In our busy lives, going to the gym every day may feel like a drag sometimes, right? But we cannot negotiate when it comes to our health. Here what we can do is switch to a home-based workout program that can save us the trouble of going to the gym but is equally beneficial. That’s where cardio workout comes in.
Cardiovascular exercises commonly known as cardio exercise is a great way to lose weight and stay lean. The best part about cardio exercises is that it doesn’t require much fancy equipment or space. From your home or in the streets or even in the gym, you can perform cardio workout exercises anywhere.
Cardio exercises are so convenient that if you are aiming for a great amount of weight loss without spending much money, it’s a great option. From keeping a lean body to opting for a great weight loss or even muscle building, you can get anywhere with cardio.
That’s why we have asked some cardio experts and gathered everything that you need to know about cardio for weight loss. So, let’s get started.
What is Cardio Workout?
Cardio exercises are simply aerobic activities that increase your heart rate. These workouts target a heart rate zone that burns most of your calories and unhealthy fats. Performing cardio exercises for 150 minutes every week is proven to reduce health risks to a great level.
Even keeping your heart rate to a moderate rate for even 10 mins regularly is counted as cardio activity. Generally, heart rate is measured at 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate. But performing cardio regularly will increase it to 80% of your maximum heart rate,
Some of the most common types of cardio workout exercises are running, fast walking, swimming, cycling, and rope skipping and so on. Even gyms provide a variety of workout machines for cardio like stationary cycles, treadmills, stepping machines, elliptical trainer and many more.
But keep in mind that the workout is primarily done for building strengths are not considered as cardio. Because they don’t tend to increase your heart rate.
Why Do Cardio Workout?
As we are talking about cardio exercises, the question may arise to you why opt to cardio and what are cardio workout benefits. Well, first of all, cardio exercises don’t require that many fancy types of equipment so you don’t need to spend any money on expensive equipment. These can be performed in-home or any open space. So you can save the trouble of going to the gym and you can save your money.
Besides cardio workout benefits are so great to health that it can reduce health risks to a great level. Let’s take a look at how cardio exercises contributes to our health-
- Cardio exercise is a great way to burn fats and lose weight.
- It can reduce the appearance of cellulite in your body.
- Cardio workout exercises increase blood flow by delivering more oxygen in the cells.
- It decreases blood pressure and the resting heart rate. This way, your heart becomes stronger and it doesn’t need to work as hard as before.
- Cardio helps in improving HDL cholesterol, which is known to be good cholesterol and reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
- It releases endorphins in the blood-stream that refreshes our mind and releases stress.
- It makes your memory sharper and improves your thinking ability.
- It helps to rest well by relaxing your body and mind and lets you have better sleep. It also prevents insomnia.
- Cardio exercises also help in releasing the toxins from your body through sweats and has proven to improve skin conditions.
- Doing cardio exercises for at least 30 minutes daily will increase your heart rate to 80% so you can have a healthier body.
Here are few more resources to understand why we should do cardio Workouts:
Choosing Your Cardio Workout
Now you know what cardio exercise is and how beneficial it is. If you want to opt for cardio exercise, the first step is to choose your cardio workout plan wisely.
The best thing about the cardio workout plan is here you can have great flexibility of choice. You can choose almost any kind of workout providing it increases your heart rate to a certain level.
First think about where you would like to do your cardio exercises, what you have access to and what you like. If you like to do workouts indoors, rope skipping is a great choice. If you want to do it outside, you can go running, cycling, swimming and much more. If you prefer a gym, then go for treadmills, elliptical trainers or stationary bikes. If you want to keep it very basic, you can just choose walking as it doesn’t require any kind of equipment.
Here are some tips for you so that you can choose ‘your’ perfect cardio workout.
Do What You Enjoy:
The biggest mistake we make while choosing a cardio exercise is that we tend to choose boring workouts that we don’t enjoy. Instead, we keep on doing the workouts more like a punishment. If you don’t enjoy what you do, it will be hard for you every day to continue doing it.
If you don’t like gyms, then don’t force yourself to go. Instead, do cardio like rope skipping at home. If you love the idea of working outside in the fresh here, go for cycling or running. If you choose workouts that you enjoy, you will see it become an inseparable part of your life.
See What You Have Access to:
Choose your workouts based on what you have access to. In this way, you won’t have to spend any extra money and won’t create any hassle. If you have a cycle, go cycling. If you have a treadmill, use it. If you don’t have any equipment, go for brisk walking, running and so on.
