What’s the Most Efficient Cardio Workout?

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It is recommended that the average person does between 20 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day. But what is the one best cardio exercise that gets you the most bang for the buck?

Of course, getting to the gym or outdoors and just simply exercising, no matter what, is great for your health, but some forms of exercise are more efficient calorie-burners than others. Here’s a list of the best.

7. Running

Running Woman

Running is a full body workout and the amount of calories it burns per hour varies dramatically from person to person, depending on how fast you run, on what surface and your technique/stride and what trainers you are wearing as choosing the right running shoes can help reaching you the best results. See more. Generally, you can expect to burn 600-1200 calories per hour

However, low intensity cardio like running is not very effective for weight loss. In fact, a study performed by researchers at the Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona, came to a surprising finding. They recruited 81 overweight women to run at low speed on the treadmill three times a week, 30 minutes each time. The women did not need to change their diet. What do you think the result was? A whopping 70 percent of the women actually gained weight! And the weight gain consisted of fat tissue, not muscle.

To optimize your running for weight loss, try setting your treadmill to an incline (hill run). Add high intensity interval training – sprinting, even for bursts of 20-30 seconds, dramatically boosts your metabolism rate.

If you think running is the best way for you to burn calories, check what basic apparel will help you do your cardio with pleasure. See more here.

6. Cycling

Cycling Man

The motion of pedalling uses the powerful muscles in your leg and burns calories quickly. The number of calories you burn will depend on the intensity in which you cycle, but generally cycling can burn 500-1000 calories per hour and is one of the highest calories burners out there, especially if done correctly.

Don’t forget that road cycling adds the elements of the wind resistance etc and adds to an even more intense workout, but if you don’t fancy facing the changeable weather, an indoor cycling can be just as effective. If you choose to use the bike at a gym, make sure you set the resistance high enough, so that you use the power in your legs, as opposed to the natural pedalling motion, it might feel easy, but it is cheating! If you are breathing rapidly, it is a good indication that you have the settings just right!

The bonus of stationary bikes, is the fact that you can keep a check of the distance you have cycled over and for how long, allowing you to track your workout and calorie loss. A tip for cycling is to do 2-3 minutes of intense pedalling and then rest (pedal slower for a few minutes). This high intensity workout will ensure that you keep losing calories after your workout, rather than if you exercise at a slower, steady pace throughout. Joining a spinning class is a good way to get some high-intensity workouts in to music and a nice sociable environment, with instructions from a trained professional.

5. Elliptical Trainer

Elliptical Trainer

Contrary to popular belief, the elliptical trainer is not the most effective gym machine for burning calories, especially if you tend to hold the handrail for support when working out. You can expect to burn approximately 600 calories per hour and more if the trainer includes arm movements.

The reason you burn less than running is that the machine does a lot of the work for you with its momentum, rather than your muscles having to do the majority of the power/movement. To get the most from your workout on this machine, put the resistance at a higher setting and don’t use the rails to lean on for support, this way you will burn more calories and build up your endurance.

4. Rowing Machine

Man On A Rowing Machine

The rowing machine is hard work for the body, and most exercise that feels tough is usually excellent for calories burning and fitness goals! The good news is, that this all-over body worker burns over 1000 calories per hour. Rowing works your upper and lower body and is not only great for warming up, but for a longer, more intense workout.

The motion can get a little monotonous, so a good way to keep at it and keep burning through those calories is to change the speeds at different intervals. It is important to use the correct technique when rowing, to avoid back and knee injury, so if in doubt, ask your gym instructor. As well as limiting injury, using the right technique will ensure that your body is working in its optimum condition for calories busting.

3. Stair Climber

Girl On Stair Climber

If you add resistance to the stair climber, you can burn approximately 600 calories in an hour and work on your lower-body strength. The muscles it uses are limited, so adding some dumbbell lifting can add to the effectiveness of the workout.

2. Jump Rope/Skipping

Girls Rope Jumping

There’s a reason Rocky trains with a jumping rope! This is one of the simplest and most effective cardio workouts you can do to use your whole body, improve your cardiovascular endurance and your strength, speed and agility. It can burn over 750 calories an hour, although an hour of jumping can be pretty intense, but even adding 10 minutes to your gym session will reap rewards.

1. Kettlebell Workout

Kettlebell Cardio Training

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin  published a study that proved that a 20 minutes kettlebell workout burn around 270 cal. Volunteers performed a pre-determined 20-minute kettlebell snatch workout typical of a common kettlebell routine. The workout consisted of a brief warm-up, then 15 seconds of snatches, followed by 15 seconds of rest. The study found that they were burning approximately 20.2 calories per minute!  So grab your kettlebell and go for a snatch to do your cardio in half the time!

Which is the Best Cardio Workout for You?

At the end of the day, the cardio you enjoy the most, will mean you are more likely to stick at it and do it consistently every day. The best option is to choose some exercises that you both enjoy and benefit from, and mix them up in your gym routine to keep it fresh. Your body will respond better if you switch things around, mix the exercises up and add some obstacles, such as weight (dumbbells) or higher resistance.

Exercise classes, with an instructor, friends and some music blasting, are great ways to burn calories – often without really feeling like you’re suffering too much! Try a step aerobics class and burn around 800 calories in an hour, as well as tone specific areas of your body.

Team sports such as basketball and football are great forms of exercise, as is martial arts. A racquet sport with a friend can be a great social activity and an intense workout, with the quick movements and changes of pace, as well as competitive edge all helping lose some weight. If you want to try something a bit different, rock climbing can burn up to 800 calories an hour and uses a lot of arm and leg strength and bursts of power.

The Calorie Burn Breakdown

Which exercise burns how many calories? Which is the most effective cardio exercise?

Exercise Calories per Hour
Elliptical Trainer 600
Stair Climber 600
Cycling 500 – 1,000
Rope Jumping 750
Rowing Machine 1,000
Running 600 – 1,200
Kettlebell Workout 1,200

An exercise which is vigorous enough to leave you breathless, will be burning those calories, or if you’re not quite ready for strenuous routines, just do a steadier pace for a longer length of time. If you want to get in shape, remember that nutrition and exercise must come hand in hand and you will soon feel fitter and stronger, as well as look great too!

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