Getting rid of body fat is one of the biggest motivating factors that drive people into the gym. Burning off fat and doing it in a timely fashion requires an intelligent approach to exercise, though.
Here are some sensible tips for getting the cardiovascular exercise you need to make the pounds melt away.
Adopt A Blended Approach
Cardiovascular exercise and strength training both have their disciples and preachers, but the simple truth is that you need both forms of exercise in order to burn off fat. Concentrating on cardio exclusively can deliver some disappointing results such as the dreaded “skinny-fat” look. You need to leave your exercise schedule with at least a little bit of strength training to reach your goals.
Strength training builds up muscle mass, but it also plays an important role in building your endurance. While it’s true that cardio helps strengthen your heart and lungs — that’s why it’s called cardiovascular exercise! — making your muscles strong allows you to operate at a much higher efficiency by reducing the overall energy demand of strenuous exercise.
Scheduling your cardio and strength training can sometimes be a challenge. If you intend to do both on the same day, it’s a good idea to do all or most of your strength training first. This depletes glycogen levels and encourages your body to burn fat. A more reasonable alternative is to alternate between strength training workouts and cardio workouts. Don’t assume that your muscles are getting the recovery time they need on cardio days, though; you still need some entirely “off” days to stay healthy.
Don’t Starve Yourself Prior To Cardio
One recent fad in the exercise world is “fasted” cardio. This involves jumping straight out of bed and into your running shoes to complete your cardio workout before eating anything. This is a bad idea, especially if you’re just getting started with weight loss.
While it’s true that your body will be hungry for glucose to burn when you exercise without eating, it’s as likely to eat up muscle tissue as fat if it’s not properly prepared. In order to actually derive benefits from fasted cardio, you need to be in a state of ketosis — a long-term strategy for advanced fitness that’s definitely not for beginners.
Don’t Jump Straight Into HIIT
Another big buzzword in the gym these days is High-Intensity Interval training or HIIT. HIIT is an exercise regimen designed to push your body very close to its failure point as rapidly as possible. HIIT workouts will involve maximum exertion interspersed with minimal down time. It’s obviously a big time-saver, and this may be one reason why it’s become so popular.
This is another strategy that’s not suitable for beginners. You need a fair degree of endurance and overall fitness to get through a proper HIIT routine without adverse effects. There’s even a significant chance of injuring yourself doing HIIT workouts if you don’t know what you’re doing. Start off with more moderate exercise routines, and don’t neglect that strength training!
Don’t Neglect Variety
Despite the previous caution against HIIT, you should incorporate some interval training principles into your cardio work. You don’t need to be sprinting during your high-intensity phases, but you should push yourself harder. A good strategy to adopt is to try and hit your peak relatively early in your workout and then taper off gently. During an hour-long workout, for instance, you’d use a gentle pace to warm up for the first 10 minutes, then push yourself hard for 20 minutes, then ease up (somewhat!) for your last 20 minutes.
Try to incorporate different forms of cardio into your workouts, too. Although it’s tempting to stick exclusively with the most pleasant form of cardio you can find, you’re not doing yourself any long-term favors by getting into a rut. If your body grows too accustomed to a single form of exercise it will get harder and harder to derive any meaningful benefits from it.
Don’t Forget Your Diet
Cardio exercise is a great way to burn off calories, but in order to eliminate body fat you need to bring your overall calorie expenditure up above your calorie intake. The most aggressive workout plan in the world isn’t going to help you achieve this calorie deficit if you’re eating too much. Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet, and keep your portion sizes small to minimize your calorie intake.
While you don’t have to adopt a zero-carb approach to burn off fat, cutting back on your carbohydrate intake is an excellent idea. If you make no other changes to your diet, this one will have the most dramatic impact on your fat-burning progress.
Getting rid of unwanted body fat isn’t easy, even for experienced athletes with tons of experience. Build a sensible plan that works and stick with it. It’s not possible to lose fat overnight, but planning your workout routines intelligently can definitely get the job done faster.
Well, that is it for today. If you are looking for an example of a great cardio workout that can be done at home without equipment then you can also check the video below.
All the best!