What Are the Most Effective Cardio Workouts for Burning Fat?

What are the best types of workouts to lose unwanted body fat and drop some weight? Are there specific exercises designed for burning calories?

A woman training on one of the best cardio machines for fat loss - an exercise bike.

In the pursuit of shedding excess fat and attaining a leaner physique, cardio workouts are the go-to. These exercises not only boost heart health but also effectively burn calories, leading to fat loss. In this guide, we'll delve into some of the most effective cardio workouts tailored specifically for burning fat and touch on the best cardio machines for fat loss that you can use to optimise these workouts. So let’s dive right in.

The 5 Best Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

Before we start examining individual calorie-burning exercises, we should make a quick note - there is no single cardio workout that is best for each person. Some exercises are better suited for persons recovering from injuries, some cardio gym machines may provide additional benefits in addition to burning fat, some workouts burn calories but are time-intensive, etc.

That’s to say that when you are making a workout plan, tailor it to your specific needs and preferences - this will likely include a mix of the cardio workouts we will be discussing. With that out of the way, let’s talk about the most effective cardio workouts for burning fat and how they compare to each other.

  1. Running/Jogging

Running and jogging are timeless cardio exercises renowned for fat-burning. Whether hitting the pavement outdoors or utilising a treadmill indoors, these activities elevate the heart rate and engage major muscle groups, resulting in significant calorie expenditure. Beginners or those with injuries can start with a brisk walk and gradually increase pace and duration to incorporate jogging intervals. 

To spice up your treadmill workout, you can try incorporating incline intervals to simulate outdoor terrain and maximise calorie burn. Beyond burning fat, running and jogging provide numerous other benefits. Compared to other cardio workouts, they engage a wide range of muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and core muscles. 

This comprehensive engagement leads to not only calorie burning during the exercise session but also a higher post-exercise calorie expenditure due to the muscle repair and growth process. One additional benefit of treadmills is the ability to control speed, incline, and duration, allowing for a customised workout tailored to individual fitness levels and goals. 

Interval training, such as alternating between periods of sprinting and recovery, can be easily incorporated to boost intensity and calorie burn. Compared to cycling or rowing, running and jogging requires minimal equipment and can be performed virtually anywhere, making them accessible and convenient options for fat-burning cardio workouts.

  1. Cycling

Cycling, whether on a stationary bike or out on the road, offers a low-impact yet highly effective fat-burning workout. This exercise primarily targets the lower body muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, while also engaging the core for stability. One of the significant advantages of cycling is its adaptability to various fitness levels and goals.

Unlike running, which can be high-impact and stressful on the joints, cycling provides a gentler form of exercise while still delivering impressive results. This makes it an excellent option for individuals with joint issues or those recovering from injuries, allowing them to reap the benefits of cardio exercise without risking further strain.

Additionally, there are many types of exercise bikes, but all of them offer the added benefit of controlled resistance settings. By adjusting the resistance level, you can tailor the workout intensity to match your fitness level and desired challenge. For individuals aiming to maximise calorie burn, incorporating interval training into cycling sessions can be particularly effective. 

Alternating between periods of high-intensity sprints and recovery periods not only boosts metabolism during the workout but also increases the body's calorie-burning potential post-exercise. All of this makes an exercise bike one of the best machines for fat loss for people with joint issues or prior injuries. 

  1. Rowing

A man dressed in black working out on a rowing machine at a gym.

Rowing is often undeservedly overlooked in favour of more popular cardio exercises. It provides a full-body workout that effectively burns fat and promotes overall fitness. This exercise engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the legs, back, arms, and core, making it a highly efficient cardiovascular exercise.

One of the key advantages of rowing is its ability to provide both a cardio and strength training workout in one session. The pulling motion targets the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and arms, while the leg drive engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Additionally, the core muscles are activated throughout the entire rowing stroke to maintain stability and control.

Rowing machines typically offer adjustable resistance settings, allowing you to customise the intensity of your workouts. Beginners can start with lower resistance levels and gradually increase as they build strength and endurance. Experimenting with different resistance levels and stroke rates adds variety to workouts and keeps them challenging and engaging.

Incorporating interval training into rowing workouts can further enhance fat-burning and cardiovascular fitness. High-intensity intervals, such as rowing at maximum effort for 30-60 seconds followed by a period of rest or lower-intensity rowing, elevate heart rate and metabolism, leading to greater calorie expenditure and improved fitness gains.

