What is the best type of cardio to do for losing weight? It is one of the most popular questions we often get, and in fact, arguably the most asked question in the fitness industry in general.
Before we can answer that question, first, we have to understand that not all cardio exercises are built the same, and differences lie in the intensity. Let us first discuss the different types of cardio exercise intensity and their respective benefits.
#1. Low-Intensity Cardio
We can define cardio exercises done at 40% to 55% of your maximum heart rate (MHR) to be of lower intensity.
Unless it’s done in more than 60 minutes, with 120 minutes being ideal, a low-intensity cardio exercise will not burn enough calories to shed your fat storage.
#2. Medium-Intensity Cardio
Medium intensity, on the other hand, can be treated as a more stand-alone workout. We can define medium-intensity cardio exercises as those with around 60% to 75% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).
The medium intensity cardio will be effective for fat burning when done from 30 to 60 minutes. If you have less available time, you might want to consider going for a high-intensity exercise
#3. High-Intensity Exercise
High-intensity cardio exercises maintain your heart rate at 80% to 100% of its maximum capacity, providing a very difficult to maintain intensity which will burn the most calories per minute.
The downside? Most, if not all of us can only maintain a short time of high-intensity cardio. 20 to 30 minutes of high-intensity is enough for a sufficient fat burning regime.
The Best Cardio Exercises For Fat Burning Purpose
Recommendation for beginners:
- Frequency: three times a week
- Intensity: Low-Medium (50-70 percent MHR)
- Duration: 25-45 minutes
- Expected Calorie Burn: 300-400 per hour
Walking was once thought to be the holy grail of aerobic exercises for fat burning. After all, it’s very easy to do, it’s time and energy-efficient, and it’s affordable.
Must Read: 5 Mistakes to Avoid During Walking Exercises
However, recent studies have shown that walking is less effective compared to other methods, but it does have its benefits, such as:
– Might be the only option for the obese before they lose a bit of weight
– Perfect exercise for those with injuries and joint problems
– To be used in conjunction with higher-intensity exercises both for recovery purposes and warming up.
Walking exercises will only increase your metabolism for a couple hours after the exercise, so it’s best to use it in combination with higher intensity exercises.
Recommendation for beginners:
- Intensity: Medium-High (60-85% MHR)
- Duration: 20-30 Minutes
- Expected Calorie Burn: 600-800 per hour
First of all, we should remember that running as a cardio exercise is not sprinting, which is anaerobic in nature. Running is considered one of the most efficient cardiovascular exercises around, with a relatively high and long-lasting impact to burn body fat and improve your cardiovascular health in the process.
Here are a few things you might want to consider for a running exercise:
– Running train your body aerobically at a relatively high intensity, while training your leg muscles in the process
– Running can help preventing osteoporosis
– Running can improve your fitness and athletic performance, increasing your metabolic rate for up to 24 hours
Running, or jogging is a form of high-intensity aerobic training that will not cross the anaerobic threshold. When your body cross the anaerobic threshold, it will burn carbohydrates, instead of fat as its fuel source, which will ruin the fat-burning purpose of the exercise.
A proper running exercise will work your hip, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles to also build your muscle shape and definition.
The treadmill machine is a great and efficient way to do your running exercises for your fat burning purpose.
Recommendation for beginners.
- Intensity: Medium-High (60-85% MHR)
- Duration: 30-45 Minutes
- Expected Calorie Burn: 600 per hour
In its core principle, cycling is very similar to running and will use similar muscle group. However, cycling has a lower overall impact in straining your muscles, making it more accessible to virtually anyone.
Using a recumbent exercise bike is a great option especially for beginners, as it will reduce the distractions you might find on the road by using an actual bicycle, or higher stress to the back muscles found in an upright exercise bike.
Here are some other benefits of the cycling exercise:
– Low impact, high intensity exercise to shred body fat efficiently
– Great workout for the quadriceps muscles
– Can dramatically improve your fitness and athletic performance if done regularly
Another unique benefit of the cycling exercise is its flexibility, where you can change the resistance from lower to higher in a rapid fashion, making it a great exercise for any intensity level.
Recommendation for Beginners:
- Intensity: Various
- Duration: 20-45 minutes
The Rowing machine is an excellent way to do a total body aerobic workout and can be done with various intensity level with relative ease.
However, rowing is most popular to be done in high intensity, working all the main muscles of your body, perfect for increasing muscle definition while shredding body fat.
Rowing burns more calories per hour than other common aerobic exercises, around 840 calories per hour at high intensity (80% MHR)
Here are some other considerations and benefits of the rowing exercise.
– Total body workout
– Relatively low impact
– Burn a higher number of calories than any of the other common aerobic methods
The downside? Rowing machines aren’t as available as treadmills or stationary bikes and you will need to have a sufficient overall muscle strength to maintain high-intensity rowing exercise for a sufficient period.
What is the key for the effective cardio regime for fat burning purpose? Your body is smarter than you know and will adapt its metabolism according to your routine. The best way to do effective fat-burning cardio is to mix-and-match your intensities of your exercises, either in a span of one workout, like the High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or in a span of the week.
Try doing high-intensity exercises every Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, low-intensity on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and medium-intensity on Thursdays, and you will see the fat-burning results in no time.
Author Bio: Nancy Moore is the founder and creator of Fitnessgrams. She created Fitnessgrams to be a haven for people looking to get fit, boost their health, lose weight, or improve their well-being. Here you will find experiences, workouts, information from the experts, healthy living tips, and tools to find well-being and balance.