People are very confused about cardio.
Should they pound away endlessly on a treadmill at low intensity?
Or are they better off doing shorter, more intense sessions?
Should cardio come before or after your weights session?
And just what is the best form of cardio for weight loss?
This is the place to find answers to those and many more of your cardio related queries.
Before We Get Started
- 1 Before We Get Started
- 2 How Does Cardio Specifically Help With Weight Loss?
- 3 Jogging
- 4 Swimming
- 5 Dance Fitness Classes
- 6 High-Intensity Cardio Workouts
- 7 Conclusion
Before getting into the best cardio workouts for weight loss, there are a few things you have to be aware of.
First, we shouldn’t forget that our diets are also a major contributor to our weight as well as exercise. In fact, many studies have shown that controlling your diet may actually be more effective in short-term weight loss than consistently exercising! If you combine cardio exercises with weight loss tablets, you can expect to see results sooner.
It doesn’t matter how much cardio you do if you haven’t got your cardio on point!
At the end of the day, you could be a very active person, but if you consume more than you burn off, you will be gaining weight. More importantly, if you’re consuming the wrong balance of foods, you’re most likely not going to be gaining weight in muscle mass, but in your fat tissues. Therefore, make sure you don’t just undo your progress in cardio workouts, by overeating later, and make sure you watch what you eat.
Another thing is, even though getting visible weight loss results is often portrayed as a matter of discipline and will power, it’s important to know that it’s also majorly determined by genetics and/or any underlying medical conditions you may have.
Be sure to visit your physician and check that your weight isn’t due to a larger medical problem you may unknowingly have. You should also be mindful that genetics also largely determine things like your metabolism, fat distribution, etc. which all play a part in how easy it is for you to lose weight.
That being said, because there are so many factors that make each individual very different, it’s important to start your weight loss journey as a process of figuring out how your unique body works, and figuring out what works best for you.
How Does Cardio Specifically Help With Weight Loss?
What Is Cardio?
Cardio is often used interchangeably with the term “aerobic exercise.” Aerobic exercise literally translates as “with oxygen,” meaning the types of movements that have your muscles using oxygen as a fuel source. This is actually the majority of the exercise that we do, including, standing, walking, jogging, swimming etc. And contrary to common belief, the major fuel source we use for that is our fat reserves, not carbs, so it’s a major go-to for someone trying to lose fat more than they’re trying to gain muscle.
Cardio, however, refers more specifically to exercises that increase your heart rate, so jogging, swimming all the way up to high intensity interval training (HIIT), such as sprinting. High intensity cardio is actually also partly anaerobic (without oxygen), as it leaves you breathless in just under a few minutes and your muscles rely on fuel sources that aren’t oxygen. Such exercises rely partly on fat, but also on your muscle’s glycogen reserves.
So Which Is The Best Way To Do Cardio?
Both low-intensity and high-intensity cardio sessions are useful for burning fat. However, you need a strategy so you could put in more exercise throughout your week without burning yourself out.
High-intensity workouts where you just kill yourself are often the most marketed form of exercise, but it would actually give you a lot more athletic longevity if you put in a lot of low-intensity cardio throughout your week, rather than few high-intensity cardio that would burn you out and demotivate you.
This is what’s referred to as “farmer strength,” where a farmer is just working, doing his thing and find that he has lost weight and gotten stronger by the end of the month, in a natural and seamless way.
So below, we’ve outlined some cardio exercises that could help you with your weight loss goal.
Jogging is a pretty common way to get your cardio, and one of the most unique aspects about it is that it’s a very versatile exercise! You can choose your scenery based on what you like.
You could choose to be on a treadmill at the gym, in the middle of the crowded downtown streets or you could go to jogging at your favorite park, by your favorite lake or river, plug in your earphones and forget about the world.
Many people say that the best way they enjoy jogging is by going as slow as they want and just trying to keep at it for a long time. It can eventually just feel like walking. The effort is seamless, it’s more of a joy rather than a task, and you see results in your energy and your physique if you’re consistent.
Pros & Cons
Swimming is another great go-to for cardio. Imagine yourself on a hot, sunny day and you’re sweaty after finishing a jog- jumping in the pool seems like a natural next-step.
Swimming is also one of those exercises, where even when you’re floating in the water, your muscles are actually still working just to keep you buoyant, so after an hour’s swim, you’re going to have burned off a lot more calories than you probably think.
It’s also one of those exercises that leave you feeling particularly refreshed in comparison to other sports. As humans, we’re naturally not as accustomed to being submerged in water, which is what gives us this nice jolt when we jump in a swimming pool or a lake.
If swimming laps is too boring for you, you could join a water-aerobics class or even try a game of waterpolo with your friends.
Pros & Cons
Dance Fitness Classes
You could also find yourself a dance class to join to get you some cardio. The fitness community has plenty of options including, hip-hop classes, belly dancing, pole dancing, salsa dancing, Zumba, and more.
There are even dancing styles that sit right between dancing and martial arts, such as capoeira. Capoeira is a style of dancing that entails a lot of rotational movements, and powerful spin-kicks that can both look artful and do a lot of damage.
Fact: Capoeira was actually invented by Brazilian slaves in the 16th century. It was designed to be a martial art disguised as a dance to be used as self-defense to escape enslavement.
You can even find some creative dance classes, such as aerobic classes where you do cardio all on a trampoline!
Here’s a list of all the different dance fitness classes that exist:
- Hip-hop dancing
- Belly dancing
- Salsa dancing
- Pole dancing
- Soca dancing
- Tango dancing
- Trampoline fitness
- Aerial gymnastics
Pros & Cons
High-Intensity Cardio Workouts
After you’ve grown accustomed to low-intensity cardio workouts like jogging and swimming, sometimes we crave a little bit of a challenge to see what our body can really do.
High-intensity cardio not only burns a lot more fat in the same time-frame, but it can also improve our performance in low-intensity training. It boosts your morale, and your body physically begins to understand that it’s capable of a lot more than it previously “thought.”
Here are some examples of HIIT workouts you could occasionally do:
After jogging for a long time, sometimes we really want to see how fast we can go. You can occasionally try to include some sprints in your workouts.
For example, you could jog for 2 laps, sprint for half a lap, then go back to jogging for another 2 laps, and repeat. Research shows that not only does this increase fat loss, but it also expands your aerobic capacity. In other words, not only would you lose more fat, your daily jogs are likely going to be faster as well, because your ability to use oxygen (VO2 max) will improve.
This specific study was done on women only, but that isn’t to say that this may not still be the case for men too.
It’s also important to remember that there is also still more variation within genders than between them, and they often overlap. Therefore, even if this does help women more than men on average, you won’t know where you fall on that spectrum unless you try it yourself.
You could also apply this to swimming sprints as well.
The Beep Test
Beep tests are an intense cardio workout that helps you measure what your absolute maximum sprinting capacity is.
In this test you’re required to run between two cones set at 20 meters apart. There’s an audio you play in the background with occasional “beeps.” You’re supposed to run from one side to the other between beeps. The trick here is that the beeps keep getting faster.
You find out your sprinting capacity by counting the number of laps back and forth you’ve done until you’ve stopped keeping up with the beeps.
Putting maximum intensity in the form of a game is usually a good way of tricking your body into actually putting its maximum effort into a sprint.
Pros & Cons
At the end of the day, the best type of cardio is the one that you are going to stick to. If you want to shed the pounds, you have to be consistent. So, try out the exercises we’ve presented in this article and discover which one(s) you develop a real liking for. Then combine that activity 3-4 times per week with a sensible reduced calorie eating plan and you will, eventually, get to your goal weight.