The best cardio exercise is simply the one you will do day in and day out consistently. Choose one which you enjoy doing and don't be afraid to mix the exercises up. Interval cardio work consists of moving from one exercise to another in set time intervals. For example, you could do the elliptical trainer for 15 minutes, then switch to the stationary bike for another 15 minutes and finish off on the treadmill for the last 15 minutes. Interval training is a great way to keep everything fresh!
There are two schools of though when it comes to cardio training. The "slow & steady" group and the "high intensity" group. These two groups breakdown like this:
Slow & Steady Cardio
- Long duration (45min - 1 hour)
- Low intensity
- Burn fat and not carbs
- Preserve joints
High Intensity Cardio
- Short duration (20min - 30min)
- High intensity (interval training)
- Burn tons of calories & rev up your metabolism throughout the day
- Treat cardio like weights - explosive movements (sprinting, etc)
Our advice is to try both for at least 6 weeks and make sure to monitor your progress with a journal and take weekly photos of yourself to see if you're truly losing body fat.
Which Cardio Exercise Burns the Most Calories?
Below are the top 10 cardio exercises which burn the most calories in 30 minutes.
- Step Aerobics - one of the most favorite cardio exercises preferred by women. Step Aerobics mainly target your legs, hips and glutes, and can burn approx. 400 calories in 30 minutes.
- Bicycling - stationary or outdoors is a great cardio exercises, depending on resistance and speed can but 250 to 500 calories in 30 minutes.
- Swimming - like cross-country skiing is an excellent cardio exercises as it is a full body exercises. Swimming is a great cross-training for other cardio activities. Doing the breast stroke can burn approx. 400 calories in 30 minutes.
- Racquetball - side to side sprinting makes racquetball and excellent cardio exercises. A 145-lb person burns over 400 calories in 30 minutes.
- Rock Climbing - is not only a cardio exercises, but also uses arm and leg strength and power. Rock Climbing can burn up to 380 calories in 30 minutes.
- Cross-Country Skiing - whether on a machine or outdoors on snow, is an incredible cardio exercises as it involves both upper and lower body. A 145 lb person can burn approx 330 calories in 30 minutes.
- Running - Running is an excellent cardio exercises because all you need is a pair of quality running shoes. Running burns serious calories. A 145 LB person can easily burn 300 calories in 30 minutes.
- Elliptical Trainer - is an excellent cardio exercises and a great way to build endurance. A 145 LB person can burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes.
- Rowing - is both a cardio exercises as well as giving your arms an incredible workout. 145 LB person can burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes.
- Walking - Brisk walking is a less strenuous form of cardio exercises. Walking can burn up to 180 calories in 30 minutes. Sprinting, adding hills or an incline can increase amount of calories burned.
For the real high intensity cardio people out there who love the H.I.I.T training (High Intensity Interval Training), below are the top three cardio exercise which will provide amazing results!
- Jumping Rope - This is one of the simplest, yet most effective exercises one can do. In just 15 to 20 minutes, jumping rope will give you an unparalleled total body workout. Jumping rope is ideal for cardiovascular endurance and enhances performance in virtually any sport - tennis, basketball, football, skiing, volleyball and more. This simple exercise is also great for eye-hand coordination, lateral movement, foot and hand speed and agility.
- Sprinting - Sprinting not only burns HUGE amounts of calories while sprinting, it also keeps your metabolism flying for days after. Sprinting combined with running / jogging can bring amazing results
- Spinning - These high-intensity workouts to music simulate a challenging bike ride, complete with hills, valleys and varying speeds, all dictated by the group instructor.
Heart rate levels and benefits
When you perform a cardio workout, you raise your heart rate. How much you raise your heart rate will determine the types of benefits you receive from that workout.
The graph above shows how many beats per minute you should strive to reach for the various levels of cardio activity. The top three sections are all considered aerobic activity whereas the bottom two are considered anaerobic (things like warm up exercises and standard weight lifting generally do not achieve aerobic levels of beats per minute).
Invaluable in doing cardio for maximum benefit is the use of a heart rate monitor. You'd be surprised how many people work harder than necessary and, therefore, do not actually workout within their target heart rate.
Track your cardio progress with the Polar Heart Rate Monitor for Women. See your heart rate while working out, track your calories burned during one workout session, track your calories over the course of multiple workouts, and use the monitor to help you track your cardio goals.
Uses OwnCode technology to eliminate interference from other heart monitors so you can use it in group workouts and get stats on just your workout.
I've used a Polar heart rate monitor for 10 years. It's never failed me. It works by placing a strap across your chest just under your bra line. The strap tracks your heart beat and feeds the information to the matched watch style heart rate monitor. You customize the monitor with your own personal data including age and weight and the heart monitor will alert you when you need to adjust your pace to stay within your target heart rate. It's like a mini coach!
Price: $36.04 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping.
You Save: $33.91 (48%)