Wouldn’t it be great if you could torch any excess body fat in minutes and for free? The good news is you actually can.
The secret? Carefully curated cardio.
Various studies have identified that, when it comes to the best cardio for weight loss, shorter, high-intensity cardio sessions – aka HIIT – are key. And, according to research by The University of Western Ontario, the shorter the better. Their team found that doing 4-6, 30-second sprints burned more fat than a 60-minute steady-state cardio.
This science applies to the best cardio for fat loss too. Why then, are LISS workouts – or slow and steady sweat to anyone not au fait with the acronym – one of the most Googled fitness terms? According to Amy Hopkinson, WH‘s resident PT, it has less to do with actual workout and more to do with its effects on the body: “In the past year, the conversation around the brain-body connection has opened up,” she says. “As women, we are now hyper-aware of the impact that cortisol has on the body and that too much HIIT training can aggravate stress, therefore working against weight loss. Lower intensity training is much less taxing and recovery time is often quicker – the catalyst for the return of this type of cardio.”
But don’t cancel your subscription to Kayla Itsines’ workouts just yet.
“LISS training is trending, but that doesn’t mean women should overlook HIIT trainingaltogether when considering the best cardio for fat loss,” Hopkinson says. “For most women, there’s a place in the week for a variety of training and they’ll see the best results when they do this.”
If you have limited time on your hands, do incorporate HIIT training in your week. You will torch calories both during and after your workout.
FASTED WORKOUTS: YES OR NO?
If you like to work out first thing (the jury’s out on whether it’s better to exercise in the morning vs evening, so pick whichever will make the time of your cardio to burn fat most consistent), a quick word about food. Italian research shows that although fat loss is increased during a fasted workout, you’ll burn even more afterward – and overall – if you’ve eaten before. So, fuel up first. Try this protein-packed breakfast egg muffins recipe to up the gains.
Keen to know how to make every second of your cardio to burn fat count? We called in personal trainer Matt Roberts to share his words of wisdom. Be sure to warm up and cool down for a few minutes every time you work out.
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BEST CARDIO FOR WEIGHT LOSS
1-10 Minute Workout
“Try an interval split of 20 seconds max effort; 40 seconds easy on any piece of cardio equipment for five rounds,” says Roberts. “If you don’t have access to equipment then choose from exercises such as mountain climbers,bodyweight squats or running with high knees on the spot and follow the same interval split, attempting to get as many reps in as possible in the 20 seconds. With this kind of workout, the higher intensity periods create a metabolic demand that is very effective for long-term fat loss and overall conditioning.”
10-20 Minute Workout
“Increase the length of both the work and rest intervals,” says Roberts. “A good example would be to work hard for 45 seconds then rest for 90 seconds, repeating for 8-10 rounds. Another good fat loss option is to do an exercise such as a kettlebell swing for a set number of repetitions every minute, on the minute (EMOM). This means you complete 15-20 repetitions at the start of a timed minute and then rest for the remainder of the minute. Start the next set at the top of the following minute and repeat for 15-20 rounds. In a similar way to the shorter workout above, these slightly longer sessions will create a high metabolic demand meaning you’ll be burning energy for quite some time after you have finished your training.”
30-45 Minute Workout
“On a day where you can commit more time to your cardio to burn fat, opt for some good old fashioned steady state work,” says Roberts.”‘Choose a low-level cyclical exercise such as jogging, cycling or the elliptical trainer, and work constantly at an intensity that keeps your heart rate between 120-140bpm. This type of training is great for managing stress from everyday life, aiding recovery and improving aerobic fitness (which will determine your performance in the other types of sessions described above), all of which play a huge role in managing and reducing body fat.’
Unsure how else to increase your fat loss? Fill up with lean protein, for starters, and treat yourself to the best gym trainers to put your best foot forward.