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What Is The Best Cardio Workout For Burning Off Fat?

What is the best cardio workout for burning off fat? Our forum members chime in once again and give you some great reasons to try HIIT.
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What Is The Best Cardio Workout For Burning Off fat?

What is the best cardio workout for burning off fat?

As the summer approaches - and even during the summer - we will want to pick up the pace on cardio to help in burning off the fat we have so carefully accumulated over the cold winter months.

What is the best cardio workout for burning off fat?

What supplements would work well with a spring/summer cardio plan?

Bonus Question: Why is it so important to stay hydrated during this time? Have you ever experienced a situation where someone became extremely dehydrated?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

  1. redhawk76
  2. LJ57
  3. VeinMania

First Place redhawk76

Well, it seems as if it is that time of year again. Everyone is beginning to "cut" in an attempt to lose that body fat they gained over the winter months. What does this mean for any given bodybuilder? This means a change in diet, and an increase in good old cardio.

This is usually not pleasing to the ear of a bodybuilder who has come accustomed to eating everything in sight, and only expending large amounts of energy during weight lifting. I mean honestly, who wants to sit on the stationary bike and stare at the wall any longer than necessary.

I will show you how to burn fat more efficiently, and spend LESS time in the gym. If you struggle with staying motivated for cardio, and need to lose some fat for the beach, then by all means continue reading.

What Is The Best Cardio Workout For Burning Off Fat?

For quite a while it has been accepted that low-intensity cardio was the best for burning fat. According to studies this method burned the calories primarily from fat. This has recently been disproved, as a new and exciting way to perform cardio has arisen.

The best cardio for burning off that stubborn fat will have you in the gym shorter than you'd expect. This cardio is called HIIT-High Intensity Interval Training. The concept is pretty simple.

You transition from low-moderate intensity intervals to very high intensity intervals. If you judge by the readout on the given exercise machine, you might assume that going at a low intensity for 30-45 minutes would burn more calories than 15 minutes OR LESS utilizing HIIT. This is not true, however, as many of the calories you burn come after you leave the gym (When performing HIIT).

15 minutes may seem to good to be true to lose weight, but it is not. However, you must keep in mind this is no walk in the park. This is very demanding, but extremely rewarding and time-saving. HIIT will support your metabolism so that you are burning calories later in the day. You will burn fat if calories out exceed calories in, and you will expend more calories by choosing HIIT.

HIIT can be performed on many different exercise machines, as well as outside or on the track. In all situations, make sure to warm up for about 3-5 minutes. Once you are ready to go, you will begin your intervals.

As a beginner start with 30 seconds at a moderate pace (approx 50% maximum effort) and after 30 seconds go as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Then repeat. If performing on an exercise machine other than the treadmill, make sure to rev up the intensity level so that it is challenging for you.

Complete a total of 5-8 intervals your first time. You will find it more difficult than it sounds. Once you are spent, take another 3-5 minutes to cool down. That's all you have to do. Only 5-8 minutes of actual working sets, and you are on your way to shedding some serious fat.

If not done on an exercise machine, you can still apply the same concept. Simply run, jump, swim, or anything you desire, at the intervals proposed above.

What Supplements Would Work Well With A Spring/Summer Cardio Plan?

Whenever starting a new workout regimen, it is extremely important to consult your doctor. When doing so, you should also consult with your doctor to see if the following supplements are okay for you.

The majority of them are the basics, and very safe. However, certain people have conditions which make it unwise to take these. Problems may arise with the fat burners in particular. Assuming you are healthy, however, there should be no negative effects as long as the directions are followed correctly.

Multi-Vitamin

The majority of vitamins and minerals should come from the whole foods that you consume. However, the average diet will not be able to attain the level necessary, especially when exercising. When stepping up your program and cardio, it becomes even more essential to consume a multi-vitamin.

My Top 3 Recommendations:

Creatine

Many people tend to avoid creatine when attempting to lose weight due to the possible bloating effects it may have. Even if this does occur, it will not hinder your fat loss. Creatine is great for maintaining your strength when in a calorie deficit. Since you will be attempting to lose weight, I recommend some cheap bulk creatine monohydrate.

Here Are 3 Affordable Options:

BCAA's

Short for branched-chain amino acids, BCAA's are extremely important when upping the cardio. BCAA's will allow you to hold onto that muscle when dieting down. It will spare your muscles when you are performing cardio, so that you do not become catabolic.

My Favorites Include:

Whey Protein

Supplementing whey protein will allow you to reach your daily target. When cutting it is very important to have plenty of protein, which can be difficult to attain with all whole foods.

