For many of us, cardio workouts suck huge hairy ones. We know it’s good for us, we know we should do it, and we get told to do it by loads of professionals. Still, every time we hit the gym those barbells sing to us like a siren luring us to our happy place a.k.a the free weight section. Let’s face it; given a choice between heavy ass squats or cardio, there isn’t one. Squats all day long, baby!
It’s a scientific brofact* (see definition below) time slows down when doing cardio. However, health professionals and many in the fitness industry including bodybuilders swear it is the holy grail of fat loss.
The one thing endurance athletes have in common, apart from their love of torturing themselves for the love of their sport, is their skeletal physiques. They may well be the giants in their sport but they are the toothpicks of the real world.
With that in mind, perhaps cardio has more in common with foreplay than we’d like. While it is entirely possible to get to your goal without it, add in the right amount and you’ll definitely get there faster.
Still, have no fear, your fairy bromother will never tell you to do hours of steady state cardio. There is only one type of cardio that should ever take over 20 minutes! So here are five other types of fat-loss cardio workouts.
1. High-Intensity Plyo Circuit
Stripped down, plyometrics is a form of strength training, which typically involves jumping. It’s about rapid stretching then contracting of muscles using explosive movements such as hopping, skipping, and jumping. Putting a series of plyo exercises into a circuit is a fun, albeit in a lung busting, sweat dribbling way, to torch body fat.
Unlike steady state cardio, these circuits can be performed in less than 20 minutes, so no need to watch your life drain away, just the fat. However, due to the explosive nature of plyo, you need to be aware of form especially as you get tired to avoid injury.
See Jessie Hilgenberg’s plyo workout here
Try the following circuit for a fat-busting, sweat-inducing workout. Perform each exercise for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds between exercises for two to four sets.
Warm up with a mixture of jogging on the spot and dynamic stretches.
- Jump rope or fake jump rope
- Squat jumps
- Speed skaters or curtsey squat
- Jump lunges
- Jog in place for 60 seconds
Rest for 60 seconds, then complete other sets.
2. Hill Sprints
Not only are they fun, they are brutal. Actually, come to think of it, maybe fun isn’t the right word but they will torch that body fat unlike any other type of cardio. Find a fairly short relatively steep hill, warm up, and then get up that hill as fast as you can.
Take two to three minutes to recover, and then do it all over again. The aim here is to leave it all on the road. Don’t hold back going uphill, and walk back down so you can recover effectively.
Start with a warm-up of at least 15 minutes of dynamic stretches, burpees, jumping jacks, and or jogging and cool down by walking for at least 10 minutes then stretch. If you’re new to hill sprints, start with no more than two or three sprints to allow the time needed to strengthen the muscles and connective tissues.
Although beginners can get muscle or tendon strain by doing too much before the body can adapt, hill sprints can actively protect against injuries. Find a beginner hill sprint program here.
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3. Stationary Bike Workout
If you’ve got joint issues, are recovering from injuries or are a muscle mountain, sprinting and jumping are not activities you may wish to undertake. This does not give you permission to Netflix and chill. If fat loss is your goal then try this stationary bike routine to get your sweat on while protecting your joints.
Follow a simple routine of 20 seconds hard and 10 seconds off and try to last for a full four minutes. Only four minutes? If you’re going balls to the wall, then four minutes will seem like an eternity. Find different types of stationary bike workouts here.
4. Deadmill Sprints
There is only one useful way to use a treadmill and this is it. No, it’s not lifting it for reps although that’s the only other good one. Warm up on the treadmill then turn it off or unplug it. Now channel your inner Deadpool and give maximum effort at getting that belt to move using only your feet and your hands on the handles.
Beginners should start with a 15-second sprint and 45 seconds of active recovery. Walking is fine. Repeat five to eight times depending on your fitness levels.
As your fitness improves, decrease the rest time by five seconds and increase the sprint time. There’s dead in the name, these sprints will have you burning fat and cursing all of your life choices. When you can do 30 seconds on and off for at least five sets, look at setting an incline on the treadmill. You may need to unplug the machine to keep the incline so check with staff at your gym first. Happy sweating!
5. Suicide Sprints
So named because if done correctly, it will feel like you are actively dying. However, these are the bees’ knees of fat-loss cardio. All you need is enough space to run approximately 40 feet for beginners. Set up markers at your start point, 15 feet, 25 feet, and 40 feet. After a thorough warm-up including dynamic stretches and or jogging of at least ten minutes head to the start line.
Sprint to the first marker then jog or walk back to the start. Sprint to the second and third, jogging or walking back in between. Repeat four or five times or for at least ten minutes. As your fitness improves, repeat up to ten times, or for 20 minutes.
Extend the markers up to 100 feet and sprint back for extra burn. If you’re sprinting back to the finish line, be sure to add in one or two minutes for recovery between sets.