You probably heard it so many times, people told you that you need to do some cardio for weight loss...
Very few actually like aerobic activities. I am not one of those, I really don't like cardio.
But it works to burn excess fat, and here I am going to tell you why. Who knows, maybe I'll be inspired by my own words and start doing some!
Why Cardio for Weight Loss Works
Think of quads, glutes and hamstrings that are the biggest muscle groups in our body.
Exercises that involve big muscles have two main benefits:
- They allow you to build muscle faster, and boost testosterone production (think of compound exercises)
- They allow you to burn more calories
While the first one is quite obvious, for the second one let me give you a similar example that will help understand.
Imagine your body as a vehicle. And the muscles that you work out are the engine.
The bigger the engine, the more fuel you burn to get the vehicle moving, right?
Same way, the bigger the muscles, he more energy you have to spend, therefore, you got it: the more fat you burn.
This is the main reason why people do cardio for weight loss.
Which Cardio Exercises Work Best to Lose Weight?
Typical question that I received the other day.
I am at least 25 lbs overweight, and the diet that my doctor gave me doesn't seem to be working even though I've been on it for a month. That's why I started taking into consideration to do cardio for weight loss.
At this point I'd like to ask you a couple of questions.
- What is the best physical activity to speed up my metabolism and burn more calories?
- And since I am not that young any more and I don't want to take risks, what is the ideal heart rate during aerobic exercise?
First of all, in order to see the best results in terms of weight loss it is essential to associate physical activity to any diet you may be following.
But also exercising has to be done right. You should not set unfeasible goals and you should try to keep your workouts enjoyable. Make it fun, otherwise you are going to lose motivation sooner or later.
Best Cardio Exercises to Lose Weight
Now, to answer the first question about the best cardio for weight loss, let's keep in mind that it depends a lot on your health and shape.
Rule #1 is that no physical activity should be so intense to harm you. Imagine an older person that has never done exercise and suddenly decides to start sprinting...no good can come from that.
Preliminary check, step by step increase of intensity and caution are always recommended.
That being said here are the best exercises that involve cardio for weight loss:
The reason why the they are the best cardio for weight loss is that leg muscles are the main groups that work in these types of activities. As I said, when you work out big muscles you burn more energy and therefore more calories.
There are two factors that matter for physical activity to be effective:
- Frequency: you shouldn't train just occasionally, but rather daily or at least 3 times a week
- Duration: day by day try to increase the duration of your exercise, aiming to be able to keep going for 50 minutes
Ideal Heart Rate to Lose Fat
I've already written an article about the best heart rate to burn fat, so I'd like to invite you to read it. Essentially though, as I explain in that article, heart rate should be around 65-70% of your maximum heart rate.
That's where you target fat loss.
Below that you're just warming up, and above you improve endurance.
These exercises bring high oxygen into the muscles, improve circulation and metabolism, and allow you to burn more calories even after the training.
When you're done exercising, in fact, your metabolism doesn't immediately go back to normal. Your body takes a while, depending on the duration and intensity of the workout, to "calm down", get rid of lactic acid, repair the cells damaged by exercising.
The more intense you train, the longer the body takes to return metabolism to the normal state. That translate into being able to burn more calories even while resting after exercise.
What is the Best Time to Do Cardio for Weight Loss?
I've already talked about this topic, but here are the shortcuts.
The best time to do cardio for weight loss is in the morning.
Our body burns, in order:
- Protein (if you get to this point, you are basically losing muscles)
When you wake up in the morning, especially before breakfast, it's safe to assume that you don't have any sugars and carbs to burn (usually you burn them before bedtime and during the night).
The only sources of energy available are stored fat and muscles (which are left last, as our body is smart).
This is why in the morning before breakfast you should do cardio for weight loss, to maximize fat (and only fat) loss.
Another question I often receive goes something like this:
I hate doing cardio. Are there any other ways to lose fat?
Yes, actually, and this one is my favorite (as I don't like cardio either).
Build more muscle, start lifting weights, as I said in my other article that explains why gaining muscle is the best way to burn fat.
The main reason is the same of doing cardio to train big muscles. The more muscle you build, the more expensive it is to maintain (which means the more calories you burn).
In conclusion, weight loss happens when you burn more calories than you take in, whether you are active or not.
But you will be leaner, stronger and more fit if you include exercise in your weight loss plan.
Of course, if you wanna go that road, there is plenty to read on this site!
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