How Much Cardio To Lose Weight? Get Better Results In Less Time With This Combo
When it comes to losing weight there are many determining factors that come into play. Since it’s most important to lose “fat weight” over other types of weight, that’s what we’ll go into here. The most effective type of exercise to lose weight has got to be cardio. But, how much cardio to lose weight? That depends. The truth is, you can cut your cardio time in about half and get better weight loss results without even touching your diet. Once you fine tune your diet — the amount of cardio it takes to lose weight reduces even more.
It seems that the view the fitness industry has towards cardio changes from time to time, but the truth is — cardio is great for losing weight. The type of cardio does play a role in just how much it’s going to take though.
Before we begin to touch on the amount of cardio to lose weight, you have to realize that this is all based off of how many calories you are taking in. In order to lose weight, you have to spend more calories than you consume.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you need to count every single calorie that you take in during the day. In fact, I hate counting calories and I don’t. I’ve found that by just following a good diet plan, in my case I prefer Eat Stop Eat, I don’t need to count calories. I can simply “turn it up a notch” and know that I’ll lose weight.
How Much Cardio To Lose Weight
In order to lose one pound of fat you need to create a 3,500 calorie deficit. The best way to do this is to add in exercise after you’ve created the majority of your deficit through diet. By eating 500 calories below your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) everyday you can lose 1 pound in a week.
- 500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories (1 pound of fat)
For some though, this could mean VERY low calories. Instead, you can simply limit the amount of calories you eat below your BMR and then go from there. Once you have the initial deficit created through diet … now is the time to add in some cardio to increase your fat lass.
Here are the two main types of cardio that we’ll talk about:
- Steady state cardio
- High Intensity Interval Training
With the right combination of these two types of cardio, you can make a huge impact on the amount of fat you lose and on how much cardio you need to do to lose that fat.
Generally, if you’re used to doing steady state cardio then you’re used to walking on the treadmill or riding the bike for about 1 hour at your target heart rate.
If you’re used to doing HIIT than you’re used to alternating high levels of intesity with levels of rest for up to 1/2 hour.
Using HIIT To Limit The Amount Of Cardio
Although you could perform HIIT for 1/2 hour (cutting the amount of cardio in half) you may find that you’ve got some stubborn fat still holding on. HIIT alone is just not enough to obliterate all of your fat.
When you perform High Intensity Interval Training your body reacts by:
- releasing fat cells into the bloodstream
- burning calories
- continuing to burn calories after the workout
This is great for burning a large majority of your fat but there are some free fatty acids that re-enter the bloodstream because you cannot use them all up in this short period of intense exercise.
That’s where traditional, steady state cardio comes into play. By combining the two types of cardio, you will see just how much cardio to lose weight can be reduced and still be more effective.
Steady State Cardio To Obliterate Fat
As for walking on a treadmill for 1+ hours, no thanks. But this traditional, steady state cardio does play an important role in losing weight. Although I wouldn’t recommend walking on a treadmill for 1 hour, you can combine HIIT & steady state cardio and ultimately limit how much cardio to lose weight and make it more effective.
After doing a High Intensity Interval style of cardio for anywhere from 10-30 minutes, add in another 10-30 minutes of steady state cardio and this will burn those released fatty acids for fuel.
Here is an illustration based off of an image I got from creator of the Visual Impact for men, women and cardio fitness programs to give a nice visual of how this works.*
How Much Cardio To Lose Weight – It’s Up To You
As I mentioned, it really depends on a few things to determine how much cardio you need to do to lose weight. With a solid diet plan, whether it’s Eat Stop Eat or another diet of your choice you can get great results by taking a few different approaches.
1.) You can do steady state cardio for 1 hour or so. I really don’t recommend this … it gets boring.
2.) You can do HIIT for anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Doing this alone, I like to do 20 – 30 minutes but even as short as 10 minutes does provide decent results.
3.) The ultimate cardio combination to lose weight. I like to do 10-15 minutes of HIIT followed by 15-20 minutes of steady state cardio. Depending on your weight loss goals, you can do as much as 30 minutes of HIIT followed by as much as 30 minutes of steady state cardio, but you should work up to this over time.
If you are more of a beginner, try doing 10 minutes of HIIT followed by 25 minutes of steady state cardio and you will see just how much cardio to lose weight can be limited with even better results.
I would recommend doing some form of cardio 3-4 times a week, again depending on your weight loss goals.
For an awesome cardio workout to really burn fat, checkout the interval training on treadmill workout. You don’t have to do this on a treadmill to get great results either — get outside and enjoy the (nice) weather.
July 20, 2011 @ 2:21 pm
Great article Kevin. This is exactly how I think most people should do there cardio because it works awesome. After doing the intervals the low intensity is almost a nice cool down by comparison.
May 13, 2012 @ 9:39 am
Awesome information Kevin. I find your approach of mixing the steady state and HIIT cardio rather interesting, I am not a fan of cardio, when I do cardio which is once in a blue moon lately, I do hiit. I like cycling but when I do cycle its not for workout purposes it is just because I enjoy riding my bicycle again its been a while since I have used my bike. I have never really had a problem losing weight thats why I have never really liked cardio…I was a naturally skinny guy.
March 24, 2013 @ 1:51 am
Really enjoyed this article esp about the part when you said that you can do HIIT as WELL as continous cardio right afterward, all in the same workout. That blew my mind. I am definitely going to try that the next time I go to the gym.
November 30, 2013 @ 6:47 am
I enjoyed this article HEAPS thank you so much!! I actually tried HIIT followed by the steady state cardio I WAS SHOCKED!!! it honestly works ii love it been doing it for a few days now and ii already see results. Thank you so much!