What’s the Best Cardio for Weight Loss and Fitness?

Updated on May 20, 2018
dwelburn profile image

David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.

HIIT is the best cardio for weight loss
HIIT is the best cardio for weight loss | Source

The Best Cardio For Weight Loss

If you want to get in shape and lose all that excess body fat, there are far better ways of doing it than going out jogging for an hour every day. And although jogging does have its benefits, you can accomplish much more in far less time by using the best cardio for weight loss – High Intensity Interval Training.

What Is High Intensity Interval Training?

Commonly referred to as HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training involves alternating short bursts of high intensity exercise with periods of much lower intensity effort. An example of this would be to sprint for 30 seconds and then walk or jog slowly for a minute. The jog allows you to recover somewhat before you do your next sprint. HIIT can however be done with many other exercises.

What’s So Special About HIIT?

The great benefit of HIIT is it’s very time efficient. HIIT burns fat faster than any other type of exercise, and what’s more you’ll continue to burn fat for hours after you have finished your workout. This effect is known as ‘afterburn’, or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), and it does not occur to any significant degree with lower intensity forms of exercise.

HIIT gets you fitter much faster too. High intensity intervals benefit not only your anaerobic system, but your aerobic capacity as well. In fact surprisingly it does this even better than ‘aerobic’ activities like jogging.

But apart from being the best cardio for weight loss and to improve your fitness, HIIT has other benefits too. HIIT increases your output of growth hormone, which has many tremendous health benefits, including helping to maintain youthfulness and vigor. And it also helps burn additional body fat too.

If you do HIIT regularly it will help normalize your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels. Your insulin sensitivity will also be improved, as will your cardiovascular health. This will greatly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

Apart from this, HIIT also enhances cognitive function, and the ‘feel good’ chemicals it releases in the brain will improve your mood and help to combat stress and depression.

An Example HIIT Workout

There are many ways you could approach a HIIT workout, but a typical example would be as follows:

  • Warm up with a light jog for 5 mins.
  • Sprint for 30 seconds
  • Jog slowly for 60 seconds
  • Repeat 4 - 8 times
  • Cool down with a slow jog for 2 - 3 mins.

Total time taken: 13 - 20 mins.

If you are just starting out however, and are not very fit, you could begin by simply alternating periods of brisk walking with slower walking. Then gradually increase the pace as your fitness improves.

Alternatively, if you are already quite fit, you can adjust the variables depending on what your own particular goals are.

For instance shorter, harder sprints will build more power, whereas longer sprints of a little lower intensity are better for endurance. Longer recovery periods enable you to put more effort into your sprints, which again builds more power, but shorter ones give increased cardiovascular benefits and improved fat burning. Or you could just vary the durations/intensity levels of each according to how you feel at the time.

An example of an advanced form of HIIT where you do 20 second sprints alternated with just 10 seconds of active rest is known as the Tabata Protocol. And the type of training that you vary according to how you feel is called Fartlek training.

There's just one downside to HIIT – it’s very demanding. So that means it's easy to overdo it. For this reason you should proceed with caution. You don’t need to push yourself to the absolute limit to get good results. In fact it’s been shown that 90% effort gives better results than 100% effort for sprints lasting 30 seconds or more.

Also, you should not do a HIIT workout more than three times per week; and in fact twice per week is probably better for the majority of people. If you do it too often it will have a catabolic effect, breaking down muscle tissue as well as fat; and that's probably not what you want.

What's your preferred method of losing weight?

See results

How To Get Even Better Fat Burning Results From Your Workout

Whilst HIIT burns fat much more effectively than lower intensity forms of exercise, low and moderate intensity steady state cardio does still have its benefits. And if you do 15 – 20 minutes of jogging after your sprints you will get an even greater fat burning effect.

The reason for this is that HIIT breaks down fat quickly and releases a lot of free fatty acids into the bloodstream, whereas jogging, whilst poor at releasing fatty acids, is very good for burning them off when they are in your bloodstream. So if you jog for a while after your HIIT you will burn off all the fatty acids that have been released. And on top of this it will help to continue the afterburn effect for longer too.

So if you want the very best cardio for weight loss, a routine that will burn off all your excess body fat and get you fit and lean in the fastest possible time is to do a HIIT workout and follow it with a short period of lower intensity cardio. Of course you should also eat a good well balanced diet, and ideally do some form of strength training too, if you want to get the very best results in terms of improved body composition as well as overall health and well-being. So do give this a go and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 David


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Birmingham, UK

      Thanks Rob; yes Tabata is great for the more advanced. Just 4 mins. but extremely intense.

    • Rob Winters profile image

      Rob Winters 

      8 years ago

      Excellent run down (:-))on HIIT.It really is a super way to exercise and really helps improve lung capacity too.

      For advanced/fit people tabata protocols which are an extreme form of HIIT are also a great option to throw in once or twice per week, particularly if your short on time.Up & Useful :-)

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Birmingham, UK

      Thanks; glad you liked it. Yes, you can do a little low intensity cardio on some other days too, as you could not do HIIT every day.

    • SolveMyMaze profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Hub! HIIT is a great way to lose weight. Although like you suggest, I would add in another 20 odd minutes of exercise to fulfil the BHF guidelines of at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, caloriebee.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)