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15 Fat Burning Cardio Workouts

As a certified Charleston personal trainer I often get asked to provide workout examples for cardio routines that can help with fat loss. Truth be told, ALL cardio workouts are good for fat loss. I also recommend getting a flex belt from http://livetofitness.com this will help tighten your stomach even more while you workout.

While I spend a lot of time promoting burst and interval training routines, there’s a lot of benefit in lower intensity aerobic exercise as well.

The secret if there is one with the best type of cardio for fat loss is mixing up the routines so you’re working all the energy systems. Doing the same routine over and over is only a recipe for diminished results or over-training at worst.

Having said all of that, I thought it would be beneficial to write a post spotlighting 15 different examples of ways you could do cardio workouts for fat loss. The beauty is you don’t have to keep doing the same old boring routines on a treadmill or other cardio equipment.

Mix up your workouts and have fun with it! The more enjoyable you make your workouts, the greater the chances you’ll stick with it.

#1  Sprint 8 Interval Training

Description
Sprint 8 Intervals originated by fat loss and fitness expert Phil Campbell are one of my favorite treadmill routines. The Sprint 8 program is built into Vision Fitness treadmills which is one of the reasons I use them in my Charleston personal training studio. You don’t have to own a Vision treadmill to do Sprint 8 Intervals though.

The concept is to do eight high intensity intervals of 30 seconds each followed by 1:30 of rest. The 30 second intervals are to be completed at 85% of max heart rate or greater. The short duration, high intensity bursts are an excellent way to boost growth hormone levels and maximize the fat burning effects of your workouts.

The intervals can be completed on most any piece of cardio equipment including treadmills, elliptical trainers, and rowing machines. The idea is to get yourself out of breath with a short burst of high intensity exercise then follow it with a brief recovery period of low intensity work.

On a treadmill this can be done manually by changing the speed and incline. You’ll in essence be doing a walk, sprint, walk, sprint circuit for a total of eight times. The workout will take approximately 30 minutes including warm-up and cool down.

 

Equipment
Treadmill, elliptical trainer, rowing machine, etc.

 

Duration
Approximately 30 minutes

#2  Stair Runs

Description
Stair runs are another excellent way to do burst training. The idea is to run up a stairwell or stadium steps then walk back down. The runs will take anywhere between 10-30 seconds each with approximately twice the time of the interval for recovery on the walk back down. Stair runs are an excellent way to build cardiovascular stamina and endurance along with building total body strength.

They’re also an excellent fat burning workout due to the short bursts of high intensity exercise. Stair runs are one of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling. Most hotels have stairwells that rarely get used.

I won’t waste my time in a less than adequate fitness center when I can get a great workout in the hotel stairwell. This works best when the hotel has a minimum of 5 floors. I will only typically run 10 flights even if the hotel has more floors.

That is about the maximum you can do to stay within the burst principals of 10-30 seconds of high intensity effort. I will look to do about 8 total circuits of running up and walking down.

Equipment
None required

Duration
Approximately 15-20 minutes

#3  Rowing Intervals

Description
Rowing is probably one of the best total body exercises you can do. Add the high intensity principals of intervals and you’ll get one of the best cardio workouts you can do. The idea is the same as intervals on a treadmill or other cardio equipment.

You’re going to go hard for 30 seconds then slow back down to a slow pace for :30 to 1:30 of recovery. Intervals on a rower will really work you!

Get ready for an intense workout if you plan on doing rowing intervals. I recommend a total of 8 intervals during your workout. Make sure to include 2-3 minutes of warm-up and 2-3 minutes of cool-down time during this workout.

Equipment
Rowing machine

Duration
Approximately 30 minutes

#4  Track Intervals

Description
Track intervals are very similar to interval training done on cardio equipment. The difference is you have the benefit of being outside for this workout. I highly recommend you get outside when you can to do your cardio training. Not only will this reduce the boredom factor but you’ll also be able to get out and breathe in some fresh air.

There are many ways to do track intervals but my favorite is to run the curves and walk the straight-a-ways. Look to do a 5-10 minute warm-up routine of dynamic stretching and some light jogging (do a couple of laps) before starting this routine.

You don’t want to go into sprints cold as you’ll increase the likelihood of pulling a hamstring or suffering some other sort of injury. I recommend you do a total of 8 laps where you sprint the curves and walk the straight-a-ways.

Equipment
None required

Duration
Approximately 30 minutes

#5  Suicide Runs

 

Description
Suicide runs are completed on a basketball court and go as follows: You start at the end of the court and run to the foul line, reach down to touch the line, then return to the start position. You’ll immediately turn back and run to the top of the key (the 3 point line) next, touch the line, then return to the start.

Repeat this same process next to the half court line, then to the 3 point line at the other end, the foul line, and finally the end line under the other basket. If you’ve played basketball in middle school or high school chances are you’ve done these runs before.

