There is no “Most Effective Cardio Exercise.” Just like how there is no best way to workout or no best martial art. It all depends on your goal and what you want to do. Still stuck? Let me help you a little.
Basically There Are Four Main Goals Which People Want Are:
- To have massive muscles and let nothing get in the way of letting you lose it but still maintaining a balance between cardio and weight lifting.
- To be well-rounded meaning being fit and still have muscle and strength.
- To be extremely fit in the cardio system which is your only goal, and you don’t care about gaining muscle (Distance running or marathon running).
- To lose weight.
Here are a few ways of doing each goal
1. Gaining Huge Muscle
HIIT combines the use of all out intervals and periods of lower intensity periods. Dont worry, if you are well fed and energized, these sessions last for only 30 minutes at the max, in that time you wont use up enough of your energy that you will have to tap into your muscle stores.
The Good Old Run
Run at most for 3 days a week for 30-45 minutes and you wont lose any muscle if your well fed and energized. Try running outside because on a treadmill, staring at a wall for 30+ minutes is kind of… It sucks.
2. To Be Well Rounded
I would not recommend high intensity interval training (HIIT) because if you want to be quite fit in the cardio system, HIIT doesn’t cut it, sorry boys and girls.
Doing cardio 4-5 times a week for 45-60 minutes will make you have great cardio gains. Your endurance will be quite noticeable and you might lose a bit of muscle. But if you do weights, you will be stronger and bigger (Just don’t expect to be the next Ronnie Coleman).
Biking and skipping are also good ways of increasing cardio fitness. Biking works more on strength in your legs while skipping develops more quickness in the feet while utilizing more calve muscles.
Both are very good ways of improving fitness. Except for skipping, I recommend incorporating it in a running or biking schedule and shortening the time. Dont just skip 4-5 times a week.
3. To Be Extremely Fit
(Long Distance Running & Marathon Runners)
This isn’t for muscle gainers, over time you will lose a significant amount of muscle. It is more geared only towards long distance or marathon runners.
- You must run 5-7 times a week.
- Sessions range from 6 mile runs to 18 mile runs.
- The only exercise is running.
4. Fat Loss
High intensity interval training (HIIT). This is great for burning fat since you run at the fat burn level for the lower intensity periods and burn more calories in the high intensity levels.
Running, skipping and biking. These are great for losing weight. If you’re overweight, slowly work your way up. For fat loss, exercise at the fat burning zone. For beginners run 3-4 times a week for 20-30 minutes. Gradually work your way up to 4-5 times a week for 30-60 minutes.
Remember any type of cardio activity will burn fat. You just have to be consistent and you will shed the pounds. Many people give up because they aren’t seeing results, but really a month isn’t enough to see huge results.
So yea, don’t listen to the commercials where you can lose 60 pounds in a month. DON’T EVEN BELIEVE IN THAT CRAP. There are NO shortcuts, you can’t stick some piece of crap machine on your chest and get fit.
The only way is to follow a consistent and well planned exercise routine. Some people shed the pounds fast and others slow because everyone has different bodies
Another note here, try avoiding running on the treadmill. It is not natural running and in some people it could set them back. Also you have a chance of mentally burning out running on the treadmill. Staring at a wall in an enclosed environment can get very boring meaning you will burn out mentally and give up.
The “Optimal” Time Of Day For Cardio
From personal experience, there is no dead set time of day where cardiovascular exercise is performed. You should do cardio when they have the time. This is the case with the common HIIT type of cardio.
There are theories circulating around that performing a HIIT session in the early morning is universally beneficial for stimulating an elevated metabolism for the entire day.
Doing this will allow you to burn a greater “net” caloric number at the end of your day, whether you sit at a desk the rest of the day and do nothing or are on your feet.
Of course being on your feet the rest of the day will burn that many more calories than doing nothing, but the point is to elevate the metabolism.
Low intensity cardio is the “safe” route to cardio, as you greatly preserve glycogen stores and burn primarily from fat stores. This type of cardio is considered to be the “best” type to do in a fasted state (in the early morning) or depleted state (post workout).
Cardio & Weightlifting
This is a very controversial topic, and everyone has their own view on this, but personally I think that cardio is more than ok to do immediately following a workout. Now before you even begin to say “well wont I burn all my muscle etc, etc..” let me finish.
I said cardio is fine to do post workout, but the one thing I hold as most valuable is the intensity of that cardio session. I believe that performing 30-45 minutes of low intensity cardio, where you keep your heart rate at 65-75% of your max heart rate*, is a great way to burn fat and spare muscle tissue, even when totally depleted from training.
As I mentioned earlier, this is greatly possible because Low Intensity cardio burns primarily FFA’s for fuel and not glucose. Save the HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) for another day, or separate your session at least 6 hours from your training session.
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) (crystalswholehealth.wordpress.com)
- The EXPLOSION Workout (shareitfitness.com)
- H.I.I.T Workouts (veggieeuphoria.com)
- High Intensity Intervals are Far Superior to Endurance Cardio (projectswole.com)
- Burn More Body Fat and Ab Fat with Speed Intervals (rapidfatlossandsixpackabs.com)