There's varying opinions among fitness experts about the best cardio routine so who should you believe? The experts telling you that long duration moderate cardio is best or the ones telling you that short high intensity cardio is the only way to go, or should you listen to the endurance athlete types who are gung ho about running or cycling many miles each week.
The truth is there is no best cardio workout. All these approaches are effective and you need them at different stages of your life or body makeover plan and when you use the right type of cardio at the right time the results are amazing. Below is what you need to know to choose wisely and get the results you desire.
Long duration cardio workouts are typically between 40 and 90 minutes and can be anything from running, walking, cardio machines, spinning class, dance fitness, rowing, or aerobics videos. This type of cardio is more steady state with few high intensity intervals. Many fitness experts who only focus on fatloss will tell you this is never important but here's why it does matter and when you should do it:
If you are experiencing any of the above then this is not the
time to go all out and get crazy with hardcore high intensity intervals. Stick with
more moderate cardio (notice I didn't say easy). Try 40-45 minutes and break it
down like this: 10 minute warm-up at moderate pace, 20-25 minutes working
slightly harder, then 10 minute cool down at moderate pace.
Feel good that you are doing something to improve your endurance. Try it 3-4 times a week for a couple of weeks. As soon as you feel your endurance improve try adding in some random intervals during the 20-25 minutes when you're working harder. This will prepare your body for high intensity interval training cardio which is more demanding and great for losing excess bodyfat or for advanced endurance workouts.
According to all the research findings high intensity cardio burns 9 times more fat than the long duration cardio plus it's time efficient which is great if you need to burn more fat and calories with quick workouts.
Most fitness experts these days preach that HIIT is THE best cardio routine and the only type of cardio people should be doing but the reality is it isn't the best fit for everybody.
HIIT works best for people who have a decent level of endurance, no injuries or serious postural imbalances, or toxic stress. In other words you have to be somewhat healthy and already fit to do this type of cardio otherwise your body will become less healthy. The more stress and intensity you try to endure when your unhealthy and very out of shape the more likely you are to get injured and struggle to burn the fat.
If you have been doing moderate intensity cardio for a while then HIIT is a great progression for you but start gradually.
Try 2 HIIT cardio workouts per week along with 2 long duration cardio workouts per week and as your endurance improves work up to 4 HIIT cardio sessions per week until you reach your weightloss or fatloss goal.
Once you are at your goal you can scale back to a mix of various types of cardio so your body doesn't plateau and so you avoid painful injuries that pack the fat back on your body. Get started with any of my gymboss interval timer routines or try some of my favorite jump rope workout routines.
If you're already doing HIIT cardio and you want to burn even more calories and get super fit then dynamic bodyweight cardio is exactly what your body needs. It's fast paced demanding but quick and can be adapted for people of all levels and can be combined with any of the other types of cardio too.
This type of cardio involves a lot of quick full body movement including jumping, hoping, leaping, pushing and pulling so is best for people who already have general endurance and strength. This type of cardio is very metabolic which means that even though you are doing bodyweight resistance training the result is fat burning cardio vs. lean muscle building.
So even though this does count as resistance training it mainly targets your endurance systems so isn't the best way to get a lot more muscular or stronger. If you are happy with the amount of strength and muscle you have and are looking to burn fat, burn calories and improve endurance for other activities then aim for 1-2 sessions per week of this type of cardio plus 1-2 sessions of other types of cardio as well.
The cardio routine in the video is one of my favorite bodyweight cardio workouts using just a chair and a timer. It's quick, intense, and fun!
Going for a 60 mile bike ride that takes all morning or a 13 mile hike that takes 5-8 hours or playing a sport that takes several hours can burn 1000 calories or more and is a great way to challenge your body and test your fitness levels.
You can do this once a week or once a month or at least try it every few months or when on vacation for these key reasons:
Endurance cardio puts all your workouts to the test to see if they're actually making you fitter. It's also a fun challenging that gets you out of your weekly routine which is great for busting plateaus whether they're physical, mental or emotional.
The pic above is from one of our hikes in Hawaii last year. We ended up hiking/walking about 40 miles in 5 days and saw so much amazing stuff because we walk on a weekly basis for endurance.
I've been exercising consistently for nearly 30 years and training female clients for about 14 years and what I've found works best for most women is a mix of all 4 types of cardio. Here's a simple way to accomplish that:
This is just one example of dozens of ways you can create your best cardio routine for your best female figure. When you're putting together your cardio schedule be creative, have fun but most importantly just stay consistent for best results.