They’re great for conditioning and really work. I recommend you do anywhere between 8-10 circuits resting for 1:30 between each run. Perform a warm-up period of 5-10 minutes including some dynamic stretching and light jogging or stair runs. Cool down by walking up and down the court 3-4 times when finished.

Equipment
None required

Duration
Approximately 30 minutes

#6  Heavy Bag- Jump Rope

Description
The heavy bag- jump rope workout is great way to get in some total body conditioning. There are few exercises that will build strength, stamina, and endurance better. The workout goes like this…You’ll work a heavy bag with a variety of punch combinations giving it all you got for 30 seconds.

When finished you’ll immediately go over and pick up a jump rope and complete for another 30 seconds. This in essence is one round. You’ll walk the floor for one minute in between rounds for recovery. I recommend you complete anywhere between 8-12 rounds.

Get ready for this workout as it will definitely get you out of breath and leave you feeling spent when you’re done.

Equipment
Heavy bag, gloves, and jump rope

Duration
Approximately 20-30 minutes

#7  Cross Training (Treadmill-Elliptical-Stationary Bike)

Description
Cross-Training can mean a lot of different things (combining various forms of exercise) but for this example I’m speaking about a cross-training routine you can do in the gym. Here’s a great way to mix it up that will keep you from getting bored while at the same time provide you with fat burning benefits.

The cross-training workout I’m speaking of is combining a treadmill, elliptical machine, and stationary bike. Each machine will provide a different stimulus and work your body differently.

Here’s what I recommend. Start on one machine warm up for 3 minutes at a low intensity. Next pick up the pace and go at a moderate-high intensity for the next 7 minutes. Once you reach the 10 minute mark, switch machines and repeat the process (3 minutes low intensity followed by 7 minutes moderate-high intensity). Do this for all three machines.

The workout itself will take approximately 30 minutes. Make sure to include a 2-3 minute cool down after your last circuit.

Equipment
Treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike

Duration
Approximately 30 minutes

#8  Hill Sprints

Description
Hill sprints are one of my all-time favorite ways to do cardio. I fell in love with hill sprints as a kid watching one of idols, football great Walter Payton, do these in his off-season workouts. I figured if he did them, they must be effective. And WOW are they ever!

You can build great leg strength along with getting in excellent conditioning with these workouts. Go find yourself a hill somewhere with a safe running surface (grass obviously works the best).

You’ll sprint up the hill and walk back down. Complete a 5-10 minute warm-up period of dynamic stretching and light jogging prior to completing the sprints. I recommend you do a total of 10-12 sprints depending on the size of the hill.

Here in Charleston, SC it’s hard to find good hills so you won’t be able to run but for 10-15 seconds in your sprint. That’s fine if you don’t have a long hill, just do more sprints. The steeper the hill the better though if you can find it as the incline will increase intensity. Perform a 3-5 minute cool-down by walking after you’re done with your sprints.

Equipment
None required (optional cleated shoes to improve traction)

Duration
Approximately 15-30 minutes

#9  Wall Ball

Description
Wall Ball is a killer total body workout that can be used as an alternative to boring machine routines. The idea behind Wall Ball is to take a heavy medicine ball, the heavier the better, but any one will do. You’ll need to have a brick, block, or concrete wall to do this exercise because you’re going to throw the ball off the wall. Here’s how it works.

You’ll take the medicine ball down with you into a squat and when you come up out of your squat you’ll thrust it into the air off the wall (as high as you can throw it) then catch it and return back into your next squat. You’ll want to do sets of 10-20 reps with rest-recovery periods of about the same length or slightly longer.

I recommend you do anywhere between 8-12 rounds of this exercise depending on how many reps you do in each set. The workout should take anywhere between 15-20 minutes but will still be high intensity and leave you totally spent. Give it a try, you’ll love it. I use this exercise as a staple with my Charleston personal training clients.

Equipment
Medicine Ball

Duration
Approximately 15-20 minutes

#10  Box Jumps

Description
Box jumps are traditionally used for plyometric exercises in sports performance training but they can also be used for cardio conditioning. I recommend the box height not exceed 24 inches regardless of your fitness level. You don’t want to have the box be so high that when you get fatigued you end up racking your shins onto the side of the box. Ouch!

I’ve done this before and trust me it’s no fun. Most plyo boxes come in 12”, 18”, and 24” heights. Pick a box that fits you by taking some practice jumps before starting. You shouldn’t have to go “all out” to reach the top of the box.

The idea here is to do successive jumps in a row for metabolic conditioning not develop your vertical leap. Once you choose the appropriate box height warm up with some dynamic stretching and light jogging on treadmill for 5 minutes.

You’ll want to do sets of 10 jumps each followed by a short rest period of 30 seconds. Look to complete 8 sets in your workout then cool-down with some walking on treadmill and/or static stretching for 5-10 minutes.