When your daily diet is not enough, whey protein shakes can be very convenient and affordable. Here are my two favorite brands:

Fat Burners

The supplements I have listed so far will provide you with everything you need to lose fat, assuming your diet and exercise program are in check. However, if you need a little extra help to shed those last few pounds, these following fat burners may assist you.

These are my personal recommendations:

Stimulant Fat Burners:

These will give you some extra energy you need while training with low calories, and will help suppress your appetite.

Non-stimulant Fat Burners:

These are generally deemed safer alternatives, and contain no stimulants whatsoever.

There are certainly other options and alternatives out there, however I don't believe you need more than these recommendations. Remember, diet and exercise is the most important part, and a fat burner will do nothing if these are not in check.

Why Is It So Important To Stay Hydrated During This Time? Have You Ever Experienced A Situation Where Someone Became Extremely Dehydrated?

When you are expending so much energy performing cardio, your body will lose plenty of water. It is very important to replace these fluids so that you do not become dehydrated. Water is essential for numerous functions of the body, including in the brain.

When dehydration occurs, these processes get performed less efficiently, and can lead to serious problems. You will certainly become light-headed, and your short term memory will immediately be affected. Water is essential for processes such as maintaining blood pressure, body temperature, as well as digestion.

These will all suffer if you allow yourself to become dehydrated. When you feel thirsty, it is often too late. Not so much so that you are in danger yet, but you are already dehydrated to some extent. So you can see why it would be extremely important to have a water bottle with you during your cardio.

I have never witnessed someone else become extremely dehydrated; however I personally had a close call last summer. We were playing soccer in some very hot weather. The game continued for long after our water bottles ran out. It was very intense, and the need for water was pushed to the back of my mind.

Toward the end of the game I had a terrible headache and was struggling to see. My vision was very blurry. It was an alarming situation, and certainly a learning experience. I had not realized how serious an issue hydration was until this moment.

2nd place LJ57

What Is The Best Cardio Workout For Burning Off Fat?

The best cardio workout for burning fat is one of high intensity that gets the job done in as little time as possible. High intensity usually means that your cardio workout will involve working about 75% or greater of your maximum heart rate.

You can find calculators on this site that will allow you to determine your maximum heart rate and adjust your intensity levels more precisely. The benefit of high intensity cardio is that you can burn more fat in a shorter amount of time and minimize catabolism that can result from too much cardio.

Another important aspect of creating the best cardio workout is ensuring that it does not become boring. Since you will be performing cardio for a much shorter period of time than if you were following a low intensity protocol, the boredom factor should in itself be significantly lessened.

In addition, you can eradicate boredom by using a variety of machines in your workout. For example, you can switch between the treadmill, elliptical machine, and recumbent or stationary bike during one cardio workout.

High intensity cardio need not be sustained for the full duration of the workout which should not need to be extended beyond 15-20 minutes. High intensity periods will be punctuated with moderate intensity periods throughout the workout.

You will want to spend a minute or two getting warmed up by working at a low intensity pace. Once you feel thoroughly warmed up you should increase the intensity of cardio to about 75% of your maximum heart rate for about 30 seconds before returning to a moderate pace for about one minute.

If you are using a treadmill you will sprint for those 30 seconds. If you are on a cycling machine you will cycle vigorously during that time. You can adapt the way you increase intensity for whatever cardio exercise you choose. Whichever you choose, you will work at high intensity levels for 30 seconds before returning to a slower pace for about one minute.

Take a few minutes before ending your workout to cool down. Just as you warmed up for a couple of minutes before increasing intensity, you should also spend a couple of minutes preparing to complete your workout. The cool down is just as important as warming up as it helps to promote recovery and decrease soreness.

As for frequency it is best to limit these intense cardio sessions to no more than 3-4 times per week. The majority of people seem to subscribe to the "more is better" philosophy of cardio and end up devoting 6-7 days to it. This is an excessive amount of cardio regardless of what intensity level it is performed at.

What Supplements Would Work Well With A Spring/Summer Cardio Plan?

Many people assume that supplements are not needed for cardio workouts in the way that they are for weight training. In fact, many assume that supplements cannot improve cardio workout aimed at burning fat period.

There are, however, several supplements that are extremely beneficial for anyone following a cardio plan. The spring and summer are the two seasons when cardio and fat loss often become top priorities. Therefore, it is important to know what supplements will assist with these goals.

Fat Burner

The first supplement worth using is a good quality fat burner. These products support a great deal in the body and greatly enhance fat burning. Not all fat burners, however, are suitable for everybody. You need to assess how your body handles the stimulants commonly found in fat burners such as caffeine, yohimbine, and synephrine.

