One of the top questions we as fitness professionals get is what type of cardio is best? What’s the best way to lose fat? I’m going to give you the top answer, and then the details of cardio that would fall under it. The number one answer to losing fat is to burn calories! I will put a disclaimer in that being that you are eating in a calorie deficit first, then burn calories!
Now to burn calories you have a ton of different options, all of which are great. The big thing with these is that they all have their place in your fitness journey and program. Some of the choices have to do with what is time-efficient, some with what maximizes fat burning, and some with rest and recovery for your weekly program. I’m going to review the top 3 forms of cardio typically used in the transformation based program.
The 3 types of cardio most utilized due to their effectiveness within the parameters of a fitness center are steady-state cardio, HIIT, and metabolic training.
Steady-state cardio is great for digging directly into those fat stores. An example of this would be to jump on the elliptical and go to work at a constant pace for a given time. HIIT is High-Intensity Interval Training. This has become a very popular method due to the typically enjoyable high intensity and the short time it takes to complete. An example of HIIT would be to get on the treadmill and due to a 60-second all-out sprint, followed by a 2-minute slow jog and then repeat several times. The third type of cardio we are looking at is metabolic conditioning. This is a great way to burn calories, get that cardio effect, and also get some dynamic resistance exercise. An example of this is to set up workout stations that focus on a full-body workout.
For your steady-state cardio you’re going to want to work between 60%-80% of your maximum heart rate. The time frame should be 20-60 minutes and can be done on the stair mill, treadmill, bike, elliptical, pool or any other cardio machine in our facility. The time frame is wide because your fitness level comes into play. If you are just starting out and can only do 20 minutes before your gassed out then that’s fine! Build up. But I like to say, “the more the merrier.” Steady-state is a lower impact typically, lower intensity and not as hard on the body so you can spend more time in it. The more time you do, the more calories you burn and the quicker you will get to your goal! Keep in mind you do not have to stay on one piece of equipment. I like to do 2-3 based on different machines for long sessions to keep it interesting.
HIIT Training is an amazing way to push yourself and burn calories quickly.
It’s time-efficient and also elevates your daily metabolic rate 10%-20% for the following 2-3 days after your session. In 10-20 minutes you can complete a great workout. HIIT combines intervals of high intensity followed by recovery periods of very low intensity. The time frame likewise is based on your fitness level, as well as a daily variation to avoid plateaus. You could do a 10-60 second all-out sprint, followed by 60-120 seconds of rest. This can be performed on the same types of cardio machines.
Metabolic training is a great way to incorporate dynamic resistance training and cardio. I touch of HIIT can be incorporated as well, and also short bouts of steady-state exercise. There are a ton of exercises that can be implemented into your workout. Here are some of my favorites: medicine ball slams, battle ropes, jump rope, jump squats, TRX, Kettlebell swings, rowing, planks variations, and burpees. You can pick rep counts for each or do them such as 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds rest. Depending on how many exercises you incorporate you can do 2-4 rounds of 5-10 exercises.
From a weekly outlook, I like to have my clients alternate days for cardio. So as an example (and by no means the only way) I would have them do HIIT on Monday & Thursday, steady-state on Tuesday & Friday, rest Wednesday and a metabolic workout Saturday. This is in conjunction with their resistance training regimen. You’re going to want to get the best of everything so by strategically planning all of these into your week you can maximize your progress. Also, you need to rest from each. If you only did one option every day you would burn out, especially HIIT and metabolic training. Steady not so much, but the likelihood you would become bored after a while is fairly high.
Some other great forms of cardio are hiking, boxing, kickboxing, and sports.
Keep it interesting. If you enjoy it and it burns calories then do it! Also, make sure to plan your workouts for success. If you are doing resistance training and steady-state cardio then do the weights first, and cardio second. You will burn more fat this way. If you are doing HIIT and resistance training then pick the one that serves your goal best as they can both be taxing on your body. I would recommend doing metabolic training alone. If you have any questions about any of the information to maximize your transformation journey contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike from Moreno Fitness And Nutrition Coaching