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What is the Best Cardio for Fat Loss? Free Cardio Workout Program

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     We often get questions related to weight loss and one of the most popular of those questions is what is the best type of cardio to do if you are trying to lose fat fast, and how much should you do. In the above vlog and in more detail here in this article we will outline exactly that; the best kind of training to do for weight loss and how often.

     There are three major categories of cardio; high intensity in short durations, medium intensity in medium duration, and low intensity in long duration. All of these versions will burn calories but each does it in different ways and it is a good idea to know the differences in each.

     Let’s start with low intensity cardio; this is done around 40% to 55% of your maximum heart rate. Though you can do this in any duration you want, it is only effective when done in very long bouts, and by long I mean 60 to 120 minutes. If you use this style of exercise for any less than 60 minutes your body will not burn enough calories to heavily use your fat stores. This type is best used in conjunction with other workouts for example including it (in any duration) after a strength training routine or HIIT routine to burn fat at a higher rate as you will have used all of your carbohydrate stores in your previous higher intensity workout leaving fat content as your primary fuel source.

     Medium intensity on the other hand is more of a stand-alone workout. Done at around 60% to 75% of maximum heart rate, medium intensity cardiovascular training is intended to be done from 30 minutes to 60 minutes; anything less than that and you would be better off switching to high intensity cardio to burn more calories. This category represents the vast majority of most people’s actual training and is what most people think of when talking about cardio.

     High intensity cardio, the last category is done at 80% to 100% of your maximum heart rate. This intensity level is very difficult to maintain so it is done in very short bouts. Typically this category of training is done in the form of interval training such as running intervals like 1 minute sprints followed by a 2 minute medium or low intensity interval for recovery. This style burns the most calories per minute but keep in mind it can only be done in small bouts before completely exhausting your carbohydrate stores and you have to switch to a different training style. Typically, a high intensity cardiovascular training workout lasts for a maximum of 20 to 30 minutes and is usually coupled with some other type of lower intensity workout.

     So which one of these categories is best for weight loss? Well the quick answer is high intensity cardiovascular training as it burns the most calories in the shortest period of time as well as adding an afterburn effect that causes your metabolism to stay elevated for up to 48 hours after you are done with your workout. The long answer is that high intensity training is best done in short bouts multiple times a day or done in conjunction with other styles of exercise to get the best fat burn combination. For example do a 10 to 20 minute HIIT routine followed by another 30 to 60 minutes of low intensity exercise to drastically increase the fat burning effect. Keep in mind that high intensity training of any kind should only be done a maximum of 4 times per week to give your body time to recover fully.

     That is where medium and low intensity routines come into play. A good training program (considering only cardio - do not neglect strength training from your program) would look something like this:

HIIT + Low Intensity

Low – Moderate Intensity

HIIT + Low Intensity

Low – Moderate Intensity

HIIT + Low Intensity

Saturday or Sunday:
One or both days off
One more HIIT workout
Low – Moderate Intensity

     Using the above workout schedule as a framework, you can easily add in any cardio workout that falls into the corresponding workout style. If you are not able to do HIIT routines then you can replace them with strength training to get a similar fat burn and afterburn effect.