Running? Elliptical? Spinning? Or could it be kettlebell swings? The debate rages on. After all, more calories burned results in faster weight loss. Last week, I was having an argument… I mean, conversation with my fiance discussing which cardio burns the most calories.
No matter what I said, I was wrong.
That's normal for our conversations. But I asked Courtney to give me a chance to explain my point. (After all, I'm a certified personal trainer.) She teaches spinning and group classes. And insists her workouts burn way more calories per hour than my weight training workouts.
“COOL STORY, BRO.”
That's what she actually said. I explained, the faster your heart rate, the more calories you burn. The way to burn the most calories is to increase the intensity of the cardio. The high aerobic exercise from stationary bikes can help you burn fat fast.
“So, I win.”
NOT SO FAST, I TOLD HER, ANY CARDIO.
Burning more calories requires more effort. Walking at a moderate pace burns calories, walking uphill burns more calories, speed-walking uphill carrying 8 grocery bags while chewing gum and texting burns the most calories. You get the point. The harder it feels, the harder you're working. Thus, the more calories your burning, regardless of the calorieburning exercise. Everyone wins.
But, what types of cardio burns the most calories?
That's easy, the cardio exercises you actually do. If you do them hard, you'll burn lots of calories.
In my experience, people don't struggle between aerobic activities. They usually struggle to decide between the couch and any workout plan.
Make it easy and pick what you like.
AT NASM AND TBP WE RECOMMEND THE FITTE PRINCIPLE
F: FREQUENCY (TIMES PER WEEK) – make it realistic
I: INTENSITY (EFFORT LEVEL) – higher heart rate equals higher calorie burn
T: TIME (DURATION) – the longer the time, the more calories in an hour
T: TYPE (KIND) – the form of exercise
E: ENJOYMENT (DO YOU LIKE IT?) – Calorie burn depends on doing the work, it helps more if you like it
Start with something you actually enjoy, and do that consistently. To increase the metabolic rate, make it harder: up the intensity, do highintensity training, change the incline, vary the speed, take fewer breaks, do more reps, use a fitness tracker. It doesn't take much thought to make your workout harder.
KEEP IT SIMPLE: HARDER CARDIO = MORE CALORIES BURNED
But remember if you're looking to drop belly fat, body fat, or lose weight. Healthy eating will always get you faster results than to torch calories. Cardio isn't the way to lose belly fat. But it is the way to a healthy heart. If you want to lose weight or lose fat, check out our fat loss article.
She scratched her head. I should've kept my mouth shut. But no, I added, “I've ridden my bike from Canada to Mexico, your spin class would probably be pretty easy for me.” She gave me a look, you know the look. It's about to go down. Next thing I know, I was in her spin class with my legs strapped to a propeller. My legs spun ridiculously fast, my body drenched in sweat, my heart screamed, and my mouth gasped for air. I started to think about medical advice. The class destroyed me.
She smiled and said, I win!
NASM Master Trainer
Best Selling Author, Get Me Skinny