Cardio. Does a guy really need to do this in order to burn fat? The short answer of such a question is… yes! Cardio burns a lot of fat and calories by itself. It also boosts your metabolic rate when combined with your regular training sessions, so you burn even more calories while training (and long after while you’re home and in some cases while you are in bed sleeping).
The longer more involved answer is still YES, followed by this detailed explanation:
Cardio is Essential to a Lean Body
Getting to the gym every day (or every other day) is a victory in itself. But if one of your goals is to become as lean as you can, then you may need to up your game to include a good diet (don’t worry, we’re not talking about fad diets), motivation (a good workout partner can make all the difference), and regular cardio work. You might be thinking to yourself, ‘great, now I need to be at the gym even longer to get the results I want.’ But that just isn’t the case. In fact, a very potent strategy is to incorporate cardio as soon as you hit the gym floor to ensure that you are in peak metabolic rate throughout the rest of your training session. Yeah, you heard that correctly. 10 to 20 minutes of cardio will enable you to burn more calories training than not doing cardio at all. So if you are worried about being at the gym longer, think of cardio as a shortcut to be in the gym less and actually get more out of that time. That’s a win-win.
And while you may burn the most fat and calories during a 30 to 45-minute cardio session, any amount of cardio will offer advantages, including greater heart strength, improved lung function, better circulation, and less stress. But if your end goal is to burn fat, you’re going to need to adjust your intensity level beyond your comfort level. We’re talking somewhere between 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. This kicks out some of the old standards, like walking and slow cycling. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t make this fun.
1. HIIT Method
HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, is scientific, flexible, quick, effective, and offers maximum fat burning over a 24 hour period. The way it works is you choose any of the below cardio options and do it for 2 minutes at 75 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. And then you change it up by blasting as hard as you can (90 percent of maximum) for just 30 seconds. When you return to the lower intensity for another 2 minutes it will actually feel as if you are resting. You continue this cycle again and again until you have reached your set time limit. The science behind this is when you maintain a constant level of high intensity, the body adapts and adjusts itself, which is a kind way of saying that it makes it less effective at burning fat. Your body is trying to hold onto that fat. It has no idea that you already have too much, and you have to trick it in order to burn more. The constant switching of intensity levels will also help to keep you engaged in the work, rather than zoning out watching television. As an added bonus, HIIT can help suppress insulin levels.
2. Jump Rope
In one of our favorite Men’s Health Boxes, we received an XD aluminum jump rope and that is where our love affair with this childhood activity was renewed. Jumping rope takes concentration, focus, balance, and technique. And within those mind games, you will also succeed in burning an amazing 1000 calories per hour. That’s 333 per 20 minutes. It also works to add definition in your arms, shoulders, and calves. Jumping rope is one of the best all-around fat burners and it will cost you next to nothing to purchase everything you will need to get started. This is one of the more ‘high impact’ cardio options, so if you are nursing some sore joints, you may opt for one of the other options below.
When I was a kid, swimming wasn’t a workout, it was a fun Saturday afternoon. And it can still feel that way as an adult. If you don’t like the freestyle stroke, you can use any stroke you like as long as you keep moving. Swimming has the potential to burn up to 600 calories per hour (200 per 20 minutes), and it will work all the major muscles in the process, which is a great warm-up before your training session. Who says that cardio has to be done in a sweaty room on a machine in line with a bunch of other machines – because it doesn’t have to be that way.
Okay, so getting wet is not for everyone. In that case, let’s get you set up on top of the water – on a rowing machine. While most gyms have the rowing machines in some far distant, long forgot corner, this exercise is actually one of the best total body workouts available. You can burn up to 840 calories per hour (280 per 20 minutes), yet it is also as gentle on the body and joints as a leisurely stroll in the park. This will allow for you to go ‘all out’ at full intensity without injury. And it is actually a lot more fun than most of the machines you’ll find at the gym. Give it a try.
Cycling may not have the same potential as rowing and jumping rope, at 600 calories per hour, but it is one of the easiest ways to get in your cardio while also offering a good dose of practicality. If your gym is within biking distance, you can get to the gym, save gas, burn fat, warm up, and do all this within a span of 20 to 40 minutes. It doesn’t get any better than that. Cycling is also low impact but will chisel your quads with a fine tooth comb. It can be done outside the gym, inside the gym, or at home on a stationary version. Even if you say that you do not like cardio under any circumstance – a bike is probably your best bet and could become a real fat-burning game changer for you.
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