If you’re new to exploring exercise for weight loss, it can be difficult to know where to start. There’s weight training, yoga, pilates, barre and more. But many personal trainers believe in heart simple weight loss. (However, studies show that a well-rounded weight loss program includes both cardio and strength training.)
Meet the Experts: Tim Landicho, CSCS, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Tonal Fitness Coach, and Denise Chakoian, CPT, Owner and Founder of CORE Cycle.Fitness.Lagree.
Cardio is basically movement that gets your heart rate up and keeps it there throughout the workout, explains Tim Landicho, CSCS, NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and Tonal fitness coach. The goal is to engage large muscle groups in rhythmic, repetitive movements, which in turn increases your heart rate and breathing, he adds.
The basic formula for weight loss is to burn more calories than you expend (though that’s not always that easy), Landicho says, and cardio leads to that by burning calories long after you’ve stopped sweating through a process called post-exercise hypercapnia. (EPOC), he adds. According to the National Sports Medicine Association, EPOC is characterized by increased oxygen intake and metabolism that occurs while the body is recovering from exercise.
Cardio is good for weight loss because it reduces the body’s ability to hold on to calories and fat, adds Denise Chakoian, CPT, owner and founder of CORE Cycle.Fitness.Lagree.
The best cardio exercises for weight loss
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all guideline for weight loss, because every body and metabolism is different. However, the CDC and the experts we spoke to can provide some good starting points to keep your movement efficient and interesting.
According to Chakoian, it takes 20 minutes of cardio to get into fat-burning mode for most bodies, so he recommends 30 to 45 minutes per workout, regardless of the exercise you choose.
Both Chakoian and Landicho recommend going for a run to get in shape. The CDC considers vigorous aerobic exercise to meet your optimal health requirements with 75 minutes of weekly jogging in the range.
Whether it’s an hour of spinning class or cycling to work instead of the train, both count as cycling towards your cardio goals. Depending on the terrain, the CDC considers it moderate to vigorous exercise.
Landicho recommends jumping into lunges whenever your workout needs a heart-pumping boost. Try three sets of 30 seconds of movement, resting 45 seconds between each.
Using a rowing machine is one of the most effective ways to get cardio and strength training in a short amount of time, Hydrow athlete and triathlete Nick Karwoski previously shared. Prevention. Some machine-specific exercises are up to 15 minutes long.
Never underestimate a brisk walk. The CDC recommends walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Jumping rope is a high-intensity form of cardio that works your entire body, making it a powerful and effective workout. If you jump rope at any speed for 30 seconds, you will start to feel it, Albert MathenyRD, CSCS, co-founder SoHo Strength Lab, Promix Nutritionand ARENA previously told Prevention. There is a lot of coordination between different muscle groups. Like running, the CDC considers jumping rope high-intensity cardio, so a 75-minute weekly sesh is a good starting point.
Suitcase march or high knees
Stand tall and engage your core, driving one knee up to your chest, then alternate ending in high knees, Landicho explains. The marching pose keeps the body tall and resists the weight pulling you to the side, he adds. Not only does this fulfill your cardio duty, but it challenges your body’s ability to withstand the load on one side as you balance on one leg and then switch to the other, strengthening your obliques and glutes.
Lie on your back with your legs in a table position and your arms stretched straight across your chest, says Landicho. As you stretch your legs out and extend your arms above your head, support your body in a hollow position. Steering, bring your knees to your chest and pull your arms out to your sides, bringing your shoulder into a crunch position. This move is a good mix of cardio and strength training and targets the core, which is often the main focus of weight loss programs.
Landicho says a good freestyle dance is her favorite form of cardio. You can participate in kitchen karaoke or attend a more formal cardio dance class.
Swimming offers all the heart-pumping benefits of other cardio without the pavement-pounding wear and tear that some involve. If you’re overweight and struggling with joint pain, it’s a great option for a gentle but effective workout, according to the Cleveland Clinic. According to the CDC, a 154-pound person who swims a slow freestyle lap for 30 minutes burns 255 calories.
In addition to potential weight loss, cardio is key to maintaining good heart and lung health, Landicho says, and the American Heart Association confirms this. It also boosts mood, relieves stress and is full of endorphins, making it a key part of a healthy lifestyle, he adds.
Kayla Blanton is a freelance writer-editor who covers health, nutrition and lifestyle topics for various publications including Prevention, Everyday Health, SELF, People, and more. She is always open to conversations about adding flavorful foods, breaking beauty standards, and finding new, gentle ways to take care of our bodies. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University with a concentration in women, gender and sexuality and public health, and is a born-and-raised Midwesterner who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two spoiled kitties.
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