My Experience with Using Different Aerobic Exercises and Cardio Workouts to Burn Fat and Get Ripped
Oct 1st, 2011
With the majority of Americans being overweight, it should come as no surprise that a high percentage of people who dedicate a portion of their time to exercise are doing so with the intention of burning off unsightly body fat.
It is well known that cardio workouts and aerobic exercises are the absolute best forms of training to quickly shed fat. However, with so many cardiovascular exercise options to choose from, it can be quite a task deciding which ones will ultimately be best for your personal training program.
In this posting I will explain my experiences in experimenting with different cardio and aerobic training exercises and techniques, provide some first-hand advice to help you choose a cardio program that is right for you, give you instructions for getting faster fat burning results from your cardio workouts, and also share with you some of the other health benefits of aerobic exercise I have discovered that you may not have been aware of.
For those of you who are new to the cardio training scene, I am going to start by giving a quick explanation of what aerobic exercise (also known as cardio) is…
What is Aerobic Exercise?
The textbook definition of aerobic exercise is essentially any activity that can be continuously performed for relatively long durations of time that will result in a sustained elevation in heart rate. Under the right conditions this sustained increase in heart rate will require a greater amount of energy than can be supplied by the sugar in the blood which will force your body to oxidize the body’s fat reserves in order to energize your aerobic workout. The best way to guarantee that your fat burning cardio workouts are maximizing your ability to burn fat is to maintain an intensity that keeps your heart rate within your target fat burning heart rate zone.
Since maintaining an elevated heart rate is the only requirement for cardio workouts, there are actually many types of good cardio workouts that burn fat effectively. I have tried several different types of aerobic exercise; a few that worked really well and others that I had to drop. I am now going to share with you some of the different types of cardio workouts I have used to give you an idea of their fat burning effectiveness and what you can expect with each aerobic workout option.
HIIT Cardio – High Intensity Interval Training Cardio
HIIT cardio workouts have become increasingly popular as of late with programs such as the Insanity System that uses high intensity cardio as its primary fat burning workout technique. As I explain in my fat burning heart rate posting, moderately high intensity workouts are the most effective at burning off unwanted body fat, which is exactly what HIIT provides. That being said, intense cardio workouts are not for everyone and are not all they are cracked up to be.
HIIT cardio is performed by doing short bursts of intense activity, such as sprinting, followed by a period of rest. This cycle is repeated for the entire duration of your cardio training session. The short bursts of activity should be performed at as close to 100% intensity as possible in order to elevate your heart rate to an extremely high level. As you can probably imagine, this can be physically demanding on your muscles and your heart.
I tried doing HIIT cardio by performing interval sprints on my treadmill at a full incline (and maximum speed) for a few weeks and can confirm that this type of cardio training is not for the feint of heart. I was doing 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 1-2 minutes of rest. After 30 minutes I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest and even felt nauseous after a couple of these high intensity cardio workouts.
While I did lose about a quarter of an inch of stomach fat after 2 weeks of doing five HIIT cardio workouts each week, I found this type of cardio training to be too intense to follow as part of a long-term cardio program as I began dreading my cardio workouts because I knew how I was going to feel after finishing them.
I decided to try a different cardio workout routine that wouldn’t leave me feeling so beat down after a relatively short 30 minute workout…
A Better Cardio Program Discovered
After doing some extensive research on the most effective ways to perform cardio, I discovered that the reason intense interval cardio training was so effective was because it provides the intensity required to raise the heart rate into the optimum fat burning heart rate zone and sustain that heart rate for a prolonged period of time – even during short intervals of rest.
When running track in high school, I used to continually monitor my heart rate while running and I knew that it didn’t require extreme intensity to significantly elevate someone’s heart rate. Since my research uncovered what my heart rate should be to most efficiently shed fat, I decided to experiment with moderate intensity treadmill cardio and elliptical cardio workouts to see if they would be adequate to raise my heart rate into the target fat burning zone.
I was relieved to discover that I didn’t have to kill myself with intense cardio to quickly shed fat. After about 5 minutes of jogging on a treadmill, or doing a low resistance elliptical workout, my heart rate was right where it needed to be – and it stayed there for the entirety of my 30 minute cardio workouts. The best part is that I didn’t feel utterly exhausted after finishing my workouts and actually didn’t mind doing cardio any more.
After two weeks of using this new cardiovascular training technique, I measured a three eighths of an inch decrease in my stomach fat, which was comparable to the results I achieved while using the HIIT cardio workouts that left me ready to fall over after each workout. As you can guess, I was pretty excited by what I had learned.
You can try this kind of moderate intensity cardio workout for yourself, but you will first need to know what your personal fat burning heart rate range should be for optimum fat loss results. To learn your exact optimum cardio heart rate range, click on the link below:
After a couple of years of commuting to my local gym to do my cardio workouts, I started to become annoyed with the 20 minute drive to the gym and hoping that one of the few elliptical machines or treadmills were unoccupied when I got there. I decided that I needed to try to find a way to do my cardio workouts at home to help alleviate some of my travel time and frustrations of sharing the cardio equipment at the gym. I started my home cardio workouts by doing what is supposed to be one of the best cardio workout dvds, but I quickly found out that working out to an instructor on video telling me what to do wasn’t for me.