Keep Your Cardio Workout Plans Simple:
Keeping your workout plan simple is extremely important when you are a beginner. First, start with simple workouts. Too many difficult workouts may kill your will to perform cardio regularly. Once you have got used to the idea of doing cardio regularly, then go for difficult workout Cardio Workout Plans.
Go Easy on Yourself:
If you are a beginner, you must start with the basics first. Try doing fewer sets of workouts first. Let your body get used to with it. Then increase the number of sets and difficulties. Remember to never force yourself beyond your limit because that will only harm your body.
Now that you know what to prioritize while choosing your cardio exercises, you have to decide which cardio workouts you are going to take. Cardio exercises give you a variety of options. Depending on your place, your accessed equipment, necessities there are different type of cardio exercises.
What Are The Most Effective Non-Equipment Cardio Workouts?
Here are some non-equipment cardio workouts but effective that you can do anywhere to get the best weight loss result.
Walking is definitely one of the most known cardio workout exercises. This is one of the easiest cardio that you can do frequently without any equipment. Go to the park or take a walk to the shopping mall. Wherever you go, try brisk walking. Walking for 30 minutes every day has proven to burn up to 200 calories. Even, walking cardio can release period pain to such a great level that it’s considered the best cardio workout for women.
If you don’t feel like going outside, you can even jog in one place indoor. Stationary walking cardio workout or jogging is a great way to warm-up before any workout. You can also combine it with some other cardio exercises to maximize your weight loss.
· Stair Climbing:
Stair climbing is a great cardio workout at home if you want an intense weight loss. It’s way more effective than walking. Because when you are climbing the stairs, you are lifting your body against gravitational pressure. Besides, when you are climbing stairs you are getting your legs involved that use a significant amount of muscles. Climbing stairs can burn up to 600 calories in an 80 kg weighed man at a standard pace. That’s why it’s an excellent choice if you want to lose weight or build leg muscles.
To have the most out of stair climbing, try engaging your body to 90% effort. Put your maximum effort in climbing with a one to two minutes intervals. Performing 10 rounds of climbing each day will maximize your metabolism and result in a great weight loss.
But keep in mind that climbing stairs put a lot of pressure on the joints. That’s why if you have knee issues, you should avoid it.
· Jumping Jacks:
Jumping jack is a high-intensity cardio that doesn’t require any skill or equipment. You have to jump repeatedly keeping your feet wide and your arms making a half-circle above your head and return to the normal state again. Doing the jumping jacks properly will burn up to 100 calories only in 10 minutes.
You can do jumping jacks solo or you can combine it with other workouts. To get the maximum result, repeat jumping jacks for 60 seconds. Then do some other cardio such as running, stair climbing and so on. Then again repeat the jumping jacks. This way, it won’t bore you out and you will get the most effective result.
Burpee is what you can call a killer exercise. It’s a great fat burning cardio workout. They are comparatively difficult than other cardio exercises. But when you get the hang it, you can get the best weight loss from it in a very few minutes.
First, you need to lay flat on the floor keeping your legs straight. Keep your palms outside your shoulder. Then push yourself up as you do in push-ups. As you push your body up, tuck your feet under your body and jump immediately. As you jump you need to touch your both hands above your hands. Immediately after landing on the floor you have to get back to the first position. Keep repeating it.
Burpee consists of jumping, squatting and planks in one exercise. It combines power, strength and whole-body movement. That’s why burpees can burn up to 100 calories only in 10 minutes. It’s the best cardio workout for men if they want to strengthen their whole body.
As burpee is an intense cardio workout at home, you can do it solo and get amazing results. If you want to make a cardio workout routine you can even combine it with other exercises.
· Squat Jumping:
Squat jumping is an easy cardio exercise that doesn’t require any extra skill. It’s also another great fat burning cardio workout. To do it, first stand straight. Then get yourself in a squat position. Then you have to jump using your whole feet. And land as swiftly as possible to a squat position to complete one rep. Then repeat it.
Squat jumping will strengthen your whole lower body. Besides, it will increase your heart rate for some time. Try keeping squat jumping in your workout routine for 30 to 60 seconds. It will improve your body balance as the landing needs to be very soft and quiet. It will also deepen your breath and raise your heart rate. At the same time, you will be able to lose weight to a great extent. Squat jumping is also a great option if you want to build up your leg strength.
