When the time comes to get serious about your figure, it’s the best cardio workout for fat loss that makes all the difference.
We all know that the secret to a leaner, athletic silhouette figure is diet and exercise. The food you eat and the type of exercise you choose to take part in both have a dramatic effect on how you look… and feel.
In this guide we’ll break down the very best cardio workouts for fat loss, looking at exactly why they’re so effective. That way you’ve got more than enough weaponry in your fat fighting arsenal to make a real difference.
So strap in, take your pre workout and let’s get lean together girl…
Get Fit to Fight Fat
The key to a good fat loss plan is to monitor calorie intake and blast through an energy-burning workout in the gym.
It’s your diet that provides the nutrients needed to optimize health. It also forms the basis of an energy deficit too – the golden chalice of fat loss. But it’s exercise that builds toned muscle, creates shape where you want it and increase your fitness levels.
Using this two-pronged approach gives you every chance possible of ditching the excess fat, tightening those abs and building a body as next-level as your confidence.
Don’t forget to control those calories
Just before we start to look at the best cardio workouts for fat loss, let’s talk calories.
You could have the toughest fat melting program in the world right in front of you – but if you’re not focusing on your diet as well, you’ll ruin your results.
Your body stores excess calories from food as triglycerides in your fat cells. It sits there, content, ready to be used when ready.
The spark is a calorie deficit. This is where you take in fewer calories from food each day than you burn off through day-to-day activities and exercise.
It’s impossible to break into those fat cells and use that stored fat without a trigger from a deficit. If you’re unsure how to work out your energy needs, check out this easy-to-use calorie calculator.
So, if you’re working hard in the gym and not seeing the results you deserve, check your calorie intake. This might be what’s holding you back.
Key Point: A good weight loss or fat fighting plan combines a healthy, calorie-controlled diet with a challenging workout plan.
#1. High-Intensity Cardio
Let’s kick off this fat burning mission with the most time-efficient workout ever created… high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
As a fitness-focused calorie burner, HIIT involves short periods of high-intensity exercise followed by short periods of recovery. It’s horribly tough, but extremely effective.
There are hundreds of different HIIT workout programs to follow. Even subtle changes to the length of an interval or how active your recovery periods are can completely transform the way it feels. So you’ll never get bored.
Why is HIIT one of the best cardio workout for fat loss approaches?
According to scientific research, high-intensity cardio improves body composition by:
- Increased calorie burn and energy expenditure
- Enhancing fat oxidation (break down of fat for fuel)
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Decreases appetite compared to traditional cardio
- Help your body adapt and get used to lower body fat levels
Key Point: HIIT workouts use periods of high-intensity cardio work followed by short, intermittent recovery bouts to boost fitness, fat burning and resilience.
#2. Steady State Aerobic Exercise
Back in the day, it was moderate-intensity cardio, cardio, cardio that was the weapon of choice for women to lose fat. Strength training wasn’t even an option.
Gyms were jam-packed full of girls running, rowing and cycling to get leaner led to the term ‘gym bunnies’. The problem wasn’t cardio itself was ineffective… it was more that cardio was all these women were doing.
Now here’s the thing. Steady-state cardio – often called low-intensity steady state or LISS – is great for fat loss, especially when combines with other styles of training such as weightlifting and circuits. And while some trainers suggest that cardio isn’t time-efficient, it still provides a relatively stress free way of burning calories.
The key thing about LISS is that it shouldn’t be too taxing. If you’d rather work hard and blast your body with high-intensity work, you’d be better off just cracking on with some HIIT work instead.
LISS should be performed at an intensity of 60-75% of your maximum heart rate.
If you’ve got a heart rate monitor this is easy to work out. But if you haven’t, just go for an intensity that’s hard enough to make you sweat and go a little pink in the face, but something you could maintain for a good 30 minutes or more minutes (60-90 is perfect if you have time).
Why is steady-state one of the best cardio workout for fat loss approaches?
Working out doesn’t always have to be brutal; burning calories is all about being clever. LISS is low impact. That means it’s less stressful on your body than other approaches and if anything, quite fun (okay, maybe not fun, but certainly less intense!).
- Burns more calories and enhances energy expenditure
- Has a high adherence rate. It’s easy to perform and stick to
- Less likely to burn out or overtrain – can be used as active recovery
- Doesn’t mess with your recovery as much as other more intense cardio methods
- Blasts your body with feel good hormones
- Suits beginners and is less intimidating than some types of cardio
- When used alongside HIIT (on separate days), provides a powerful fat blasting program
Key Point: Moderate-intensity cardio might not be the most time-efficient fat loss workout, but it’s low stress and helps with recovery as well as weight loss.
#3. High-Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT)
HIRT training combines fast-paced cardio with weight training to provide the metabolic blast of an atom bomb. When it comes to methods that get you lean but also build shape and tone, this is a clear winner.
As a system designed to give you the best results in the shortest time possible, HIRT isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s one of the best cardio workouts for fat loss approaches out there… and tests everything from your fitness to your resilience.
In fact, as cardio goes this is hands down the toughest workout you’ll ever try. It goes without saying you’ll need a good base of fitness before you try it.
How do you structure a high-intensity resistance workout?
HIRT is a flexible workout plan that allows you to pick and choose which exercises you use. However, there are a few general rules that you should follow when organizing your workout.
- Pick an overall workout duration – 2-3 blocks of 10 minute works well.
- Choose your lifts – multi-muscle exercises such as squats, presses and pulls are brilliant HIRT exercises. Choose between 4-8 lifts in total.
- Decide on your rep range – most choose to go between 6-15 reps
The idea is to go from one exercise to the next in a circuit fashion until the 10 minute timer goes off. Then and only then can you rest. Work at your own pace and use strategy to get through the full mini-workout.
Once you’ve had a 3-5-minute rest, start your second circuit and follow a similar approach.
Sample workout (10 minutes):
- Goblet squats
- Push ups
- Bent over row
- Kettlebell swing
Why is HIRT one of the best cardio workout for fat loss approaches?
Because you’re hitting your cardio-respiratory and muscular systems in one workout, the benefits are broad and hard-hitting.
- Seriously ramps up energy expenditure and fat oxidation
- Improves maximal fitness levels and sports performance
- Builds toned muscle which in turn increases your metabolism
- Versatile and allows you to target specific muscles of your choice.
Key Point: If you’ve got a good foundation of fitness, HIRT is the most powerful combination of cardio and strength training you could ever imagine.