I am the kind of person who likes to put my headphones in, turn up the volume as loud as it will go, and think about my cardio workout as little as possible.
I have always preferred elliptical workouts because they involve the entire body, which allows me to quickly elevate and sustain my heart rate in my target fat burning zone, without using a level of intensity that would be too physically taxing.
After a few weeks of prodding my wife, she finally gave in and allowed me to purchase an elliptical machine I had my eye on. I had tried several different models of home elliptical trainers and there was really only one that provided a level of comfort and stability that compared to the commercial model I had been using at the gym. If you have been thinking about purchasing a home elliptical machine, I highly recommend the E7 Elliptical from Body Solid. It is higher priced than most other residential models, but the additional quality and comfort is well worth the investment.
Here is a picture of my E7 elliptical machine in my basement turned home gym:
While it isn’t in most people’s budget to buy a complete home gym, it is much cheaper to invest in an elliptical machine, treadmill, cardio workout dvd, or any other method of performing cardio at home to make doing your cardio workouts much more convenient, comfortable, and time-effective. I absolutely love being able to throw on a pair of shorts and a sleeveless tee shirt and head downstairs to do my cardio workouts – it beats driving to the gym any day of the week!
Choosing the Best Cardio Workout for You
Fat burning cardio workouts do not have to be complicated. I can tell you from my own personal experience that, if you can maintain your fat burning heart rate zone for around 30 minutes, your cardio workouts will burn off significant amounts of fat over time – regardless of what cardio workouts you are using.
So, when it comes to choosing a cardio workout that is best for you, I have found that the most important factor in your decision should be choosing a workout or set of aerobic training workouts that you will most enjoy doing. If you try to force yourself through boring or uncomfortable cardio workouts, you will inevitably find it difficult to perform your cardio workouts with the kind of consistency required to shed noticeable amounts of body fat and you won’t get very far.
This is exactly what I experienced when using high intensity interval training for my daily cardiovascular exercise and is precisely the reason I don’t do it anymore. As long as you find an aerobic exercise (or even several types of aerobic exercises) that you like to do, you will have a much better chance of following through with your commitment to cardio which will greatly increase the liklihood that you will remain dedicated to your fat burning cardio workouts.
Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
The direct fat burning benefits of aerobic exercise is something that even those who have never exercised a day in their lives understand. However, my research and experience has uncovered several other benefits of aerobic exercise that you should be aware of.
Cardiovascular Exercise Increases Metabolism
Cardiovascular exercise is great for quickly burning calories while it is being performed. Another powerful benefit of cardio is that studies have shown that in the hours following cardio workouts the body is much less likely to store fat, and will naturally burn as many as 100 extra calories during the 24 hour period after an aerobic workout has been completed.
This boost in metabolism can have a huge impact over the course of several weeks and is a great example of why it is so important to try to fit in as many 30 minute cardio workouts as you can each week.
Improved Heart Health
The heart is a muscle, and just like the other muscles in the human body, it responds positively to certain stresses. Cardiovascular exercise is incredibly effective at strengthening your heart by making it work to send blood to the muscles in your body to provide them with the energy and nutrition they need while you are working out.
The main benefit of a healthy heart is the prevention of the number one killer in America – heart disease. There are a few other heart healthy benefits of regular aerobic exercise, but this benefit is one that can prolong your life and should alone be enough to motivate us to make time for cardio.
Stress has been linked to all kinds of health risks. High levels of stress can increase the risk of heart disease, reduce endocrine system function and has even been linked to the onset of cancer. There are also some short-term side effects caused by stress that we should all want to avoid. For instance, when I am feeling stressed, I get really irritable and even the slightest annoyance can make me angry or upset.
Moderate intensity cardio workouts reduce stress by promoting the release of endorphins, which are hormones produced by the body that regulate our mood and levels of stress, among other things.
Cardiovascular exercise has been essential in enabling me to maintain a low level of stress. I have an incredibly hectic schedule and it is easy for me to let my stress get the better of me. I experience a noticeable difference in the amount of stress I am carrying on days that I do cardio. Regular cardio workouts have been great for keeping my stress levels in check, which is the most tangible way that I have benefited from aerobic exercise – other than my low levels of body fat.
Final Word on Cardio Workouts
I have shared my experience with cardiovascular workouts and hope that you find it to be useful for you to better choose the right cardio program for you, and also motivate you to make a commitment to regular aerobic exercise.
Before I wrap up, I wanted to quickly mention the importance of nutrition when it comes to burning off unwanted fat. While cardio workouts are the best form of exercise for shedding fat, if you aren’t following an effective fat loss nutrition plan, your fat loss results will be minimal.
I wasted far too much time ignoring how I was feeding my body and I want you to avoid making the same mistake. Once I committed myself to a fat loss diet, I was able to quickly transform my body, and I want you to experience the same kind of success. Here is a website that will teach you exactly how to structure your diet for the fastest fat burning results possible:
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