Cardiovascular exercise is a vital part of any weight loss routine. Along with shedding excess fat, it also improves heart and lung health, relieves stress, and helps you get a better night’s rest. All great things! There are dozens of different forms of cardio to choose from, like walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, and more. But, which cardio workout is the best for melting away the fat? Spoiler alert: It’s often abbreviated with four letters!
If you haven’t guessed it yet, read on to learn which cardio workout is the best for melting away the fat and shredded inches off of your waistline. Before we dive into the best kind of workout, let’s take a deeper look at cardiovascular workouts in general and how they differ from strength training.
What is Cardio?
Let’s start by examining what we mean when we say cardio. “Cardio” is another word for heart, and “vascular” relates to the blood vessels. So, cardiovascular exercise means you’re working the heart, arteries, and veins. Unlike strength training (which builds muscle), cardio is an aerobic exercise which means that it utilizes oxygen for energy. In addition to improving our lung capacity, cardio also helps burn fat by using stored carbs and fats as fuel.
You can increase the intensity (and calorie burn) of any form of cardio, by:
- Moving faster
- Walking, jogging, or running at an incline
- Jumping higher
- Increasing duration of exercise
Calories In, Calories Out
Diet plays a huge role in shedding excess fat. Your body requires a specific amount of calories to maintain weight. If you consume more or less calories than that amount, you’ll lose weight or or gain weight. If your goal is to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit each day.
However, you can’t just cut out all the calories. It’s imperative that you eat a certain amount of food to keep your metabolism from crashing. A safe deficit for weight loss through diet is 200-300 calories below what you need to maintain weight. For instance, if you maintain weight by eating 1,800 calories a day, you would want to consume no more than 1,600 to lose weight.
Since it takes 3,500 calories to make up one pound of body fat, that 200-300 calorie deficit would take approximately 12-18 days to burn one pound. That seems like a long time, right? This is why cardiovascular exercise is so important. You can burn another couple hundred calories just by performing cardio, which will speed up your weight loss progress significantly. By adding exercise, you will increase your caloric deficit and could lose a pound of body weight every week!
The Most Effective Form of Cardio for Burning Fat: HIIT
So, back to the main question: Which cardio workout is the best for melting away the fat? While all forms of cardiovascular exercise can be beneficial to your health, the most effective form for burning excess fat is HIIT. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This form of training utilizes short bursts of maximum level exertion–where you’re really giving it your all–combined with shorter rest periods (that you’ll wish were a little bit longer).
The goal of HIIT is to get your heart pumping and lungs burning. During the periods of all-out exertion, you will consume more oxygen. And, since there’s a direct correlation between oxygen consumed and calories burned, that means you’ll burn more calories, too. You might be wondering, “If I burn more calories during the high-intensity bursts, why should I take breaks and not just keep going?” Well, rest periods are necessary to allow your muscles to recuperate for the next burst of exercise.
Furthermore, HIIT has the unique ability to continue burning calories for several hours post-exercise. Your body might be recovering and returning to a resting state, but it’s burning up additional calories without you even knowing it.
Related: 5 Reasons to Start HIIT
Try HIIT, Today!
We have so many fun and effective HIIT routines for you to try. Here are some of our most popular workouts:
- 30-Day HIIT Challenge
- HIIT Your Arms Workout
- Melt Fat in Minutes with this HIIT Routine
- HIIT Total Body Toning Workout
- 15-Minute Indoor Bodyweight HIIT
Why You’ll Love HIIT
Aside from being extremely good for your overall health and its ability to burn fat quickly, HIIT can be completed in just a few minutes. Most of us have very busy schedules, so the faster we can get our workout in, the better. HIIT will allow you to do this, ensuring that you never miss a workout and stay on the path to weight loss success! With HIIT, you won’t just look good, you’ll feel good too.
Combine Healthy Eating and HIIT with Strength Training
Strength training is another beneficial component to weight loss. Weight lifting 3+ times per week has been proven to boost metabolism and tone your muscles. As HIIT melts excess fat, your sexy, toned muscles will be revealed!
Try these awesome Strength building, muscle firming workout routines:
- 7 Total Body Workouts to Burn Fat and Improve Strength
- 7-Day Strength and Stamina Workout Challenge
- Fast & Easy Full-Body Dumbbell Workout
Have you ever performed HIIT? If you haven’t, you should definitely try out one of our workouts! You will not be disappointed with the results. Not only will you find yourself in the best shape of your life, but you’ll also notice that you have more time and more energy than ever before!