The Most Effective Types of Cardio

October 12, 2014

I have 30 pounds left to lose until I am finally at my fitness goal. It has been a long 11 months of work, but I am ecstatic to have made such huge changes in my life. However, over the past 2 months or so, my weight loss journey my loss has been stagnant. I had other issues that needed my attention so I had to shift my focus for a bit. That is how it goes though; that's life. We are going to face immense ups and downs along the way, but no matter what, one must keep trying; one must keep pushing on. Giving up is never, ever an option. 

As I dedicate myself back to the way I need to train and eat, it is important to make the most out of every single workout I have. I usually do 45 minutes of cardio a day with my specific workout. Since I engage in cardio everyday, as most people do, it can be easy to get bored with it and not push myself as hard. Today I wanted to share a few of the different types of cardio training I engage in.

High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) is also referred to as "sprint intervals". This type of cardio training is an exercise strategy that alternates periods of short intense intervals with less intense recovery intervals. Basically, you push yourself to the limit for X amount of time, then rest (while still exercising) for an even shorter amount, then repeat. This is without a doubt one of the best types of cardio training to burn fat and lose weight. You not only improve your body, but your heart. Because intervals are alternated so rapidly, the heart is in a constant state of work and pumping, which causes it to strengthen. This type of training also improves a persons metabolism and because of the intensity, a long duration of exercise is not necessary. 

Examples (20 minute durations):
--Stairmill: 2 minutes work: 130 SPM (Steps-per-minute) then 1 minute rest: 60 SPM. Repeat
--Inclined walk: 2 minutes work: 3.5 speed with 10 incline, then 1 minute rest: 3.4 speed with no incline. Repeat 
--Running: 1 minute of sprinting as fast as you can then 1 minute slow walk

You can also engage in H.I.I.T by doing mountain climbers, jumping jacks, jump squats, etc. for X amount of time then a slow walk for the rest period. Equipment is not always necessary, therefore this training can be done anywhere! 

Endurance training is a great way to improve strength and overall stamina. This is not just for people who want to run marathons; this is a great type of cardio training for anyone, as overall improved stamina helps with everything health and fitness related. Endurance allows people to work out at a certain intensity or for an extended amount of time. The better a persons endurance is, the longer they can exercise without stopping and slowing down. This type of cardio training should be challenging, but not to the point of maxing out your heart rate like a sprint would. This type of cardio is done for a longer period of time, with the heart rate staying at a certain rate. This is hard because after a certain amount of time, you will become tired and want to slow, but don't as that is how one builds their body's endurance; by pushing through at staying at the same rate of work, even though the body is growing tired. 

--For me, on the Elliptical, resistance is hard me at level 13. It's tough for me to keep my usual speed at that level. Therefore when I endurance train, I would set the resistance at 13 (where it starts to get tough for me) and ensure I keep my speed at a good pace to where the entire workout is a challenge. I will not change my speed or resistance this entire training. This duration could vary from 30-60 minutes.

--I can swiftly run for about 30 minutes straight without feeling tired or out of breath. To challenge myself and build endurance, I would set my workout for a 40 minute run, then gradually increase the pace of the run as well as the time as my body and system strengthens. 

This type of cardio is a low intensity type of training done for a long period of time. It is slow, easy, and long, and one should be able to converse comfortably during. It is ideal for someone who is just beginning to exercise on a regular basis, recovering from a sickness and/or surgery, or someone who is obese and/or severely overweight. It can provide a reasonable amount of caloric and fat loss, but will not aid  as effective in a "total body transformation" such as building muscle.

--1+ hour walk in a park or beach
--Afternoon bike ride

Cross-training involves alternating pieces of cardio equipment within different periods of time. This is a great way to keep variety in your cardio workout: the time generally seems to go by fast and since you are alternating equipment and not on one machine for a prolonged period of time, it is essentially easier to keep endurance up and push hard. Cross training cardio is effective for boosting metabolism, burning fat, and building endurance. This workout should be moderately challenging for the entire duration. When I do cross-training, I do the hardest piece of cardio first and the easiest last; that way I have the most energy for the first one and get the most out of my training. 

