What Is The Best Cardio To Lose Weight And … What Is Not?
Losing weight can be a tricky subject. For some, it comes easy. For others, it can seem nearly impossible. But really, losing weight comes down to only a few things. Your diet, which I’ve talked quite a bit about recently, and your exercise. When it comes to burning calories while you’re exercising, cardio should not be overlooked. But what is the “best”?
Unfortunately there is not ONE type of cardio that is the “best.” Instead, you need to understand what the different types of cardio are and how they can be used to create maximum weight loss.
What leaves me scratching my head is when I see people at the gym pedaling their bikes in a half sleep while reading a novel …
that is NOT the best cardio to lose weight.
Instead of going to the gym (or even outside) with the thought of just “winging” it, you will see MUCH better results if you have a plan of attack ahead of time. Knowing exactly what you are going to do for each workout before you do it is crucial. And yes, this even applies to cardio.
The Different Types of Cardio
How do you know what type of cardio you should do? When it comes to cardio, it’s important to understand that there are different types … or at least different workouts that we usually consider a “cardio workout.”
Here are a few of the most popular and effective types of “cardio workouts.”
- Steady State
- High Intensity Interval Training
- Tabata Protocol
- Body Weight Circuits
- Muscle Confusion Workouts
- Metabolic Resistance Training
What is interesting is that these workouts all have a slightly different effect on the body and it’s ability to burn fat.
Steady State Cardio – Steady state cardio is probably the best for burning body fat directly, however it’s not that great for burning calories, releasing hormones or for EPOC. Also, it requires quite a bit time for optimal results.
High Intensity Interval Training – HIIT is great for the amount of calories burned, EPOC, and even for the HGH release. What isn’t great is that it’s not efficient at direct fat burning.
Tabata Protocol – The Tabata protocol is awesome for EPOC and HGH release but terrible for total calories burned and for direct fat burning … at least during your workout.
Body Weight Circuits – Body weight circuits are good for EPOC, total amount of calories burned, and they’re fairly good for releasing HGH. What they are not great for is directly burning calories.
Muscle Confusion Workouts – Muscle confusion workouts are basically the same as body weight circuits. Generally, most body weight workouts last about 1/2 hour whereas the two popular muscle confusion workouts last for 1 hour or so.
Crossfit – Crossfit is great for HGH release, calories burned and EPOC. Plus, it’s just plain cool. What isn’t cool though is that it doesn’t contribute too much to direct fat burning and the potential for suffering from over training symptoms is high.
Metabolic Resistance Training – Metabolic resistance training is actually quite similar to Crossfit as far as how your body reacts. It’s great for everything except for direct fat burning, which in the end, is one of the most important aspects to determining what the best cardio to lose weight is.
Zumba – Zumba is actually fun and efficient at burning body fat and calories. Where Zumba is lacking though is that it isn’t too hot for EPOC and HGH release.
So … What Is The Best Cardio To Lose Weight?
As you can see, it can be somewhat tricky labeling one type of cardio as the “best” cardio for weight loss. In fact, what might be the best method for one person is not necessarily going to be the best for someone else.
In the end, there are four main aspects that your cardio, or whatever you want to call your weight loss workout, needs to touch on.
- Calories – How many total calories are burned while doing the activity?
- Fat Burning – How much fat is used for fuel during the activity?
- EPOC – How many calories are burned after the activity has been completed?
- HGH – How much fat burning hormone is released due to this activity?
When your workout takes into consideration these four areas and hits each one CORRECTLY … you will be able to burn fat like crazy and yes, lose weight.
As you can see from the above list, there are many, many different cardio workouts that you can choose from. Honestly, all of the ones listed above are good but when it comes to the “best,” I believe that Visual Impact Cardio is the best, hands down. Visual Impact Cardio isn’t necessarily a new type of workout, but after reading it you will master the skill of fat loss and you will know the most efficient ways to setup your cardio routines.
