Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

By Rachel MacPhersonApril 13th 2021

Cardiovascular activity is usually the first thing people think of when they plan to lose weight with exercise. However, it’s essential to choose the right type of cardio exercise for your lifestyle and goals so that you will keep it up for the long term. 

Cardio is any exercise that increases your heart rate. There are many ways to do this, and each has its benefits and negatives. You don’t have to choose only one exercise type to meet your cardiovascular needs for weight loss. You can mix and match various types of cardio-based on your goals, the time you have available, and your personal preferences. (Read also: Can My Chiropractor Help Me Lose A Few Pounds?)

Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

HIIT Cardio Workouts 

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) are well known for their fat-blasting powers. With HIIIT, an effect called EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption) helps your body burn more calories even after you are finished exercising. This calorie boost happens because your body is trying to return to normal after intense exercise. The way to activate this effect is for your high-intensity intervals to be very challenging, resting in between before starting your next high-intensity interval.

Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

You can perform HIIT workouts on any type of cardio machine, such as a rower, treadmill performing sprints, or elliptical machine. Try starting out with 30 seconds of hard work followed by 60 seconds of rest and build up to 60 seconds of work with 30 seconds of rest.

Pros: The EPOC effect helps to burn more calories even after working out. You can burn more calories in a short amount of time compared to steady-state cardio.

Cons: Not necessarily a great choice for beginners as the higher intensity intervals may be too difficult for them. It is also unwise to do HIIT workouts on back-to-back days as they are very demanding on your body, and you should rest or do easier exercises on alternate days.


Tabata is a form of high-intensity training that comes with the same benefits. However, Tabata is typically performed with 20 seconds of work and only 10 seconds of rest. You can complete your work intervals with bodyweight exercises, light weights, or cardio machines. Tabata workouts are only supposed to last for 4 minutes. 

Ideal movements for Tabata are burpees, jumping lunges, jumping jacks, jump squats, skipping rope, high knees, and skaters.

Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

Pros: Much the same as traditional HIIT workouts, Tabata can ignite the EPOC effect. These workouts are also short and convenient and can be performed anywhere with only your bodyweight.

Cons: The claim is that they are highly effective for building stamina with athletes. While this is true, Tabata might not be a long enough workout to help burn the calories necessary for weight loss. Try combining Tabata with another form of exercise for the best results.

Steady-State Cardio

Steady-state cardio is what most people think of when they think of going for a run. It is an exercise that is performed at the same pace for the entire time. Steady-state cardio can boost the health of your heart and lungs and get your body used to working hard, preparing you to try some more intense workouts. (Our readers also like: How to Lose Weight In 12 Weeks )

Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

Ideal steady-state workouts include cycling, jogging, swimming, and walking at an incline.

Pros: Steady-state cardio is less taxing on the body and easier for beginners. You can perform some steady-state cardio every day without as much risk of overtraining or injury.

Cons: It can take a long time to burn enough calories for weight loss with steady-state cardio. It can also become monotonous over time and lead people to stop being motivated to complete their workouts. Also, performing too much steady-state cardio can decrease your muscle mass and metabolism as your body adjusts to the workload.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is two in one form of exercise where you will resistance train and get a cardio boost at the same time. To perform circuit training, perform exercises that work each muscle group, keep the rest times between sets short (30 to 60 seconds), and complete each exercise one after the other before beginning again. This will ensure that your heart rate stays elevated enough to boost cardiovascular endurance while also building muscle.

Building muscle helps with weight loss in a couple of ways. First, it sends specific hormonal signals that tell the body to use calories to build muscle instead of storing them as fat. Second, strength training builds muscle mass, and muscle burns more calories at rest than fat tissue does.

Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

An ideal circuit training workout would include exercises such as dumbbell squats, lunges, shoulder press, bench press, push-ups, rows, and hanging leg raises. The options are endless. Try performing each exercise one after the other, resting 30 seconds between each exercise. When you get to the end, rest for one to two minutes before completing the circuit again. Try to do two to three rounds.

Pros: If you lift weights at a heavy enough level, your heart rate will climb high enough for circuit training to cause an EPOC effect, burning off calories and boosting your metabolism through muscle gain.

Cons: Circuit training requires the use of equipment, and you need to be cautious of using the proper form. Sometimes when trying to work faster, form is sacrificed, which can lead to injury. Also, you will need to take rests between working each muscle group for 24-48 hours.

Which Type Of Cardio Workout Should I Choose?

There is no reason why you cannot try every type of cardio workout for weight loss. You can try one type per week or several each week, as long as you leave time for rest and recovery. If you are a beginner, try steady-state cardio combined with circuit training. If you are short on time, a HIIT or Tabata workout on alternate days combined with circuit training every other day is an excellent way to lose weight, boost your metabolism, and build muscle.

When it comes to losing weight, it’s essential to make sure that you are eating a well-balanced diet full of nutrients and lower in calories than what you are burning off through exercise. If you eat more than you burn, no amount of activity will result in weight loss. However, when you build muscle and burn calories through exercise, you can typically increase the amount of food you can eat and still lose weight. (Check out: How Losing Weight Affects Your Body and Brain )

Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

No matter what you choose to do, the best way to lose weight is to stay consistent. Choosing an activity that you enjoy and can keep doing for the long term will help ensure that you lose weight and keep it off for good.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for informational purposes only, and although Reshape.Me strives to keep the information up to date and correct, it does not replace the advice of a healthcare practitioner. Be sure to consult a licensed medical professional if you require personalized support that may affect your health. Any reliance on this information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

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