More than 17% of people in America are on some kind of diet. That might not sound like a lot, but it works out as around 56 million people. So if you are trying to lose weight, you are not alone! However, if your weight loss journey is going to be successful and healthy, you need to approach this in the right way. This means combining calorie control and regular exercise. So what is the best exercise for weight loss? A lot of people turn to cardio workouts to lose weight, but how do these actually work and what are some of the best ones to try?
If you are interested in using cardio to lose weight, you’re in the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know.
What Is Cardio Exercise?
Cardio or cardiovascular exercise involves working out to increase your heart and respiration rate. This is also known as aerobic exercise. Cardiovascular activity increases the amount of oxygen and blood flowing throughout your body.
The best way to do this is by using exercises that target your large muscle groups rhythmically in repetitive motions. As your muscles work, they will use up more oxygen in your blood. The more you repeat each motion, the harder your muscles will have to work.
This forces your heart to work harder and supply them with more oxygen and this is what burns your calories.
Of course, you want your heart rate to remain safe throughout your workout. A healthy resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm) — the fitter you are, the lower your heart rate will be.
A safe heart rate during cardio depends on how old you are, and you can figure this out by subtracting your age from 220. So someone who is 40, shouldn’t allow their heart rate to go over 180. As a general rule, you should never let your heart rate exceed 200 bpm.
If you are new to cardio exercise, it is important to start slow and build up your endurance. Your cardio ability will improve over time if you exercise regularly.
There are plenty of amazing benefits of cardiovascular activity. Doing this on a regular basis will:
- Improve your heart health
- Boost your mood
- Improve your immunity
- Help your circulation
This type of exercise is also commonly associated with weight loss. So does this really work and what is the best type of cardio exercise for you? Let’s take a closer look.
How Does Cardio Help You Lose Weight?
Cardio is great for fat loss because raising your heart rate means that your body uses up more energy and burns calories faster.
In particular, cardio exercises use calories from the fat in your body, rather than other sources. This means that regular cardio can lead to significant fat loss.
Because of this, it is an important part of any weight loss exercise regime. Without cardio, you can still build strength and muscle tone. However, it will be difficult to achieve a lean physique.
Examples of Great Cardio Workouts to Lose Weight
So which exercises provide a cardiovascular workout?
Well, a lot of everyday activities can boost your heart rate, especially if they target your large muscle groups. Going for a brisk walk, for example, will get your heart going and keep you healthy.
However, if you are interested in burning as many calories as possible then certain cardio exercises will make a big difference. When it comes to cardio, a lot of people think of running, but there are plenty of amazing exercises to choose from.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best cardio exercises for weight loss.
Running up and down stairs burns an amazing number of calories. In fact, this can burn around 1000 calories if you do it for an hour!
You also don’t need to sprint up the stairs to get your heart rate going. Walking up and down stairs for 10 minutes will still burn around 100 calories (or 600 calories an hour.)
Some people worry that running stairs can be a little boring and repetitive. But you can also use the stair climber at your local gym! Just pop on your favorite show or podcast and the time will fly by!
A lot of people associate kettlebells with strength training. While they are important for this, they also provide a great cardio workout.
A great kettlebell workout can burn around 20 calories per minute. That’s the same as a 6-minute mile, so they really offer an efficient weight-loss solution!
If you are new to using kettlebells, it’s a good idea to try out a 10-minute workout to get used to them. Kettlebells can weigh between 5 pounds and 100 pounds! To begin with, most women use 15-pound kettlebells, while men can start around the 20-pound mark.
Squats, deadlifts, and reverse lunges are all great exercises to try out with kettlebells.
If you want to pick up the pace then jumping rope is an amazing way to lose weight.
It might not seem like it, but this exercise really works your body and burns through fat fast. This burns around 600 calories per hour. It also strengthens your legs, helps you build bone density, improves your heart health, and is great for your coordination.
Jumping jacks, split jumps, and box jumps all provide similar benefits.
However, it is worth noting that this is quite a high-impact exercise. So if you have any issues with your knees and ankles, jumping rope might not be the best exercise for you.
Cycling is a great form of exercise if you’re looking for something low-impact that delivers great results. This supports cardiovascular health and is amazing for leg strength. It also burns around 600 calories per hour.
The best thing about cycling is that you can do it anywhere! You can stick to the bikes in the gym or you can top up your vitamin D levels on a bike ride out to a local park!