How You Should Do Cardio To Lose Weight
Now, I obviously can’t go into detail on what Visual Impact Cardio outlines, but since I’ve seen the author, Rusty Moore, talking about some of this stuff on his Facebook page, I figure it’s fair game.
As a broad, non-specific, outline for creating an effective cardio plan, you should setup your workouts to be more intense in the beginning of the week and then taper off slightly as the week progresses. Now, there are many VERY effective tweaks, additions and subtractions that you will learn about, but this is a general and solid approach to get you started.
In Phase III of Rusty’s workout for men, he recommends doing HIIT for 15-20 minutes followed by 10-30 minutes of steady state. I’ve followed this advice in the past and got good results but I noticed my body getting tired and I also noticed the fat burning effects slowing down as the week went on. Instead of doing this throughout the entire week, you can focus on a routine like this for the beginning of the week and then ease up as the week progresses.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are other tweaks that drastically increase your weight/fat loss and the program goes into that in detail, but this is still AWESOME advice and you’re sure to see some good results from it.
I’ve done all of these workouts — except maybe the Zumba — and have gotten pretty decent results. By far though, if you ask me what is the best cardio to lose weight, I’ve got to let my results speak for themselves, and my best results have been from following Visual Impact Cardio.
February 29, 2012 @ 9:36 pm
Nice overview of the different cardio training methods out there. My 2 personal favorites are HIIT and bodyweight circuits which I’ll typically do after a heavy weight lifting session.
And BTW, I just saw your results from the Visual Impact Cardio program – AWESOME job Kevin, you look great.
March 1, 2012 @ 7:23 am
Thanks Keith, it’s been a fun 2 months!
March 1, 2012 @ 6:06 am
I guess what you’re trying to say is that mixing all the workouts would do the trick in order to target all four areas (calories, epoc, hgh, fat burning)?
I can’t wait to get my hands on Visual Impact Cardio. Any idea when will it be launched?
March 1, 2012 @ 7:26 am
Yeah, it’s definitely got to do with making sure the four main aspects of total calories burned, fat, EPOC & HGH are hit in the most efficient way … you’re going to love VIC!
March 1, 2012 @ 4:57 pm
Good write up outlining the various methods of fatburning. In my opinion the best cardio is the one that you actually like doing and look forward to doing. Cardio that you hate can eventually become the cardio that you stop doing, and that won’t help anyone much at all.
March 2, 2012 @ 9:12 am
Hi Lyndon, that is a GREAT way to look at it! You’re totally right … if you don’t do it, it doesn’t matter how good the routine is. I will say this though, when you are getting amazing results … that is quite motivating all on its own.
March 4, 2012 @ 12:36 am
Yeah man, if it’s from Rusty I’m sure I’ll love it. Agreed with Keith by the way regarding your VIC results. Simply smashing!
March 4, 2012 @ 8:39 am
Thanks Jeff! Yeah, it’s interesting that Rusty came out with all of his other workouts & blueprints before coming out with Visual Impact Cardio because one of the main things he’s known for is his unique/strategic approaches to cardio. VIC is even a step above the info in his past courses.
March 6, 2012 @ 2:42 pm
Hey Kevin, you did a great job detailing the different types of cardio options for losing weight. I personally have tried the cardio that came with Visual Impact for Women and I must say it is awesome. It does the job of challenging your body and making it not adapt to what you’re trying to do so you can get maximum results.
~ Anna D.
March 6, 2012 @ 3:37 pm
Thanks Anna! It’s nice having your input.
I know my wife has Visual Impact for Women and she loves it. I’ve caught myself reading and re-reading the Fat Touching Cardio book that comes with it a few times – good stuff!
March 7, 2012 @ 4:14 pm
What!? No Zumba?
Okay truth be told I haven’t done it either. But my daughter is a certified Zumba instructor. That counts for something, right? What I like about it is how it makes fitness fun for many who would otherwise not do it.
