There are several good types of cardio training that one can use to burn fat, such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, and rowing. As a matter-of-fact, skipping rope is the best at burning calories at over 1,000 per hour.
However, there are some factors other than the type of activity to take into consideration that making burning fat more efficiently and are worthy of exploring – namely intensity and duration.
To burn fat requires a lot of oxygen as fat is converted into usable energy through a process called oxidation. So the goal is to get the heart rate and breathing up to a level that gives the body enough oxygen through intensity and to keep it there long enough for maximum fat burn through the duration.
A method used by several trainers is called HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training. At its core is an aerobic activity done at an alternating pace between a fast and moderate level. For example, usually, the ratio is 1:2 meaning the high intensity is half as long as the moderate intensity. This alternating cycle has to last long enough, and challenge the body enough, to get it to convert fat into energy – usually a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes, although as you get fitter can last from 30 minutes to an hour.
To keep from overworking the body, it is necessary to know your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age) and the percentages of that number at both the moderate and high intensity. At a moderate intensity, a target heart rate (THR) should be 55% to 75% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). So for a person age 55, their THR would be 165. Fifty-five percent to 75% of that number is 90 and 124 respectively. At high intensity, it jumps up to the 90% mark or 149. Most machines in gyms have heart rate monitors or you can buy and wear your own.
Using cycling as an example, a routine would be cycling at a THR of 75% for two minutes and then quickly increase the THR to 90% for 30 seconds to one minute. Then slow down to a THR of 75% again. Keep up the alternating pace for 30 minutes. In the beginning, it will be difficult, but as you gain endurance, you’ll find it easier to go longer in the low-intensity range than when you first started.
One advantage of the HIIT concept, besides the immediate burning of fat, is the after-burn or increased metabolism up to 24 hours after training. And as it takes three times the calories to sustain muscle as it does fat, you’ll end up burning more calories as you pack on muscle – even at rest.
Why Cardio Without Strength Training is a Mistake for Health & Weight Loss
The traditional mindset is cardio and aerobic exercises are the smartest and quickest path to weight loss for burning fat and losing weight. Well, maybe not exactly. Spending hours on cardio exercising without dedicating time to strength training is not a very efficient way to positively impact weight loss, healthy body weight management, and overall health. Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which both increases your metabolism and decreases fat. So the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn on a day-to-day basis.
Some fitness programs, such as kettlebell exercises, double as strength training and cardio at the same time. Incredibly, a study by the American Council on Exercise found that kettlebell exercises can burn "up to 20 calories a minute". This shows the extreme power of a combination of strength training and cardio to deliver incredible weight loss and health results.
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise, burn calories and fat during that exercise. After an intense cardio workout, you may enjoy calorie burning for 12 to 24 hours after you finish exercising. In most cases, however, a simple cardio workout stops burning calories shortly after you finish exercising. Cardio exercising sessions generally have to last at least 30 minutes, and often more than 1 hour, to make a significant calorie burning result.
Aerobic and cardio exercises can be very good for detoxing your body and burning fat and calories. However, if you want to reach a high-performance level of weight loss, sexy muscle building, and toning, as well as overall health and wellness, you can't ignore the power of strength training, either with free weights or bodyweight exercises.