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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

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          Last Updated on October 23, 2019

          50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

          50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

          If you’re like me and really into self-development, you’ve probably read many of the thousands of self-help books out there on the market. But also like me, you probably find all the information a bit overwhelming.

          That’s why I wanted to do the self-less task of taking the most important, life-changing lessons I’ve drawn from these books and condensed them into fifty key points.

          Here’re 50 habits of highly successful people you should learn:

          1. Believe It to See It

          Our minds tend to focus on what’s happening around us and refuse to see what could happen. Only when you trust in what’s possible and dare to dream big, big things can happen for you.

          2. See Problems as a Wonderful Gift

          While others only see problems and give up, successful people use the problem as a lesson to find improvement in themselves or the task at hand.

          3. Keep Looking for Solutions

          Even if they’re knee-deep in problems, successful people will still put all of their focus on finding solutions.

          4. Remember It’s All About the Journey

          Successful people are conscious and methodical in creating their own success. They don’t sit around doing the bare minimum, hoping success finds them.

          5. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

          There’s so much fear on the road to success, but instead of letting that fear control and limit them, successful people do a good job of just forging ahead regardless.

          6. Always Ask Productive Questions

          It’s all about asking the right questions. Successful people make sure they are questions that will elicit information for a more productive, creative and positive mindset moving forward.

          7. Understand the Best Waste of Energy Is Complaining

          Successful people know that choosing to see the negative side of things will only create a useless and unproductive state.

          8. Don’t Play the Blame Game

          Taking responsibility for actions and outcomes is a form of empowerment that you can build your success upon. While the act of blaming others or outside circumstances takes this empowerment away from you.

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          9. Maximize Your Strengths

          Not every successful person is simply more talented than the rest, but they do use what they know they’re good at to achieve more successful results.

          10. Be in It to Win It

          Successful people are busy, productive and proactive. Instead of sitting around over-thinking and over-planning a great idea, they just take a step towards it no matter how small.

          11. Know That Success Attracts Success

          People who are successful surround themselves and seek out like-minded people. They understand the importance of being part of a team and forge win-win relationships.

          12. Actually Choose to Be Successful

          Dreaming big is a massive part of being successful even if your dream seems impossible. Ambition is a mindset that needs to be a daily conscious choice.

          13. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize!

          You’ve got to see your success in your mind’s eye even before it comes. Successful people clarify and get that certainty about what they want their reality to look like rather than being mere spectators of life.

          14. Be a One-Off Original

          Successful people look for what’s working and then create a unique spin on it. Imitating only regurgitates other people’s ideas with no originality.

          15. The Perfect Time to Act Is Now

          Waiting for the right time to act is basically procrastination wrapped up in an excuse. Successful people know there’s never a perfect time so they may as well just do it now.

          16. Keep Learning, Keep Growing

          Continuous learning is the key to a successful life. Whether it’s academic, being a student of life or actionable learning, it’s all about expanding your knowledge and personal development.

          17. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

          Successful people have the knack for finding positive aspects in all people and circumstances no matter what.

          18. Having a Bad Day? Do It Anyway!

          We all have bad moods but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stop everything. Giving into a bad mood just stop-starts your life, slowing success way down.

          19. Sometimes Risky Business Is Needed

          Calculated risks are a must for success. It’s about weighing the pros and cons while moving forward with that element of trust.

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          20. Accept Challenge All the Time

          Dealing with problems head-on is a must to be successful. Successful people also face challenges in order to improve themselves.

          21. Make Your Own Luck

          In the mindset of a successful person, there’s no such thing as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. They take control to actively and consciously create their own best life.

          22. Ignite Your Initiative

          While many people are reactive, successful people are proactive – taking action before they have to.

          23. Be the Master of Your Emotions

          Being effective at managing emotions is key on the road to success. That’s not to say successful people don’t feel like we all do, but they’re just not slaves to their emotions.

          24. Champion in Communication

          Consciously working on effective communication skills gets anyone closer to success.

