Best Cardio Workouts to Burn Fat and Lose Weight - Pros and Cons

As you get started with your workout program, one thing that you will want to be thinking about is which form of cardio you want to be doing to improve the results that you see. Is there one ‘best’ type of cardio that’s going to maximize your fat loss and improve your fitness level, or at the end of the day is it really going to matter?

Let’s go over the main types of cardio options that you can choose from so that you can get a clearer idea of which is right for you.

The Treadmill

The first type of cardio that’s one of the most popular options is the treadmill. The great thing about the treadmill is that it doesn’t take a high amount of skill and coordination to use this and it can be adapted to almost any fitness level. Whether you want to go for a long jog, perform interval sprints, do a simple walk, or improve your leg strength with a brisk incline walk, the options are plentiful with this machine.

The treadmill does tend to be harder on the knees and back than some other methods of cardio though, so if you do have pre-existing pain, that is something that you may want to be thinking about. The treadmill is one of the top calorie burners, especially when you are going at much higher intensity levels.

The Cross Trainer

The second piece of equipment that you’ll want to think about using is the cross trainer. This one is becoming more and more popular, especially among those who do suffer from knee or back pain as it’s a non-impact activity. What’s more is that since you have the option of working the arms while you do it as well, it’s a much more complete body exercise compared to the treadmill.

The cross trainer can be altered to produce a higher level of resistance as well, so regardless of your fitness level, you can be sure that it will provide that challenge.

The cross trainer will strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, quads, back, biceps, and triceps, so it is a good option for those who aren’t also participating in a formal strength training workout. The calorie burn, provided you are using enough resistance, is quite similar to that of running so total fat loss will be quite comparable.

The Bike

Moving along, the bike is the next type of cardio that some people like to consider as they go about their workout routine. Exercise bikes are ideal for those who want a non-impact activity and who really want to improve their overall lower body strength.

The drawback to the bike is that in some cases you may find that your leg strength tires before you do from a cardiovascular point of view, so if you really want to boost your cardiovascular performance, an activity that doesn’t have you pushing against resistance such as running would be a wiser bet.

Many people will opt to take spinning bike group classes, which will have you varying the tempo and intensity throughout the session and these can be one of the best types of calorie burning activities that you run into. The bike is a good option but typically won’t burn quite as many calories, unless performed at an extremely high intensity level, as running or the cross trainer would.

The Rowing Machine

Moving along, one type of cardio that often goes overlooked, either because people just don’t think of it or because they don’t have the piece of equipment at their gym is the rowing machine. For total fat burning though, the rowing machine earns top marks. The rowing machine is nice since it’ll also work both the lower and upper body muscles and is great for developing a high degree of power. The rowing machine is going to help to target the quads, glutes, and hamstrings to a smaller extent, while also working the back and biceps in the upper body.

The rowing machine will get your heart rate up considerably, so if you are looking for intense fat burning, it’s actually one of the best options to consider. It’s also non-impact, so your chances of impact joint pain are low, however some people may start to experience knee pain when working against higher resistance levels.

By making sure your knees are always moving over your toes however, you can help to prevent this pain from occurring. Also be sure that you really think of pulling through the back muscles rather than using the lower back and momentum to carry you through the movement to ensure that you aren’t putting yourself at risk for back pain. When done properly, the rowing machine is a great change of pace that will definitely help to increase your calorie burn up higher.

Swimming

Swimming is the next intense form of cardio to consider. This is a great full body exercise that will have you burning up calories quickly when performed to a high enough intensity level and is also completely non-impact in nature. Swimming is great for those who are suffering from and injury and want to keep up their cardiovascular fitness level and daily calorie burn.

The one thing that you will have to watch with swimming however is that it can cause you to get hungrier after you complete it, so if this does make it harder for you to stick with your fat loss diet, you’ll really have to weigh the pros and cons. Maintaining a good diet program is one of the most critical factors for success as far as weight loss is concerned.

Since it does work every muscle in the body however, this form of cardio is going to generate top notch fat burning results.

Group Classes

Finally, the last type of cardio option that you might want to think about is group fitness classes. Whether it’s a boxing class, a boot camp class, or some other group class, many people do really enjoy these. They take great pleasure in the group atmosphere of these and find that group classes are going to help keep them motivated and coming back for more unlike the solo cardio sessions.

Boot camp classes are also nice since they will work you from a resistance point of view as well as you’ll incorporate a number of different exercises into the mix such as lunges, squats, push-ups, and so on. For anyone who wants variety, group classes are a great way to go and can be just as good for calorie burning benefits as more traditional forms of cardio.

So there you have some pros and cons of each type of cardio workout. Remember, at the end of the day the best cardio for you to choose is the one that you enjoy the most. No cardio workout is going to provide you with benefits if you aren’t completing it, so pay close attention to the enjoyment factor when making your decision. Include cardio forms that you look forward to and that encourage you to give 100% and you’ll be on track to success.

About The Author: Aaron is an avid write who loves sports and fitness. He has worked at rec centers and played sports since he was young, and enjoys staying active. Aaron's Editor-In-Chief role at FitRated.com is to write reviews of the products that will help our readers the most. (Image Credit:  Freedigitalphotos, Photoxpress)

Elliptical Reviews

I found a great blog which is very informative and helpful. They offer an explanation on what features are important when choosing an elliptical machine. Go to blog.yowzafitness.com/elliptical-review-learn-which-features-are-most-important-and-why/ to read blog by Yowzafitness.com.

Treadmills vs. Ellipticals

Here's a good article on the advantages and disadvantages of treadmills and ellipticals: treadmill-world.com/which-is-better-treadmill-or-elliptical.html

Body Weight?

After a little research on the subject, I was under the impression that the best form of cardio was arguably body weight exercises that can be perform anywhere - such as burpee'ss / half-burpee's / Hill Climbers / Squad Jumps. Especially effective when you're also lifting weights.

Is there any truth to this?

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