· Mountain Climber:
As the name suggests, mountain climbing cardio is similar to climbing a mountain. Imagine how much weight you will shred if you climb a mountain. That was the idea behind this cardio.
In this workout, your imaginary mountain is your floor. You have to be in a plank position. Then bring your both knee towards your chest, one at a time. While doing so, keep your back as straight as possible. As you are bringing your knees back and forth, speed up as if you are running against your floor.
Mountain climber doesn’t require any additional equipment. So you can just perform it anywhere. This workout will engage your core muscles and build up your strength. At the same time, it will increase your heartbeat. If done regularly, you will notice a great amount of weight loss throughout the process.
· Bear Crawling:
Bear crawling is quite similar to baby crawls. But in bear crawling, you have to bear your weight on your hands rather than your knees. You have to start on your arms and legs and be in a baby crawl position. Make sure that your knee is at a 90-degree angle and an inch above the ground. Keep your back as straight and possible. Place your hands at your shoulder-width apart. Then you have to move your one arm and its opposite leg forward, keeping an equal distance. Then switch to the other arm and its opposite leg and crawl in the same way. Like this, keep alternating sides and crawling.
It’s a very effective cardio exercise that increases your heart rate. It also strengthens your core, quads, and shoulders. It also helps in focus breathing. If you want to shred some extra pounds, you can take it to an advanced level. Speed up or crawl backward or in a circle or even in sideways.
If you have weak wrists then you can make a fist with your hand instead of placing your palms on the floor. It will reduce the strain on your wrist.
What Are The Highly Effective Cardio Workouts with Equipment?
The fact about workout equipment is, you can lose a great amount of weight in a short time if you use an equipment. The most effective cardio workout with equipment will help you burn calories faster than non-equipment workouts.
So, let’s take a look at some highly effective cardio exercises that require equipment.
· Rope Skipping:
Rope skipping is a very popular cardio exercise. It’s so popular because skipping ropes are very inexpensive and travel-friendly. It doesn’t require much space and can be done anywhere whether it’s indoor, outdoor or even in the gym.
It’s a very simple exercise that doesn’t require any additional skills. You just have to keep turning the skipping rope while jumping over it. But always keep in mind that you have to turn the rope using wrists not your arms. Jump only as high as you need to clear the rope and land very swiftly.
Rope skipping is very simple yet very effective. If done in properly, rope skipping can burn around 200 calories only in 20 minutes.
If you own a cycle, you can opt for cycling as a cardio exercise. Cycling is a low impact cardio workout that is highly effective for weight loss. If you prefer to workout indoors, you can choose stationary bikes. Stationary bikes allow you to adjust the gear to change the resistance according to your will. This cardio can be even performed in periods which makes it a great cardio workout for women. We have attached an infographic on indoor cycling or the courtesy of UPMC Health.
Cycling is so effective for weight loss that cycling for 45 minutes can burn up to 600 calories at a time. You can try stationary cycling in your workout intervals to maximize your weight loss.
Rowing is a great workout if you want to engage both your upper and lower body in a low-stress manner. It’s a combined low impact cardio workout. In rowing machines, you have to use your upper body and lower body simultaneously for successful rowing. That’s why it will work on your core, shoulders, arms, and legs at the same time.
Using the rowing machine in the gym for 1 hour straight can burn up to 600 calories while raising your heart. Remember to keep your chest up while rowing and try using your arms and legs both. If you want to maximize your weight loss, try rowing as fast as you can for a set time with intervals.
For more details:
Effective Rowing For Faster Weight Loss
Cross Training Rowing Workouts
· Elliptical Training:
An elliptical machine is a special type of stationary machine where you can do the walking, running or stair climbing without wearing out the joints. Elliptical Cardio Workout is a great cardio exercise that minimizes the pressure on your knees and hips. It also a great low impact cardio workout that works on both your upper and lower body.
Elliptical cardio workout isn’t a great way to build muscles. But as it engages both your upper and lower body you get to lose weight to a great extent.
To know more details or tips:
Best Elliptical Trainer Review
Elliptical Workout for Beginners
· High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT):
High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT offers a well-rounded cardio workout routine with interval cardio workout. It is a combination of different exercises of different intensity. You can make your own HIIT routine with multiple body-weight cardio exercises like a burpee, squat jumping, mountain climbing, bear crawling with some equipment exercises like rope skipping, rowing and so on.