          25. Plan Your Life Strategically

          Successful people’s lives aren’t a clumsy series of unplanned events and outcomes, they methodically work at turning their plans into a reality.

          26. Become Exceptional at What You Do

          To become exceptional, you typically have to do things that most won’t. To become successful, hard decisions need to be made and acting on them is crucial.

          27. Choose to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone

          While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid.

          28. Live by Core Values

          Successful people firstly identify their core values and what’s important to them, then do their best to live a life that reflects these values.

          29. Realize Money Isn’t Everything

          Money and success are not interchangeable and the most successful people understand this. Putting money on a pedestal and equating it to success is a dangerous mindset to have. Success comes in many forms.

          30. Don’t Get Carried Away

          Successful people understand the importance of discipline and self-control and as a result they are happy to take the road less travelled.

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          31. Self-Worth Is Not Tied to Success

          Successful people are secure. They do not derive their self-worth from what they own, who they know, where they live or what they look like.

          32. Kindness Breeds Kindness (And Success)

          Generosity and kindness is a common trait among long-term successful people. It’s important to take pleasure in helping others achieve.

          33. More Humility, Less Arrogance

          Successful people are humble and happy to admit and apologize for mistakes. This is because they’re confident in their ability. They are happy to learn from others and happy to make others look good rather than seek their own personal glory.

          34. Change Opens New Doors

          People who are successful are adaptable and embrace change, while the majority are creatures of comfort and habit. They are comfortable with, and embrace, the new and the unfamiliar.

          35. Success Requires a Healthy Body

          It’s not just how you think, it’s about how you show up for success. Successful people understand the importance of being physically well, not for vain reasons but because being in tiptop condition creates a better personal life for success.

          36. Laziness Just Doesn’t Exist

          Successful people are never considered lazy. Yes, they can relax when they need to, but working hard is their game.

          37. Resilience by the Bucket Load

          When difficulty strikes, most would throw in the towel, but successful people are just warming up.

          38. Feedback Is Just Another Chance to Improve

          How people react to feedback determines their potential for success. Being open to constructive criticism and acting on it to improve is most seen in those who are successful.

          39. Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

          If people are hanging out with toxic and negative people, then they need to take a look at themselves. Successful people hang out with others who are positive and supportive.

          40. Can’t Control It? Forget It

          Successful people don’t invest time or emotional energy into things which they have no control of.

          41. Swim Against the Tide

          Successful people are not people-pleasers and they don’t need constant approval from others in order to move ahead.

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          42. Alone Time Is Valuable Time

          More self-worth means being more comfortable with your own company. Successful people are more happy and see the value in spending time alone.

          43. Self-Standard Is Higher Than Most

          Everyone has a choice to set high standards for themselves. Successful people do this, which in turn produces greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and of course, better results.

          44. Failure Isn’t Rationalized

          While many use age, health, lack of time, ‘bad luck’, or lack of opportunity to explain away their failure, the key to success is finding a way to succeed despite facing these challenges.

          45. Down Time Is an Important Part of a Routine

          Having an off switch and taking time to do things that make them happy is a common trait of a successful person. Take a look at here The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

          46. Career Isn’t Who You Are, It’s What You Do

          Successful people know their career isn’t their identity. They are multi-dimensional and don’t define themselves by their job.

          47. Be Interested in Only the Path of Resistance

          While most people look for the easiest way or the shortcut, successful people are more interested in the most effective way. They look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.

          48. Follow Through

          Many spend their life starting things that they never finish, but successful people get the job done. Even when the excitement and the novelty has worn off they still follow through and finish.

          49. Invest in All Your Dimensions

          We’re not just physical and psychological beings, but emotional and spiritual creatures as well. Successful people consciously work at being healthy and productive on all levels.

          50. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

          To obtain success, it’s important to practice what you preach. Successful people don’t talk about the theory, they live the reality.

          So there you have it, a summary of what I’ve learned from self-help books. But of course, you need to start taking actions so you will get closer to success too.

          More About Success

          Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

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