I like the analysis you’ve done and have come to the same conclusions that HIIT with a session of steady state cardio is an excellent combo. I don’t have the links, but I recall reading some research on spacing out the HIIT and low-intensity cardio being ideal. Like walk in the morning and HIIT afternoon; but I forget the protocol.
What do you do for spacing the HIIT and steady-state cardio?
March 13, 2012 @ 8:39 am
Zumba does sound like a good plan for those who HATE working out … like you said, brings an element of fun.
As far as spacing out the HIIT & Steady State Cardio goes, I’ve never really tested that out myself. I can see that there could be some benefits but I’m not sure that they are night/day difference.
I only get in one chance to workout during the day so I cram it all in … resistance training and then cardio, whatever my cardio workout may be for the day. This seems to do the trick.
March 15, 2012 @ 12:02 pm
Have you ever tried the prowler? Pushing that thing around for 15 minutes is more cardio than you would ever want.
George Super Boot Camps
March 18, 2012 @ 2:02 am
As far as my knowledge from the research takes me, I suspect the differences made by ‘fat burning’, EPOC, and HGH release make little to no difference.
Your body burns fat as efficiently as it can regardless of your intensity, it’s just that as your intensity increases the percentage donated by fat decreases, but the absolute amount remains maximal, althought there may some difference made by doing HIIT then steady state due to the adrenal response cascade stimulated by the intensity of HIIT (I suspect this only makes a difference for those who are already lean though).
HGH release is too transient for it to make any difference in the long term, the reason exogenous ‘growth works is due to supra-physiological levels being present all day long, not in some short burst. I would love to be proven wrong about this though.
I remember a fairly recent article by Lyle McDonald about EPOC (sadly I can’t findit whilst writing this on my iPhone). The main thrust of the research paper was that unless you’re prepared to spend hours doing really high intensity cardio EPOC is practically irrelevant, burning maybe 50 cals extra over 24 hours. That’s not going to make any difference to anyone.
I do wonder, however, if all these things taken in combination will end up creating a significant effect. It may, but will still dwindle in comparison to the effects of the next point:
That brings us to total calories, and here is where we should spend our efforts, I believe. The best cardio is the one you do, so if you love doing Zumba, who cares if it burns less calories than an hour of HIIT plus steady state? Enjoyment from exercise is the factor we should all be encouraging, as you’ll carry on doing what you enjoy. I work with all my clients to help them learnt to enjoy exercise. I find that there are two main factors involved in this process:
1: Experimenting with different styles to find the mode of exercise that suits your body and mind.
2: Doing brain training to allow your brain to be in a position to love exercise. This is the part most people miss out on, but is pretty crucial in developing a long term exercise program, and can be done by accident (those who learn to love exercise, ‘by chance’) or deliberately.
Sorry for the long rant, I’ve had a strong coffee this morning:)
Keep up the good work,
August 22, 2012 @ 7:50 pm
Thank you sooo much for outlining ALL the various cardio names and the pros / cons of each. That was great! I read the entire page word for word – don’t often do that. Thank you 🙂
October 12, 2012 @ 6:01 pm
Awesome, you are very welcome!
December 17, 2013 @ 11:16 pm
Good morning, i came through your blog, and it is very interesting , and I wanted to thank you for all the job you are doing. Well, I discovered your site because I was looking for some answers about why am I still at the same weight even if dieting and exercising, indeed, i do elliptical 45min HIIT 3 times a week ( 800 calories per session ) + resistance training 45 min sessions 3 times a week, and still counting calories on daily basis,, my daily average use to be around 1000 calories, but my weight remains same.
I have found in your article an interesting approach, which is to combine 30min HIIT and 30min steady cardio.
Just to let you know, I used to be very active athlete martial arts, for ten years, and my weight used to be around 75 kg, I had to stop because of my studies ( medicine ), after what’s reached 132kg, thanks GOD, during these last 5 years I have lost 40 kg, and am now 93kg, but I target 85 kg.
What can you advise me ?