Always hitting the gym and spending time on the treadmill but never achieving that lean look? Choosing the right type of cardio helps!
If you’re like most gym buffs, you do “the usual workout routine" by hitting the weights. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to deciding a type of cardio for burning fat, you have to decide which lean body type you’re going for. If you train like a distance runner, you will be lean with little muscles, but if you train like a sprinter, you will have muscle growth and fat loss.
So, here’s something we can all agree on: Intensity is paramount. As intensity rises, more calories get burned. That’s why high-intensity interval workouts are a great choice for getting shredded while maintaining (or even gaining) muscle.
Here are the top 10 expert-approved types of cardio to help you lose weight faster and show results sooner.
What is cardio?
At its core, cardiovascular exercise (“cardio”) is continuous exercise that elevates your heart rate for a specific length of time.
It’s often recommended that it be done 3-5 times a week, for 30-60 minutes per session. It can help you burn calories and lose weight, and anyone can do it!
Cardio ranges in terms of impact:
High-impact: a weight-bearing movement where both feet are off the ground at some point, like running, jumping, or dancing.
Low-impact: one foot is always on the ground, such as walking, aerobics, or an elliptical workout.
Non-impact: no feet or arms are touching the ground, as you’ll experience during swimming or cycling.
Within those categories, the intensity of your workout may vary. For example, a vigorous treadmill walk is low-impact. But, it also might leave you dripping in sweat, depending on how much you push yourself. Conversely, a slow but steady run qualifies as high-impact, but may not get your heart racing.
Which types of cardio are best, and why?
All types of cardio are good for you; however, here are some ways to make a decision about the types of cardio which might best suit your fitness needs.
Cycling works the same muscles as running, but with lower impact. By keeping an intense rate, you can burn anywhere from 600 to over a thousand calories a session, especially with use of intervals. Aim to keep your maximum heart rate about halfway between the low and high ends of your target heart rate zone.
For Coach Prince, his favourite go-to cardio is running. “Running outdoors especially always allows me meditate and focus on the surroundings," he says. "And it's free!"
Whether you run outdoors or indoors on a treadmill, running is often the cardio workout of choice for many people.
It’s clear why—burning upwards of 500 calories a session, running is something most can do anywhere, anytime, for whatever length. Only thing to keep in mind? Running can be very hard on your joints, so plan for cross-training and rest days and be mindful of twinges or pain.
Walking may not be your traditional form of cardio, but some say it is the very best way to get in shape. Easily customizable as a low-impact workout with capacity for building endurance, walking tones the lower body and reduces fat.
You can also work your upper body by pumping your arms to strengthen triceps and upper back, or add inclines.
Running encourages you to put forth 2.5 times more energy than expend when walking. But, you can still walk off some weight with regular laps. Try to keep your maximum heart rate anywhere in the 50-70% range of your personal zone.
Also one of Coach Prince's favourite workouts, it is the lowest impact of all aerobic forms of exercise, swimming works all your main muscle groups while burning calories and helping with fat loss. It counts as both strength training and cardio, helps your body use oxygen more efficiently, increases blood flow to the brain and is safe for literally anyone who knows how to swim.
Kettle Bell Swings
A combination of cardio and strength, this workout isn't usually on the cardio list. But, it can since provide a boost to the heart rate.
Kettle bell swings can also burn additional calories and aerobic capacity since it places stress on your entire central nervous system.
This high-impact workout requires only one simple, inexpensive tool, but can burn up to hundreds of calories in just a few minutes. Best for a short and sweet workout, it builds strength, stamina and speed. It also helps improve coordination and lose fat.
While an elliptical workout does not burn as many calories as treadmills, it simulates running without hurting our joints. Reverse strides also place more emphasis on your quads. The moveable handles also allow you to workout your upper body at the same time.
If you’ve ever spent one minute on a stair climber machine at the gym, then you know how serious of a cardio workout this can be. Even better news: you don’t actually need to use a machine at all.
Climbing actual staircases also provides resistance to your lower body to build strength as a low-impact cardio workout. Climbing with proper form also gives your core a workout, too. Be sure to avoid leaning forward or relying on the handles if you use the machine.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) has become more of a trend in recent years but most agree this type of work can serve as cardio, particularly for burning fat. Using a mix with high and low intensity exercises can keep your heart rate elevated and burn extra calories in a short period of time too!
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