The best thing about HIIT is that it gives you the freedom to choose your cardio exercises. It lets you alternate between low-intensity to high-intensity cardio according to your choice. You can lose from 500 to 1500 calories in an hour from high-intensity interval training.
More details about HIIT can known on:
High Intensity Interval Training – HIIT
Starting your Cardio Workout Program
When you have decided on what kind of cardio you will do, it’s time to get started. The thing about cardio is, just doing it won’t give you the best result. You have to do some warming up before you start working out. Then you will have to set your duration, frequency, and intensity of your workout to get the best weight loss from it. Finally, you’ll have to finish it with cooling down so that your heart rates return to normal.
· Warming Up before Cardio
The best way to start your cardio workout exercises is to start with a warm-up. Warming up with a few dynamic stretching will get the blood flowing into your muscles and make your body ready for the upcoming workouts. The pre-workout warm-up routine will prevent you from getting any workout injuries and muscle pulls.
First, try out doing the cardio workouts in an easy manner. For example, if you are going to run, then start by walking at a standard pace for a few minutes. If you are aimed at more muscle-building cardio, then do some stretching that stretches out those muscles. Keep your warm-up routine between 5 to 10 minutes. Then you are good to start your cardio exercises.
Why should you warm up before Cardio Workout?
10 Warm Up Exercises Before Cardio
Two minute warm Up before cardio
· Duration of Cardio
How much you will benefit from your cardio workout program depends on how cleverly you can fix the duration of your cardio. Doing cardio for 20 to 60 minutes is preferred by most of the fitness experts. Because your body starts to burn your glycogen in this time and then starts to burn the body fat. But if you are a beginner you must start with 10 t0 20 minutes and let your body get used to it. Then you can increase your duration. This will make your body accept the change and have the best result. Doing 30 minute cardio workout every day will keep your body lean and shred off some extra fats.
How Long Should be your cardio?
How long should a cardio session last?
· Frequency of Cardio
Frequency is a very important factor if you want to achieve the best result from your cardio. The frequency of your cardio depends on your fitness, cardio workout routine, and your goals. If you just want to stay healthy without worrying about weight loss, 30 minute cardio workout every day should be enough. The minimum recommended time of cardio exercise is 150 minutes per day.
But if you are more fixated on losing weight, then you need to do more intense cardio. When doing intense cardio, it’s recommended to keep a resting day in between. On those resting days, you can just do low impact cardio such as walking, running and so on.
How Frequently Should Weightlifters Do Cardio?
· Intensity of Cardio
The best way to burn more calories from your cardio in a short time is by increasing the intensity. You have to keep in mind, the harder you work, the better result you will get. That’s why when you have gotten used to the cardio and worked on the posture, you can work on increasing the intensity.
There are 3 intensity levels, starting from low to high cardio workout.
o Low-intensity Cardio-
Low-intensity cardio workout involves working out at an intense of 50% of your maximum heart rate. This intensity is good for warming up and stretching. Besides, if you are a complete beginner, this is the intensity you should start with. Then you can increase it to more.
o Moderate Intensity Cardio-
This level of intensity involves working out at an intense of 50% to 70% of the maximum heart rate. This intensity level is recommended by most of the fitness experts.
o High-Intensity Cardio-
This is the maximum level of intensity in workouts. It involves 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. You should never suddenly jump to this high cardio workout intensity. You should work your way towards it, as it utilizes the maximum of your body energy.
· Finish your Cardio with a Cooling Down
When you are done with your cardio exercises at the targeted heart rate zone, you should finish it with cooling down. Do low-intensity cardio or just simple stretching for 5 minutes. In this way, your heart rate will come to the normal rate smoothly and your muscles will feel relaxed. Soon you will catch your normal breathing.
“Warming up and cooling down are good for your exercise performance — you’ll do better, faster, stronger — and for your heart since the increased work on the heart ‘steps up’ with exercise,” said Richard Stein, M.D., professor of cardiology in the Department of Medicine at New York University and co-director of Cardiology Consult Services.
Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?
How to Cool Down After Running and Racing
Cardio workout is so beneficial to the health that if it’s done properly, it will help you to lose weight to a great extent. It will not just loss weight but also help you to keep your heart and body healthy and free from diseases. So prepare your cardio routine, start with low-intensity ones, then work your way to high intensity and get the best out of your cardio, and be light and healthy!
We have tried to refer best and relevant resources for more detailed guidance and tips. Hope this help you to burn your extra fat to lead an active life.