It is also extremely easy to incorporate cycling into your daily routine. This means that you will get a great workout without feeling like you’ve been to the gym.
If you are trying to lose weight, why not start cycling to work twice a week on top of your other workouts? This will mean you start your day off feeling fresh and full of endorphins. It’ll also help you lose weight quicker!
Swimming is another great low-impact form of cardio and offers some amazing health benefits. In fact, swimming for only 30 minutes a week can:
- Protect you from heart disease
- Lower your chances of having a stroke
- Reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Improve your mental health
Swimming provides a full-body workout, so it targets all of your major muscle groups even if you are swimming slowly. The water also adds resistance to your workout, which helps you build muscle.
Of course, the faster you swim, the harder your muscles have to work and the more calories you’ll burn. The best swimming strokes for weight loss are butterfly, front crawl, backstroke, and breaststroke.
Rowing works your entire body in a short space of time. You use your biceps, triceps, shoulders, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and back when rowing. This can burn between 500 and 600 calories per hour and improves your muscle tone.
Rowing on a nearby lake or waterway can be a welcome change of scene. However, this also requires a lot of expensive equipment and (often) a boat club membership.
Fortunately, you can still enjoy all of the benefits of rowing by using the machines at your local gym.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval training has been a favorite with professional trainers for years.
It can burn around 600 calories per hour and lets you switch up your workout so you don’t get bored. It also makes it easy to introduce different types of strength training into your workout.
HIIT workouts require you to put the maximum effort into your exercises for short, focused periods of time. This usually involves doing one exercise for 30 seconds to a minute and then taking a 20-second rest.
You can switch between a range of different exercises during this time to target different areas of your body. Or you can do a HIIT workout using your favorite exercises.
This is great for keeping your focus during your workout so you get the most out of each exercise.
Pairing Cardio Workouts With a Calorie Deficit
Cardio can have a huge impact on your weight loss in a short space of time. However, a lot of people make the mistake of relying on cardio alone to drop a few pounds.
It is important to mention that the most effective weight loss journeys combine this with dietary changes. While your workout might burn calories, you won’t notice a huge difference if you just keep replacing them in your meals.
Because of this, it is important to address your diet as well. Having a calorie deficit plays a huge role in your weight loss journey.
Of course, you need to do this in a healthy way. Most trainers recommend reducing your intake by around 500 calories per day. Even without cardio, this should help you lose 1 to 2 pounds a week.
Reducing your calorie intake might feel overwhelming, but there are some simple steps you can take to make this easier. This might involve:
- Switching out your regular snacks for healthy, low-calorie options
- Identifying one high-calorie treat and cutting this out of your diet (so you don’t have to limit everything)
- Keeping an eye on the things you drink and how many calories they contain (especially when it comes to alcohol)
- Drinking plenty of water
- Looking for low-calorie ingredient substitutes when cooking
- Being careful with your portion sizes (especially when you are batch cooking)
- Asking for a doggie bag rather than finishing an enormous plate
These tips mean that you can still enjoy the foods you love but in a way that supports your weight loss. This will help you maintain your weight over a long period of time.
The Importance of Strength Training
Strength training can also make a huge difference in your weight loss program. Some people find this a little confusing. After all, if you’re trying to lose weight, why would you want to build muscles?
However, as we’ve already mentioned, using your muscles more raises your heart rate, which burns calories. Your muscles also burn three times as many calories as fat does. So the more muscles you build, the more fat you will lose!
On top of all that, muscle and strength training will leave you looking leaner and more toned.
So what types of exercise are great for strength training? Here are some examples of brilliant strength training exercises:
- Lifting weights
- Doing push-ups, sit-ups, or squats
- Working with resistance bands
So it is important to incorporate these kinds of activities in your workouts.
Some exercises, such as HIIT classes and rowing, help you combine cardio and strength training in one go. So these can make a huge difference when it comes to losing weight.
Get Help With Your Weight Loss Journey Today
Using cardio workouts to lose weight will certainly make a big difference. There are plenty of different exercises you can try to get the best possible results. So you will be sure to find one to suit you.
For the best results, try pairing your cardio workouts with reduced calorie intake and strength training. You’ll start to see the difference in no time!
Are you looking for support with your weight loss journey? Then check out our amazing programs today. We’re here to help!