Equipment
Plyo box between 12-24” in height

Duration
Approximately 20-30 minutes

#11  Step/Bench Shuffles

Description
Using a low box or bench you’ll start with one foot on the platform and one foot on the ground. Pushing off the foot that is on the platform you’ll shuffle from side to side. Use your arms in a “running motion” to help drive the movement.

Each foot strike on the bench or step counts for 1 rep. Complete a total of 20 foot strikes for each set. Rest for 30 seconds between each set. Complete a total of 8 sets in your workout.

Once again warm up with some dynamic stretching and/or light jogging on a treadmill for 5-10 minutes and cool down with walking and static stretching. The idea is to transition from side to side quickly and perform the movement in a running motion.

This exercise will get your heart rate up in hurry and really works your anaerobic energy system. You can use a small plyo box, aerobic step or weight bench for this exercise.

Equipment
Small box, aerobic step, or weight bench

Duration
Approximately 20-30 minutes

#12  Scab Runs

Description
Scab runs are complete outside preferably on a lined football or soccer field. You’ll start in the end zone and run to the 10 yard line and back. When you reach the start line you can do either 10 push-ups or 10 sit-ups. Immediately get back up and run to the 20 yard line and repeat with either the 10 push-ups or 10 sit-ups.

You can switch from push-ups to sit-ups after each run or select just one movement, your choice. You’ll repeat this process to the 30 yard line, 40 yard line, and so forth until you get all the way down to the other end zone. This workout is designed to be completed with minimal rest between each run. You’ll find this to be one tough workout.

Don’t be surprised to find yourself flat on your back, totally spent, gazing up to the sky after you finish the workout. You’ll know that you did something when you get done. This workout is about as good as it gets for total body conditioning.

Warm up with some light jogging and/or dynamic stretching for 5-10 minutes. Cool down with some static stretching….that is if you still have anything left after the workout!

Equipment
None required

Duration
Approximately 15-20 minutes

#13  Swim Intervals

Description
Swim intervals nothing more than circuits in a pool doing short bursts of all out effort followed by brief recovery periods. The concept is the same as Sprint 8 training or other intervals. Your interval will vary depending on the length of the pool you’re in. You’ll want to go “all out” for 15-30 seconds so adjust your swim length accordingly.

Do a low-intensity movement during your recovery period like a back stroke or other movement that allows you to lower your heart rate. Recover for 1:00-1:30 then start your next interval. Complete a total of 8 intervals.

Warm up by completing some laps to prepare yourself for the high intensity intervals. Cool down by doing the same. Swimming is a great way to complete low-impact cardio conditioning and provides a nice alternative for individuals who have issues with their knees, back, feet, or ankles that would prevent them from running.

Equipment
None Required

Duration
Approximately 20-30 minutes

#14  Mountain Climbers- Jumping Jacks

Description
This combination workout includes two very effective body weight movements for cardio conditioning; mountain climbers and jumping jacks. These exercises have been around forever and they flat out work. The beauty of this workout is in the simplicity. You can do it anywhere, anytime, with no equipment required.

This is favorite workout of mine when I’m traveling and find I don’t have much to work with in the hotel fitness center. I’ve even done this workout in my room as you only need a very small space to do the exercises.

Start by getting on the floor for your mountain climbers. Put yourself in a push-up position with the only difference being you’ll start with one foot forward (your knee will be bent and positioned under your chest).

To complete the mountain climber movement you’ll simply drive your legs back and forth in a running motion. Try to keep your core braced during the movement not allowing your hips to sag towards the ground. Each foot strike is considered a ½ rep so count in a 1-1, 2-2, type fashion.

Complete 20 reps then immediately get up and perform 20-30 jumping jacks. This should give you approximately a 1 minute interval. Recover for 1:00-1:30 then repeat the circuit. Look to complete a total of 8 circuits.

Equipment
None required

Duration
Approximately 15-20 minutes

#15  Sand Bag Shouldering

Description
Sand bag workouts are a great way to get in some “old school” cardio conditioning while at the same time developing total body strength. They are hard to beat as an all around workout. You can do these workouts in a number of ways.

You can pick up a heavy sand bag and walk or run it a short distance or put in on the ground and shoulder it with reps. Either way the idea is once again to do a short burst of high intensity exercise followed by a short recovery period.

Stick with your interval principals by working at a high intensity for 15-30 seconds then rest for 1:00-1:30. Complete a total of 8 circuits or intervals.  Warm up with some dynamic stretching and/or light jogging before starting this workout.

Equipment
Sand bag

Duration
Approximately 15-20 minutes

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts. If you’re looking for a Charleston gym that provides personal fitness instruction sign up for a FREE no-obligations trial and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself today.

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Category: Fitness Training.