We asked our forum members what type of cardio works best when they want to melt fat. According to our fit fam, the best cardio isn't running—it's high intensity interval training (HIIT). Here are the top protocols from our community.

The Best Cardio Exercises for Fat Burning

All the winners agree that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the best way to lose fat. There are a lot of different ways to do HIIT. Here are their picks.

  1. Running: Whether on the track or the treadmill, sprinting is one of the toughest forms of cardio. Alternate sprinting with jogging or walking.
  2. Jumping: Jumping is an effective way to raise your heart rate, and it doesn't take much space or gear. Use a jump rope, or jump on and off a box or step.
  3. Swimming: If you tend to get hot working out, swimming is a great alternative. It also works your whole body and is low-impact.
  4. Cycling: You can get a great workout on either a stationary, recumbent, or "real" bicycle. Try hill repeats for your intervals: make the gear harder and stand up out of the saddle (just not on a recumbent).
  5. Elliptical Machine: Like swimming, the elliptical is another great form of low-impact cardio. It's easy on your joints, but it's a hard workout.

First Place: 30/30 Intervals by

What is the best cardio workout for burning fat?

For quite a while it was accepted that low-intensity cardio was the best for burning fat. According to studies this method burned calories primarily from fat. This has recently been disproved, as a new and exciting way to perform cardio has arisen.

The best cardio for burning off that stubborn fat will have you in the gym less time than you'd expect. This cardio is called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The concept is pretty simple: You transition from low or moderate intensity intervals to very high-intensity intervals.

If you judge by the readout on any given exercise machine, you might assume that going at a low intensity for 30-45 minutes would burn more calories than 15 minutes or less utilizing HIIT. This is not true, however, as many of the calories you burn from HIIT come after you leave the gym.

Only 15 minutes may seem too good to be true to lose weight, but it is not. However, you must keep in mind this is no walk in the park. This is very demanding, but extremely rewarding and time-saving. HIIT will support your metabolism so that you are burning calories later in the day. You will burn fat if calories out exceed calories in, and you will expend more calories by choosing HIIT.

HIIT can be performed on many different exercise machines, as well as outside or on the track. In all situations, make sure to warm up for about 3-5 minutes. Once you are ready to go, you will begin your intervals.

As a beginner, start with 30 seconds at a moderate pace, or approximately 50 percent maximum effort, then go as hard as you can for 30 seconds, and repeat both steps. If you're on an exercise machine other than the treadmill, make sure to rev up the intensity level so that it is challenging for you.

Complete a total of 5-8 intervals your first time. You will find it more difficult than it sounds. Once you are spent, take another 3-5 minutes to cool down. That's all you have to do. Only 5-8 minutes of actual working sets, and you are on your way to shedding some serious fat.

If not done on an exercise machine, you can still apply the same concept. Simply run, jump, swim, or anything you desire, at the intervals proposed above.

Second Place: 15 Minutes Of Pain by

What is the best cardio workout for burning fat?

The best cardio workout for burning fat is one of high intensity that gets the job done in as little time as possible. High intensity usually means that your cardio workout will involve working at about 75 percent or greater of your maximum heart rate.

A major benefit of high-intensity cardio is that you can burn more fat in a shorter amount of time and minimize catabolism that can result from too much cardio.

Another important aspect of creating the best cardio workout is ensuring that it does not become boring. Since you will be performing cardio for a much shorter period of time than if you were following a low-intensity protocol, the boredom factor should be significantly lessened.

In addition, you can eradicate boredom by using a variety of machines in your workout. For example, you can switch between the treadmill, elliptical machine, and recumbent or stationary bike during one cardio workout.

Your high-intensity interval workout should only be needs to be about 15-20 minutes, max. Brief high-intensity periods will be punctuated with moderate-intensity periods throughout the workout. Personally, I like to do rounds of 30 seconds of work, followed by 1 minute of rest.

Before you get intense, though, spend a minute or two getting warmed up by working at a low-intensity pace. Once you feel thoroughly warmed up you should increase the intensity of cardio to about 75 percent of your maximum heart rate for about 30 seconds before returning to a moderate pace for about a minute.

If you are using a treadmill, you will sprint for those 30 seconds. If you are on a cycling machine you will cycle vigorously during that time. You can adapt the way you increase intensity for whatever cardio exercise you choose. Whichever you choose, you will work at high-intensity levels for 30 seconds before returning to a slower pace for about a minute.

Take a few minutes before ending your workout to cool down. Just as you warmed up for a couple of minutes before increasing intensity, you should also spend a couple of minutes preparing to complete your workout. The cool-down is just as important as warming up as it helps to promote recovery and decrease soreness.

As for frequency, it is best to limit these intense cardio sessions to no more than 3-4 times per week. The majority of people seem to subscribe to the "more is better" philosophy of cardio and end up devoting 6-7 days to it. This is an excessive amount of cardio regardless of what intensity level it is performed at.

Third Place: The Cardio Finisher by

What is the best cardio workout for burning fat?

Many people think that you need to be in the "fat-burning zone" (70-80 percent max heart rate, or MHR) to shed that excess fat. But I am a firm believer that HIIT will help burn off the extra fat that covers any well-formed physique.

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. It is a very intense form of cardio that shortens up your time in the gym. Although training at 70-80 percent of your MHR maximizes the amount of fat burned during the workout, it may not be the best way to maximize total fat-loss. HIIT uses frequent alternating periods of high intensity (80-90 percent MHR) and low intensity (50-60 percent MHR) to let you recover for your next high-intensity interval.

Since HIIT is very intense, you will be working harder and will not need to spend as much time on cardio. This means that your HIIT workouts will only last 15-25 minutes, depending on how intense your high-intensity periods are.

Even though steady-state cardio for 60 minutes in the "fat-burning zone" burns more calories at the time, you will lose more fat doing HIIT. Why? High-intensity bouts keep your metabolism elevated at a higher rate and for a longer period after the exercise is over.

There has long been a debate over the most effective time to do cardio. Morning cardio is very effective at burning fat because you are in a fasted state. This means that you have not had any food yet, particularly carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate intake increases your levels of insulin, a potent anabolic hormone that will decrease fat-burning. However, fasted cardio can compromise your muscle tissue because your body will break it down for energy. This is why I recommend you take in 10-20 grams of whey protein or 6 grams of BCAAs before your morning cardio, to increase fat-burning and maintain muscle mass.

If you are lifting weight and doing cardio in the same day, lift before you do your cardio. It is also very important to have a good and consistent diet when you goal is fat-loss.

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