Most Effective Cardio Exercises To Burn Calories and Fat


The best cardio exercise is simply the one you will do day in and day out consistently. Choose one which you enjoy doing and don’t be afraid to mix the exercises up. Interval cardio work consists of moving from one exercise to another in set time intervals. For example, you could do the elliptical trainer for 15 minutes, then switch to the stationary bike for another 15 minutes and finish off on the treadmill for the last 15 minutes. Interval training is a great way to keep everything fresh!

There are two schools of though when it comes to cardio training. The “slow & steady” group and the “high intensity” group. These two groups breakdown like this:

Slow & Steady Cardio

  • Long duration (45min – 1 hour)
  • Low intensity
  • Burn fat and not carbs
  • Preserve joints

High Intensity Cardio

  • Short duration (20min – 30min)
  • High intensity (interval training)
  • Burn tons of calories & rev up your metabolism throughout the day
  • Treat cardio like weights – explosive movements (sprinting, etc)

Our advice is to try both for at least 6 weeks and make sure to monitor your progress with a journal and take weekly photos of yourself to see if you’re truly losing body fat.

Which Cardio Exercise Burns the Most Calories?
Below are the top 10 cardio exercises which burn the most calories in 30 minutes.

  1. trail-runningStep Aerobics – one of the most favorite cardio exercises preferred by women. Step Aerobics mainly target your legs, hips and glutes, and can burn approx. 400 calories in 30 minutes.
  2. Bicycling – stationary or outdoors is a great cardio exercises, depending on resistance and speed can but 250 to 500 calories in 30 minutes.
  3. Swimming – like cross-country skiing is an excellent cardio exercises as it is a full body exercises. Swimming is a great cross-training for other cardio activities. Doing the breast stroke can burn approx. 400 calories in 30 minutes.
  4. Racquetball – side to side sprinting makes racquetball and excellent cardio exercises. A 145-lb person burns over 400 calories in 30 minutes.
  5. Rock Climbing – is not only a cardio exercises, but also uses arm and leg strength and power. Rock Climbing can burn up to 380 calories in 30 minutes.
  6. Cross-Country Skiing – whether on a machine or outdoors on snow, is an incredible cardio exercises as it involves both upper and lower body. A 145 lb person can burn approx 330 calories in 30 minutes.
  7. Running – Running is an excellent cardio exercises because all you need is a pair of quality running shoes. Running burns serious calories. A 145 LB person can easily burn 300 calories in 30 minutes.
  8. Elliptical Trainer – is an excellent cardio exercises and a great way to build endurance. A 145 LB person can burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes.
  9. Rowing – is both a cardio exercises as well as giving your arms an incredible workout. 145 LB person can burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes.
  10. Walking – Brisk walking is a less strenuous form of cardio exercises. Walking can burn up to 180 calories in 30 minutes. Sprinting, adding hills or an incline can increase amount of calories burned.

For the real high intensity cardio people out there who love the H.I.I.T training (High Intensity Interval Training), below are the top three cardio exercise which will provide amazing results!

  1. Jumping Rope – This is one of the simplest, yet most effective exercises one can do. In just 15 to 20 minutes, jumping rope will give you an unparalleled total body workout. Jumping rope is ideal for cardiovascular endurance and enhances performance in virtually any sport – tennis, basketball, football, skiing, volleyball and more. This simple exercise is also great for eye-hand coordination, lateral movement, foot and hand speed and agility.
  2. Sprinting – Sprinting is a killer fat burning cardio exercise. Just look at the incredible muscular phsiques of world class Olympic sprinters versus the skinny and gaunt look of marathon runners. Sprinting is a truly explosive exercise that burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time and keep your metabolism humming all throughout the day!
  3. Spinning – These high-intensity workouts to music simulate a challenging bike ride, complete with hills, valleys and varying speeds, all dictated by the group instructor.

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  1. Avatar
    Jocilyn r harris on

    Yes, jump roping is a great exercise but if you tighten your stomach muscles it turns into an ab and cardio workout at the same time. Also, swimming is one of the best exercises and you can lose a lot of weight from just swimming 30 minutes daily. Carbs are not bad things either and this is something that drives me nuts when people say that you are going to get fat from carbs. Carbs are energy.

    • Avatar

      Carbs turn into sugars in your bloodstream and that is where you get the energy from. Unused sugars in your bloodstream turn into fat cells as storage for the next time you need energy. If one is not using up all the energy every time one eats, then the process of storing fat continues. Over time, adding more and more fat cells like this will make you become overweight. Whole grain carbs are preferred because they metabolize slower and can be burned off more efficiently. Carbs like white flour, table sugar, and caffeine (releases sugar from the liver into the blood stream) give a quick burst of energy then a fast crash which leaves you more hungry which results in eating more and means you’re putting more sugars and calories into your system. You have to burn off all that energy so it won’t convert to fat cells. That, in a nut shell, is the process and the reason people say negative things about eating too many carbs.

  2. Avatar

    I weigh 130 pounds. If I were to run for 30 minutes and then jump rope for another 30 minutes, how many calories would I burn?

  3. Avatar

    I’m a 42 year old female who weighs about 180 lbs. I’d like start a workout program, but am not sure which one to do. Do I have to take supplements with an exercise program? Will it help with weight loss? I can use any and all advice regarding the subject.

    • ShapeFit

      Hi Suzania – You can always use nutritional supplements for convenience, but you don’t have to in order to lose body fat, gain lean muscle and get fit. Feel free to review our workout articles here on ShapeFit to learn more about specific routines to follow.

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