These are very effective ingredients but if you are sensitive to stimulants you should avoid these products. There are several alternatives for people who cannot or prefer not to use supplements containing stimulants. Controlled Labs Red Acid (Version 2) is a great fat burner that does not have these stimulant ingredients yet still increases fat burning.

Acetyl L-carnitine

Acetyl L-carnitine assists in the fat burning process by increasing fat oxidation. It is the acetyl ester of L-carnitine and aids in the transport of long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria.

This helps your body use more fat for energy when exercising. The recommended dosage is usually 500mg taken three times per day. One of these doses should be taken before performing cardio.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is most commonly used to improve anaerobic endurance such as that required in intense weight training sessions. One of the little known benefits of this compound is its ability to enhance aerobic endurance such as that required for successful high intensity cardio workouts. Citrulline malate can support aerobic performance, and support faster blood lactate recovery after exercise.

Branched Chain Amino Acids

Branched chain amino acids (BCAA) are, in my opinion, the most important and beneficial supplement you can use for getting the most out of cardio workouts. In the spring and summer you are most likely going to want to burn as much fat as possible without sacrificing muscle.

Intense exercise can lead your body to break down muscle tissue to obtain BCAA's. You don't want to consume calories from protein shakes or from carbohydrates before trying to burn calories with cardio.

BCAA's offer the ultimate solution by giving your body the fuel it needs during cardio without calories and without resulting in an insulin spike. A few servings of a product like Scivation's Xtend before and during cardio workouts can make an enormous difference in the results you get. Xtend contains a large dose of BCAA's as well as Citrulline Malate, which we looked at previously.

Whey Protein Isolate

As I mentioned above you do not want to consume a protein shake before or during your cardio workout due to the caloric content. However, whey protein is a great supplement for use after performing cardio. I recommend consuming whey protein isolate (WPI) about 30 minutes following your cardio session.

WPI is a fast absorbing protein that is low in both carbohydrates and fats and usually contains only about 100 calories per serving. By consuming a serving after your workout you will refuel your body and maintain muscle growth.

Bonus question: Why Is It So Important To Stay Hydrated During This Time? Have You Ever Experienced A Situation Where Someone Became Extremely Dehydrated?

There's really nothing more important than staying hydrated when you're working out. Intense cardio, in particular, puts you at a greater risk for getting dehydrated. Fluid loss through perspiration is a certainty when you are engaged in high intensity cardio.

It essentially serves as your body's own form of air conditioning and when dehydration sets in, you put yourself at great risk. A marathon runner competing in hot weather can have a body temperature as high as 105 degrees. During intense training as much as 2.5 liters of fluid can be lost from the body. It is imperative that dehydration be prevented when engaging in any form of intense exercise.

In the eighth grade I played football and saw the closest thing to serious dehydration that I have ever witnessed. Although we were always encouraged to stay hydrated and get a drink of water whenever we needed it, most players on my team were afraid to take the advice of the coach and step out of practice for water.

We mainly just waited until the coach called for an official water break. At practice one day one of my teammates became very dizzy and had trouble just staying on his feet.

When the coach went to check on him, he was suffering from dizziness, dry mouth, and had an excessively reddish appearance in his face. One of the assistant coaches took him to see the doctor and he fortunately recovered quickly. It was frightening, nonetheless, to see even the initial stages of dehydration.

3rd place VeinMania

What Is The Best Cardio Workout For Burning Off Fat?

HIIT

Many think that you need to be in the "Fat Burning Zone" (70%-80% MHR) to shred that excess fat. But, I am a firm believer that HIIT will help burn off the extra fat that covers any well formed physique. Everyone's goal at about this time of year is to get that "beach body," that will make heads turn at the beach. Although you cannot accomplish this with man boobs and a beer belly.

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, it is a very intense form of cardio that shortens up your time in the gym. Although training at 70%-80% of your MHR maximizes the amount of fat burned, it may not be the best way to maximize fat loss. HIIT uses frequent alternating periods of high-intensity (80%-90% MHR) and low-intensity (50%-60% MHR) to let you recover for your next high-intensity interval.

Since HIIT is very intense you will be working harder and will not need to spend as much time on the cardio. This means that your HIIT workouts will only last 15-25 minutes, depending on how intense your high-intensity periods are.

Even though steady-state cardio for 60 minutes in the "Fat Burning Zone" burns more calories you will lose more fat doing HIIT. Why? High-intensity bouts keep your metabolism elevated at a higher rate and for a longer period after the exercise is over.

