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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

When people think of cardio, usually a boring treadmill, elliptical machine, or other mundane activity comes to mind. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

When you’re short on time or easily distracted, there are a variety of fat-burning cardio alternatives that will increase your body’s metabolism, boost weight loss, and keep you interested.

Here’s a list of different types of cardio workouts:

  • Steady State (Burns less fat, but isn’t as demanding on the body)
  • Interval Training (Burns more fat)
  • HIIT
  • Spinning
  • Stairs
  • Weight Training (Supersets) short rest periods
  • Weight Training (Compound Sets) short rest periods
  • Machine Circuit Training

And I’m going to talk about each of them in detail:

1. Steady State

Steady state cardio involves working at a low to moderate intensity — around 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, for a sustained period of time. This type of cardio doesn’t burn a huge number of calories, but it does burn a high percentage of fat tissue for fuel, and it isn’t too draining.

An example of steady state cardio would be a long outdoor walk at a moderate pace. Interval training, on the other hand, is much more intense.

2. Interval Training

Similar to HIIT but with exercises that are slightly longer in duration, interval training alternates levels of intensity. For example, if you enjoy running, you would run or sprint for 30 seconds, then bring down your heart rate and walk for two minutes.

Pick two intensities per interval, usually one at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and the other at 60 percent, and alternate between them. I find that 85% for 30 seconds and 60% for one minute, not only burns more calories but increases my energy level as well.

Another example would be jumping rope. Jump rope for two minutes, rest for one minute. Begin again, this time jumping rope for one minute and resting for one minute. On the third and final round, jump rope for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds. Repeat five sets of this routine.

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3. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Have a busy schedule? Fifteen minutes a few times a week is all you need. HIIT is an extremely popular workout because it can be done quickly, burn calories in a short amount of time, and can even be done in your home or during a lunch break at work. And the best part – You don’t need any equipment.

With the use of your body weight, HIIT is typically 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of active rest which means your heart rate remains elevated for the entire 15-minute workout.

Check out this HIIT routine by Fitness Blender: 15 Minute HIIT Workout

4. Spinning

Spinning is a great way to get your heart up and keep it up in a 45-minute spin class. Our thighs and back are our largest muscles so they work the hardest.

To get the most out of spinning, try to stay out of the saddle throughout an entire spin class. That way, you are forced to hold up your body weight which burns more calories and increases intensity.

It’s also great for stabilizing and building strong core muscles, versus cycling outdoors, where most of the time you are sitting in the saddle and going for distance (steady-state cardio).

5. Stairs

One of my favorite places to get out of the gym for cardio and trim fat from my thighs and butt is the Santa Monica Stairs, near California’s most popular beach. Climbing 170 steps a few times builds the glutes, leans the thighs, strengthens the calves, and builds endurance.

So, if the gym is not your scene and you love the outdoors, climbing stairs is a great alternative. Find a place with multiple steps, do six or seven rounds, and you’ve easily burned around 600 calories.

6. Supersets

A superset is two exercises that work opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, or different body parts such as the lower and upper body with little to no recovery between sets.

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The superset may include two to five sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of each exercise or more.[1]

So, if you love to workout with weight-training but aren’t really feeling cardio, supersets with no more than 30-second rest periods between exercises will keep your heart rate up. Not only will you build muscle, you will burn fat!

For example, say you are doing a leg workout, five sets of exercises with high reps and low weight is all it takes to turn your weight-training into a cardio workout.

Here’s one of my leg training workouts:

i. Dumbbell Step-Ups on a secure bench or box (4×15, each leg)

ii. Front Squat (4×15)

iii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet (4×15)

iv. Leg Extension (4×15)

v. Leg Curl (4×15)

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    Photo Credit: Shape Magazine

    vi. Front Squat


      Photo Credit: Stack

      vii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet Squat

      viii. Leg Extension

      ix. Leg Curl

        Photo Credit: T Nation

        7. Compound Sets

        Compound exercises are exercises that recruit muscles in the entire body, such as pull-ups, squats, bench press, etc. However, a compound set simply means to “compound” the number of different exercises into a series of sets with little or no recovery between, similar to supersets.

          This may be accomplished by performing four to five exercises for the same muscle group, opposing muscle groups or total body exercises performed in succession such as full body extensions, followed by squat/cleans and complete the compound set of compound exercises with lunges with biceps curls.

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          Compound sets put stress on the body and are great for expending additional calories while strength-training.

          8. Machine Weight Training Circuit

          Like compound exercises, a machine circuit workout targets the entire body, upper body, lower body, or core. The difference is, with the use of machines instead of free weights, muscle strength is increased by by making your muscles work against weight.[2] By limiting rest periods between exercises to 30 seconds, your metabolism will go into over-drive!

          Machines also give you better control over the exercises, which decreases risk of injury.

          Here’s a machine circuit training example: Muscle and Strength Machine Workout

          The Bottom Line

          The above-mentioned workouts should be completed within 30 minutes, unless you’re taking a class which is typically 45 to 60 minutes, giving you time to get on with the rest of your day.

          By keeping your rest periods to a minimum between exercises, your heart rate will stay elevated and you will burn more calories, get lean, and have more energy.

          Don’t be a gym rat, spending unnecessary time doing lengthy workouts that give you minimum results. For efficient weight loss, perform these workouts three times a week and watch the fat melt away while achieving your fitness goals.

          More Resources About Weight Loss

          Featured photo credit: Spencer Dahl via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Mountain Life Fitness: Super sets, compound sets and giant sets
          [2] Better Health Channel: Resistance training – health benefits

          More by this author

          Terri West

          Certified Fitness Trainer & Nutrition Specialist

          8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss 17 Weight Loss Recipes That Are Incredibly Nutritious and Super Delicious Try These Flexibility Stretches to Enhance Your Daily Workout The Best Fitness Plan for You Based on Your Body Type 7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

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          Last Updated on February 21, 2019

          Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

          Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

          Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

          If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

          When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

          In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

          1. Salmon

          Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

          It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

          Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

          Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

          Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

          Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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          2. Blueberries

          Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

          Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

          Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

          Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

          Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

          3. Turmeric

          Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

          Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

          Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

          Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

          Curcumin has also been shown to:

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          • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
          • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
          • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
          • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

          4. Coffee

          Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

          Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

          Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

          Coffee can also:

          • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
          • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
          • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
          • Improve your memory.
          • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

          5. Broccoli

          What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

          Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

          Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

          Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

          Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

          6. Bone broth

          Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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          Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

          Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

          Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

          Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

          With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

          Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

          7. Walnuts

          Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

          Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

          Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

          Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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          8. Eggs

          For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

          Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

          Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

          9. Dark chocolate

          You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

          Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

          Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

          Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

          Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

          Conclusion

          Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

          In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

          If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

          More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
          [2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
          [3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
          [4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
          [5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
          [6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
          [7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
          [8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
          [9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
          [10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
          [11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
          [12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
          [13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
          [14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
          [15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
          [16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
          [17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
          [18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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