--4 different pieces of equipment for 10 minutes each. 
My favorite combination:
Incline walk: 3.5 speed, 7 incline
StairMill: 70 SPM
Jog: 7.0 speed
Elliptical: 10 resistance, 9 incline


  1. You're so right about making the most of every workout. I try and do that, but sometimes I just want to relax... and exercise is not the time to relax ;) I like running, obviously, and I'm not good at sprints and the like so I guess that falls under low but long intensity? or endurance? Lol. I do like switching it up with some HIIT sometimes, just not running!

  2. I love sprint intervals - I'm more of a distance runner, but adding in intervals has really helped me a TON with speed in general, which then helps focus me to WANT to run more.
    This is a great and very handy guide to various types of cardio - so many people I know just think of cardio is "running."

  3. Thanks for the all the helpful advice, as always I will add these ideas into my current workout. I do have a question for you though...what type of sports bra do you wear? I am a DD and running with what feels like two small children sitting on my chest about kills me....any advice?

    1. Girl! I went to Old Navy about a month ago and brought bras that were one size smaller than what I normally wear. I bought a M when normally I would do a large. My boobs seriously do not move when I am training; it is the BEST. They are the best I have had thus far. I looked at my bra and it just says "Active by Old Navy" so I guess that is the kind? Also, I have a couple of "Under Armour" sports bra too which are equally as good but more expensive.

  4. I no longer belong to a gym (maybe one day again, when there's one closer to my house) but I'm thinking about budgeting for some drop in Zumba, kickboxing, and HIIT classes at a local sports complex. For now, though, I'm good with my T-25. Changes it up enough for me!

  5. Great post! I love seeing articles educating people about things like this; you do such a great job of that! And definitely switching things up is going to keep your body guessing and give you the most out of each session. And if I may, I would love to add on to what you've said maybe to shed light on one method that is often skipped, for probably obvious reasons lol!

    I would say from a lot of personal experience; and even the fact that I hate it more than anything but the more effective means (even more so than HIIT and 'endurance' training and especially more than low and long intensity cardio) would be doing medium length sessions of what my trainer likes to call "vomit cardio." Now hear me out ;) this method is designed to make you want to quit and is not for the faint at heart, but to burn the most fat and calories you've got to get that VO2 max level up up up. The heavier you breathe, the more oxygen cycling, and the more effort you put in, then more fat/calories will be burned. Plus the faster your metabolism will be after the session too. I am actually in the process of writing a "how to cardio" post because I love a particular theory/method behind it. I figure, I hate it, so why not shorten my sessions and get the max out of them in one fail swoop! Something to try one day when you're feeling frisky! ;)

  6. Cardio is my least favorite thing on the planet, but it is a necessary evil..I know! I am not sure what happened with me, but I have realized over the last two months I have gained like 10 lbs. I work out 6 days a week...so I have a feeling it is my eating. Why do I have to want all of the bad things? My weekends are slowly killing me. I am switching up my work outs starting this week...and trying to really only have one cheat a week and not an entire weekend that undoes everything I work so hard for anymore.

  7. Great job on the education of the variety of training. All the cardio equipment says stuff but who knows what it means? Almost nobody! You use great examples as well. Great post!

  8. Ugh I wish you lived near me lol... I would so make you my workout partner/ hiking partner... I would be more then ok with that just saying :)

  9. So much great info on Cardio. I know a lot of people dread it, myself included at times but on those days I go hiking. It is all about finding what kind you love for your goals! Awesome job girl!

  10. Making the most of EVERY workout - Amen Sister!

    I love how you spell it out - give everyone an idea what each exercise is about - and then give examples.
    You really are committed to helping everyone along on this healthy journey!

    :) You are a rock star!

  11. No matter what your ultimate objective is, be it building muscles, losing/gaining weight, getting in shape, fat reduction, you can get answer to all your fitness related queries at fitness classes australia.

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