Cardio exercise should definitely be a part of your workout routine. But how you do it, is totally up to you. Running isn’t the only way to get your heart rate up or build your endurance. The key is finding a form of cardio that you actually enjoy doing.
Keep reading, and together we’ll chat about:
- When to do cardio exercise for optimal fat burning
- The difference between steady state cardio and HIIT cardio
- Some fun cardio options you can try to keep your body progressing
Ready? Great! Let’s get into it.
When should you do your cardio workout for fat burning?
Generally speaking, fasted cardio is the best way to increase your chance of fat burning. So for most of us, that would mean doing cardio first thing in the morning.
But realistically, the best time to do cardio is whenever works with your lifestyle. If you’re not a morning person, do your cardio in the evening. The most important part is that you actually get it in.
As a rule of thumb your cardio should land between the 20-45 minute mark and you should work out at a moderate to high level of intensity. That’s around 70-85% of your maximum heart rate if you’re using a heart rate monitor. You can calculate your max. heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
Steady state cardio vs. HIIT cardio
In my home fitness program, there are two different styles of cardio exercise that I recommend, including steady state and HIIT cardio. The reason I recommend both is to keep your workout varied, engaging and challenging enough to keep your body progressing. Both come with their own set of benefits.
Steady state is your typical jogger-type pace lasting at least 30 minutes. It builds endurance, keeps your heart healthy and de-stresses you. Uphill walking, cycling or going for a jog are all great options.
HIIT on the hand, is higher intensity that lasts for a shorter period of time. HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. It involves a number of high intensity periods followed by low intensity or rest periods. This interval style typically goes for 15-20 minutes (though it can last longer sometimes). Sprints are an easy example of what you would picture when you think of HIIT cardio.
6 forms of cardio exercise to help you hit your goals
What kind of cardio have you been doing? And most importantly, do you love it?
It’s really important that you find a type of cardio exercise that you like because it will keep you motivated to continue doing it. With regular cardio exercise you’ll start to notice the physical benefits, plus some mental ones. Aerobic exercise has been studied extensively to help improve mood and increase happiness. You’ll feel less stressed with regular cardio exercise and be able to approach your fitness routine with a more positive outlook.
So try a bunch of different types of cardio until you find one that you enjoy. The ones below are some of my top picks.
It’s what most people think of when it comes to cardio, and it’s definitely a great option. Running improves your cardiovascular fitness and endurance. You can easily switch up your pace and distance to keep your body challenged and you don’t need any equipment besides a good pair of shoes (and a great playlist!).
The downside to running is it can be hard on your joints, especially if you’re not paying attention to good form. If you have issues with your knees, hips or ankles, or experience long-standing pain after running, it’s likely not the best fit for you.
Cycling is a great alternative to running because you get the same endurance benefits without all the wear and tear on your joints. It’s a great workout for your leg muscles, and you can also easily adjust the pace and distance. Plus it’s flexible enough to do both indoors and outdoors.
Swimming often gets overlooked or forgotten about as a form of cardio workout, but it’s actually really effective for toning your muscles and building strength. It’s also super low impact making it a safe choice for anyone with joint issues.
4. Uphill walking
With uphill walking you get the cardiovascular benefits, improve your endurance and work your glutes and hamstrings. It’s also low impact, and can easily be done outside or at the gym.
As a kid you probably loved skipping because it was fun, but as an adult it’s great for getting you into better shape. With super minimal equipment needs (just a skipping rope and a pair of runners) you can take your cardio workout with you to work, while you travel or even to the airport while you wait for your flight.
Skipping gets your heart rate up and burns a lot of calories! You’ll want to aim for around 30 minutes, so the only downside is that as a newbie, you’ll have to take some time to build your way up to that.
Probably one of the less commonly used forms of cardio is rowing, yet it’s considered the highest calorie-burning form. You can use a rowing machine at the gym, or join a team if you want to really commit or make your workout more social. Either way, take it in stride, don’t forget to breath, and take your rest days.
Love your #innerbabe
Make the most of your cardio routine by finding something that you love. That way you’ll have fun doing it. Change it up regularly to your body guessing and target different muscle groups. If you have a heart rate monitor try to stay within the 70-85% range for at least 30 minutes to increase your fat burning potential.
And don’t forget, we love hearing about your progress. Share it with us in the #innerbabe community on Facebook, or comment below!