Most people know that cardio is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and drop fat. But one question often remains for individuals looking for the right routine – what is the best cardio for weight loss? The answer to how you should train varies slightly depending on your goals; however, cardio is always a constant. Discover the 8 best cardio workouts for weight loss and start adding them into your routine to burn fat and boost your energy.

1. Elliptical Intervals

man and woman on an elliptical bike

The elliptical is a great low impact cardio option. It was designed to be easy on the knees while still delivering where it counts, and it certainly does. That is of course if you’re doing it correctly. If you choose to exercise at a moderate but constant pace, it would take nearly an hour to burn 500 to 600 calories. However, if you change speed, intensity, and resistance, you’ll increase your calorie burn and activate more leg muscles.

For the best workout, change between intervals that vary in speed, incline, and direction. You’ll activate more muscles groups that way and feel it more in a short period of time.

2. Jump Rope

jump rope, best cardio for weight loss

Although not as easy on the joints as an elliptical workout, jumping rope is another one of the best cardio for weight loss. This exercise not only increases foot speed, but it also burns a ton of calories. So if you’re looking to drop weight, invest in a lightweight jump rope and start jumping.

If you want to get the most out of this workout, push yourself to go as hard as you can for 1 to 2 minutes and then rest for a half a minute or so.

3. Spin

Spin class working out with motivational instructor

Stationary bikes are common in both gyms and homes, but you may not see a ton of people lining up to use them. That is because the intensity with which you must spin or cycle is vigorous. In fact, a 180 pound man can expect to burn upwards of 1,000 calories for a ride that is an hour long.

Much like with the elliptical or jump rope, you’ll get more of a burn when spinning if you push hard for 1 to 2 minutes. Then drop back to a more comfortable speed for a minute or so.

4. Lap Pool

Backstroke swimming start

Swimming is an exercise that works the entire body. As soon as you hit water that is deep enough, you begin having to swim or tread water to avoid sinking. Add to that the effort of doing laps in the pool, and you have one of the best cardio for weight loss. In fact, lap swimming can burn as many as 14 calories per minute.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that different strokes burn calories differently. A combined stroke like the butterfly burns more calories than a simple one like the breast stroke. To maximize your effort in the pool, be sure to switch between different strokes and push yourself for short periods as if you were racing.


high-intensity interval training

HIIT or high-intensity interval training is a newer workout style. It has the benefit of an extremely high burn of both calories and fat. While exact numbers differ depending on your weight, the intensity of the workout, and the length of the HIIT, you can expect to burn anywhere between 500 and 1500 calories for an hour of work.

The big benefit of HIIT is that it combines body weight exercises with weight moves and offsets that with cardio. That recipe of exercises is one of the best cardio for weight loss. HIIT is also easy to do almost anywhere, whether you have a gym or not.

6. Sprint Intervals

Sportive couple sprinting in gym

The key to burning the most fat and getting the biggest energy boost is pushing your body to its peak and then giving it a chance to recoup for a short period. This drastic change in paces makes your body work harder to compensate and use its energy stores to fuel itself. That said, sprint intervals are another one of the best cardio for weight loss options.

You can perform this exercise whether on the treadmill or outside on a track. In either location run at your all out speed for 30 seconds to a minute and then let off the gas and jog for 20 to 30 seconds. Then repeat the intervals for as many repetitions as you can.

7. Weighted Cardio

Young woman weight training

Adding weights to your cardio, whether it’s on the elliptical, treadmill, or otherwise, is another way to increase your calorie burn and get more out of your workout. As you add weight to your workout, your body in effect has to work harder to carry the added weight, so you naturally use more oxygen, boost your metabolism, and increase your blood flow – all components of burning more calories and dropping fat faster.

To get the most benefit from this exercise, focus on adding weight that will challenge your legs and glutes. These are the largest muscles in your body, so they have the capacity to burn the most calories. For example, try weight squats or walking weighted lunges.

8. CrossFit

Woman, during training with ropes

While there is a long debate on whether CrossFit is classified as cardio or not, the bottom line is CrossFit is anaerobic in nature, meaning it works the body in ways that require high outputs of energy in short, quick burst – much like the other interval options suggested above.

CrossFit is highly effective for burning fat, building muscle, and increasing both aerobic and anaerobic capacity, so it definitely belongs on the list of best cardio for weight loss. That is, of course, as long as you are up for the challenge.
To learn how to safely and effectively include CrossFit training in your workout routine, you should visit a CrossFit gym.

Summing Up

Cardio is an important part of any workout routine, but it is even more important to do the right type of cardio. The best cardio for weight loss incorporates high intensity intervals that force your body to work at its peak before slowing back down. Some of the best examples are sprint intervals, HIIT, and weighted cardio, among others. But always be sure to consult your healthcare provider before beginning any new training regimen to avoid injury.

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