Rowing also provides a low-impact alternative to exercises like running or ellipticals, making it suitable for individuals with joint issues or those recovering from injuries, just like cycling. The smooth, gliding motion of rowing minimises stress on the joints while still delivering a highly effective workout. All of this makes the rowing machine one of the best cardio machines for fat loss and strength training.

However, proper technique is essential for maximising the effectiveness of rowing workouts. Focus on driving through the legs to initiate the stroke, then follow through with a strong pull of the arms and a controlled return to the starting position. Maintaining a smooth, fluid motion minimises the risk of injury and ensures that the muscles are properly engaged throughout the exercise.

  1. Elliptical Trainer Exercises

The elliptical trainer offers a low-impact yet highly effective fat-burning workout, making it a popular choice for individuals looking to improve cardiovascular health and shed excess fat. This machine mimics the motion of running without the jarring impact on the joints. On top of that, using an elliptical trainer can provide a full-body workout. 

The elliptical motion engages muscles in both the upper and lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, chest, back, and arms. By incorporating both pushing and pulling motions, the elliptical trainer effectively targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to greater calorie burn and overall muscle toning.

Elliptical trainers in the gym often come equipped with adjustable resistance and incline settings, allowing users to customize the intensity of their workouts. Higher resistance levels increase the challenge, requiring greater effort from the muscles and resulting in more calories burned. 

Additionally, adjusting the incline can target different muscle groups and add variety to the workout. Some elliptical trainers come equipped with built-in workout programs that automatically adjust resistance and incline levels throughout the workout. These pre-programmed workouts can add structure and variety to your training routine, keeping workouts challenging and engaging.

To maximise the effectiveness of elliptical training for fat burning, consider incorporating interval training into your workouts. High-intensity intervals, such as alternating between periods of all-out effort and recovery, elevate heart rate and metabolism, leading to greater calorie expenditure both during and after the workout. Experiment with different interval lengths and intensities to find what works best for you.

  1. Stair Climbing

Stair climbing, whether on a stair climber machine or actual stairs, is an excellent cardio exercise for burning fat and sculpting the lower body. Climbing stairs engages the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves while also elevating heart rate for cardiovascular benefits. The stair climber machine allows you to control speed and resistance, offering a customisable workout experience. 

Beginners can start with lower resistance and gradually increase as they build strength and endurance. The primary reason that stair climbers are some of the best cardio machines for fat loss is that the repetitive motion of climbing stairs engages large muscle groups, leading to a higher calorie expenditure compared to other forms of cardio exercise. 

HIIT Training

Two man doing HIIT exercises to burn calories and lose fat.

We’ve mentioned adding high-intensity intervals to your training several times now, so let’s also explore that. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is not a workout in itself, but the manner in which you do exercises. It involves alternating between short bursts of intense exercise and brief periods of rest or lower-intensity activity. 

HIIT has been shown to be highly effective for burning fat and improving cardiovascular health in a shorter amount of time compared to steady-state cardio. One of the benefits of HIIT is that you cause the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect - your body elevates oxygen consumption and the metabolic rate to recover, often lasting for hours after you’re done exercising.

This essentially means that you are burning calories even when you are done with your workout. Thus, incorporating HIIT exercises with each of the aforementioned cardio workouts can further enhance fat loss and fitness gains. For example, you can incorporate sprint intervals during running or cycling sessions, perform high-intensity rowing intervals, or add bursts of speed or resistance on the elliptical or stair climber machines.

The Importance of Nutrition

Finally, the role of nutrition in fitness must be mentioned. While cardio workouts are instrumental in burning fat and improving overall fitness, the importance of nutrition cannot be overstated. Fueling your body with the right nutrients is essential for supporting your workouts, optimising fat loss, and achieving your fitness goals. 

Focus on consuming a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Additionally, staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining energy levels and aiding in recovery. By combining effective cardio workouts with a nutritious diet, you can maximise your fat-burning potential and enjoy long-term success in your fitness journey.

Getting Everything You Need for Burning Fat

Incorporating cardio workouts into your fitness routine is essential for burning fat, improving cardiovascular health, and achieving overall wellness. And in case you wish to do cardio at home, you’ll need some exercise machines. At FlexEquipment, you will find the cardio machines you want. 

We offer affordable treadmills, exercise bikes, rowers, and ellipticals that you can order online and get delivered to your address. You can also find a store near you and make your purchase in person. Whatever you choose, feel free to contact us if you need any assistance. And good luck with burning that fat!