Try this simple HIIT workout at your next cardio session.

The Workout

Intensity (% Max HR) Time
50%2 min
60%1 min
80%1 min
85%1 min
60%1 min
90%1 min
60%1 min
90%1 min
60%1 min
90%1 min
60%1 min
90%1 min
60%1 min
85%1 min
60%1 min
80%1 min
50%2 min

*Note, these Max HR %'s (shown at right) are just the ideal intensity you do not necessarily need a HR monitor, although some cardio machines have one built in.

*This workout can be done on any machine. These includes the Treadmill, stationary cycle, stair-stepper, elliptical etc. Although the Treadmill will defiantly be the most effective if your goal is to lose fat.

When To Do Cardio?

There has for a long time been a debate to which time to do cardio so it is most effective. Morning cardio is very effective at burning fat because you are in a fasted state. This means that you have not had any food yet, primarily carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate intake increases your Insulin, a potent anabolic hormone, that will decrease fat-burning. Although fasted cardio can comprise you muscle tissue because your body will break them down for energy. This is why I recommend you take in 10-20g of whey protein or 6 grams of BCAA's before your morning cardio to increase fat-burning and maintain muscle mass.

If you are lifting weight and doing cardio in the same day, lift before you do your cardio. Studies show this leads to a greater release of GH after exercise.

GH is a very potent fat-burning and muscle building hormone.

It is very important to have a good and consistent diet when you goal is fat loss. Although there are many supplements out there that will give you an "edge."

Some of these Supplements include:

Carnitine

Carnitine is an amino acid-like compound that helps transport of fats into the mitochondria of cells, where they can be burned for energy. Try taking this before morning cardio to increase the fat burning effects of cardio.

Green Tea Extract

Green Tea Extract is in almost every fat-burner this day in age. It contains EGCG, a catechin that breaks down norepinephrine, the neurotransmitter involved with maintaining metabolic rate and fat-burning.

Caffeine

It aids fat loss by binding to fat cells to enhance the removal of fat and inhibit storage. It also gives you that boost that will get you through tough workouts. There is caffeine in Green Tea Extract, so no need to buy this product separately.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey Protein Powder would not normally be thought of as a fat burner but, it will help you gain muscle mass, which will in turn, burn fat. Take 10-20g before cardio to preserve muscle mass.

Creatine

Creatine is a supplement that helps put on muscle mass. More muscle mass will mean more calories burned.

Multi-Vitamin

Getting all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs is very important not only too your health, but if your goal is fat loss. A deficiency in any of the important vitamins and minerals could mean a decrease in performance.

BCAA's

BCAA's are the essential amino acids that you body needs to build and maintain muscle mass. They are very important because they will make sure you retain muscle mass, because loss of muscle mass means a decrease in metabolism. Take about 6g before cardio to preserve muscle mass.

Fat Burning Stack

Take this Fat Burning Stack before cardio to maximize fat burning and preserve muscle mass.

Fat Burning Stack:

  • 1000mg Carnitine
  • 500mg Green Tea Extract
  • 100mg Caffeine
  • Multi-Vitamin
  • 10-20g Whey Protein
  • -or-
  • 1000mg Carnitine
  • 500mg Green Tea Extract
  • 100mg Caffeine
  • Multi-Vitamin
  • 6g BCAA's

Bonus Question: Why Is It So Important To Stay Hydrated During This Time? Have You Ever Experienced A Situation Where Someone Became Extremely Dehydrated?

When we workout, we sweat and lose body fluids. To avoid dehydration we need to replenish our body fluids. This is something many often overlook, and it can lead to scary scenarios. Dehydration can even lead to death in extreme cases. To ensure you stay hydrated and at optimum performance drink 16 ounces of fluid before exercise, 5-12 ounces every 15-20 minutes of exercise, and 16-25 ounces after training.

I have never in fact been dehydrated that I know of. This is definitely because I follow the direct given above.

In conclusion HIIT is the best way to shed excess fat. This is because it keeps your metabolism burning at a higher rate for much longer after exercise than steady-state cardio. Cardio is most effective for burning fat at a fasted state in the morning, although make sure you take 10-20g whey protein or 6g of BCAA's to preserve muscle mass. Make sure you watch your hydration to keep performance optimum.



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DiGiorgio93

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DiGiorgio93

How often would these workouts be recommended to perform? every other day?

Apr 9, 2013 6:23pm | report
 
Sp0nX

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Sp0nX

Honestly, it's recommended around 3-4 times a week.

Nov 11, 2013 8:44am | report
 
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