For years, cardiovascular training has been the go-to method for reducing body fat. And, although recent research has shown that strength training is a more effective way of improving body composition and keeping body fat low in the long-run, a solid cardiovascular routine still has it’s place. But “cardio” is a pretty troublesome umbrella term that can mean any number of things. Technically, any low-resistance, repetitive activity that increases your heart rate for an extended period is “cardio.” That could be just about anything. So, what should you do? Well, if you’ve trying to burn body fat, here is a handy list of the top 5 cardio workout to burn fat the fastest.
5. Walking – People often overlook walking as a decent workout but it totally counts, and can be pretty effective if done properly. A walk, performed at moderate-intensity, can be a nice, low-impact way to burn about 300-400 calories per hour. Keep in mind, however, that that means you would have to walk for an hour. If you’re looking for a fast method, walking isn’t it.
4. Steady State Running – Although the term might seem a touch unfamiliar, chances a pretty good that you know steady state cardio all-too-well. This is the traditional form of running in which you head out, get yourself up to a sustainable speed, and maintain that pace until your legs fall off. While this is a great way to build your endurance and burn some fat (about 600 calories per hour), too much of it can have the a pretty counterproductive effect. All that running can cause hormonal changes that actually tell your brain that it’s time to store some fat and hang on to what you already have.
3. Cycling – The interesting thing about cycling is that – like running – it is highly adaptable. You can adjust your resistance, speed and terrain to manipulate not only the intensity but also the focus of your workout. A high-resistance is a great way to increase caloric burn but incorporating the large muscles of your legs – muscles that burn huge amounts of calories.
2. Jumping Rope – A torturous challenge of endurance, balance and coordination, jump rope is a great way to burn fat while developing your shoulders and calves. While there is definitely a learning curve here, a skilled jumper can torch about 1000 calories in an hour. The only problem is: an hour is an impossibly long time to jump rope. Not only is it incredibly difficult, but jumping rope is also fairly high-impact and can be murder on the joints.
1. High Intensity Interval Training – Tucked neatly within the umbrella of cardio, we find the umbrella of high intensity interval training (HIIT) – a method that can incorporate a host of activities. The trick, and beauty, of HIIT is that virtually anything can be changed to fit into this category. Essentially, a HIIT workout consists of short bursts of high-intensity exercise broken up by periods of lower intensity active rest. A very basic example would be a 10 second, all-out sprint, followed by 30 seconds of walking. Repeat. Not only is HIIT highly adaptable but it does not have the same hormonal effects that it’s steady state cousin carries, meaning that it spares your muscle mass and allows it to continue to burn fat and make you look awesome. HIIT also starts a pretty amazing thing called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) which essentially means that your body continues to burn extra calories for about 24 hours after the workout has actually ended. Most interestingly, EPOC is dependent on workout intensity, not duration. In realworld terms this means that a brief, intense workout can stimulate fat burn even better than a long, boring, low-intensity one. And that is valuable knowledge.
But this is really just an overview. To learn more, check out some of our other posts including The Top 10 Exercises for Burning the Most Calories.