What is the best type of cardio for fat loss?
Well, let’s first assume the following:
- You are overweight and looking to lose fat
- You performing resistance training
- You are a novice; that is you are not preparing for any type of bodybuilding contest (that can change things)
Before we get into this, you will need to know how to calculate your maximum heart rate. You can do so by subtracting your age from 210. So for me, it would be 210-35=175 maximum heart rate.
Three Different Types of Cardio
LISS (Low Intensity Steady State). This type of cardio would be something like brisk walking. Typically with this type of cardio training you are at about 55-65% of your maximum heart rate. For me, that is about 110-120 or so. With your heart rate at this level, you can usually talk and exercise comfortably at the same time. You can measure your heart rate by putting your fingers on your pulse on your neck, and counting your pulses for 10 seconds, then multiple by six.
- The the theory behind low intensity cardio is that you burn a greater percentage of fat when your heart rate is lower like this. So the theory goes, when your heart rate is around this level you burn about 50 percent of your calories from fat. However, because you are exercising at a lower intensity, you are going to burn less calories as well. Let’s do some math.
- 30 minutes of low intensity cardio. Let’s say you burned 150 calories. If the old theory holds true, about burning 50% of calories from fat, then you should have burned 75 calories from fat.
MISS (Medium Intensity Steady State). This is pretty self explanatory. You are a couple notches above the low intensity, but well below your maximum. Your heart rate would be around 70-85% of your maximum heart rate. For me that would be around 125-145.
- With medium intensity cardio it is thought that you burn calories at the same level or same speed as you do with LISS. However, seeing as you would be exercising a bit harder, you would lose more calories. Let’s do some math.
- 30 minutes of steady state cardio. Let’s say you burned 200 calories. If the theory is correct, about burning 50% of your calories from fat with MISS, then you would burn about 100 calories from fat.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). This is intense, just as the description says. This cardio has gotten all sorts of hype the past few years, and many have called it the Holy Grail of Fat Loss. I wouldn’t go that far. Let me explain what it is.
With this cardio you perform intervals. So you vary your speed from low and slow to high and fast. Here’s an example. This is one of my favorite interval workouts.
Time Speed Difficulty (1-10 scale) 0:00-5:00 Warmup 1-4 5:30-6:00 Interval 7-8 6:00-7:30 Recovery 1-4 7:30-8:00 Interval 8-9 8:00-9:30 Recovery 1-4 9:30-10:00 Interval 10 (ALL OUT) 10:00-11:30 Recovery 1-4 11:30-12:00 Interval 7-8 12:00-13:30 Recovery 1-4 13:30-14:00 Interval 8-9 14:00-15:30 Recovery 1-4 15:30-16:00 Interval 10 (ALL OUT) 16:00-20:00 Cool-Down 1-4
- Now you may wonder, 20 minutes of cardio what good does that do? Well, let me tell you; If you haven’t exercised all out as hard and as fast as you can, you are in for a treat, lol. Your lung will be burning, your heart will be beating, you will be cursing the day that you ever stepped on that treadmill. It is an amazing workout. Short, sweet, efficient, etc.
- 20 minutes of HIIT cardio. Let’s say you burned 275 calories. If the theory holds true and you burn 35% of your calories from fat, then that would be 96 calories from fat burned.
- Many people also swear that this is a post exercise energy burn that occurs with HIIT that does not occur with the other methods of cardio. That could potentially burn more calories than accounted for earlier.
Okay, So What Cardio Is Most Effective?
I could get all scientific and analyise everything to death. But let me get straight and to the point. The most effective form of cardio is the cardio that you will perform consistently. Got that? I don’t care about you potentially burning a few extra calories from fat here or there because you did a different form of cardio. Fat loss is all about having a calorie deficit. If you have a calorie deficit, you will lose fat. It is simple. However, if you are strapped for time, the HIIT method will allow you to burn more calories in a shorter period of time.
If you want to get your calorie deficit by performing one type of cardio instead of the other, go for it. Just do whatever you will be consistent doing. CONSISTENCY TRUMPS EVERYTHING ELSE. I personally like to perform LISS cardio and the I’ll occasionally throw in a day or two of HIIT here and there just to spice things up. I don’t change it up because I think there is some magical power in one method of cardio v. the other. That simply isn’t true, don’t buy into the hype of anybody that tells you otherwise. I am currently in the off season bulking for my next contest, the NPC Las Vegas Classic in November 2013. I am performing occasional LISS, and that’s it. I am contemplating performing no cardio when I begin cutting for my next contest. We’ll see how I progress. So tell me, what is your favorite form of cardio? Comment in the box below.