There are some inexplainable people out there who actually enjoy cardio and do it for fun, but I’ve found that when most people step onto a treadmill it’s for one thing only: weight loss.
There are plenty of debates out there of what the best method of cardio is to burn fat and the one I believe most in is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). That means raising your heart rate up, dropping it back down, and doing it all over again. You can either set up a weight training circuit for a HIIT workout or simply do it on a piece of cardio equipment. I much prefer cardio equipment to going outside for a HIIT-style workout because it’s a lot easier to track what you’re doing in terms of resistance, speed, time, and intensity.
Since this article is titled “the best cardio for weight loss” we’re going to just talk about cardio and save weight training for weight loss for another time. (Although I did write an article just under this one on the Fitness tab about the benefits of weight training that mention weight loss).
So why is HIIT such a great way to burn fat? Well, raising your heart rate and dropping it back down repeatedly over short periods of time will actually boost your metabolism long after your workout is over. So instead of spending an hour at a moderate steady pace doing cardio, you can spend 15-30 minutes at a high intensity and end up burning more calories and fat over time. Think about all you can do with that extra 30-45 minutes! Like adding in some weight training for those of you don’t *wink* *wink*. Or snuggled up on the couch having more time for a Netflix binge. The choice is yours.
What does HIIT look like in cardio form? Sprints! What qualifies as a sprint? Hitting roughly 75% or greater of your max heart rate. An easy way to guestimate of your max heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. There are lots of variations to that equation, but all of them will get you in the same ball park. Most cardio equipment will have hand sensors so you can keep track of your heart rate while you’re working out.
Now that we know sprints are the way to go and what qualifies as a sprint, the only thing left to discuss is timing. That means how long you should be at your sprint pace to raise your heart rate and how long you should be at your low/moderate pace to drop your heart rate. And the wonderful answer is that you can totally accommodate your interval times to your cardiovascular strength levels and your general preferences. So, someone without a lot of cardiovascular strength may be more comfortable starting at an interval timing of 30 seconds “on” (or sprinting) and 1 minute 30 seconds “off” (or at the lower speed). You can eventually work up to making your “on” and “off” times even, for instance doing 1 minute each. The idea is to take just enough time to catch your breath and gear up for the next sprint without totally relaxing and going into a cool down.
Play around with your intervals and see what gives you the best workout for the level you’re at! The beautiful thing about sprints is that you can always be adjusting them as far as timing, speed, and equipment so you never have to get bored and your body never gets a chance to adjust. If you have any specific sprinting questions, please leave them in the comments either here on my site or on my Facebook page and I’m happy to answer them 🙂
Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy You,