I hear this question asked all the time. It has been ingrained in our minds that when we want to lose weight, we should jump on some form of cardio equipment and sweat off the calories. But there are so many different forms of cardiovascular activity and so many different theories that it can be confusing to determine the best method to drop unwanted pounds.
If, when you think of "cardio", you picture hours spent on a treadmill, watching TV or reading a magazine while waiting for the time to pass - then this piece is especially for you.
Forget the endless hours of cardio spent at a slow jog or a steady pace while watching the clock. Sure, that's going to inevitably burn calories but you certainly aren't maximizing your time and you're definitely leaving a lot of potential results on the proverbial table.
So, what kind of cardio do I recommend? HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING!
How does it work?
Get on the bike, elliptical or treadmill. Or if you don't want to be indoors on a stationary piece of equipment, use a jump-rope, perform medicine ball slams or box jumps.
Time a total of 15-20 minutes. Within that time-frame, alternate between 30 seconds of ALL-OUT, HARD AS YOU CAN, SPRINT STYLE work and 2 minutes of an easy pace (for medicine ball slams/jump rope/box jumps, I would recommend performing a light jog or some ab work in this time frame).
In 15-20 minutes, you're done!
Why is this better than spending an hour on the treadmill?
Unless your primary goal is to get better at running and long term endurance, spending long amounts of time doing steady state cardio can becatabolic (this bad! it means eating away at your muscle tissue!) and takes 3-4 times longer to burn the same, or less calories (remember 1lb of fat = 3,500 calories!).
Furthermore, High Intensity Interval Training has been shown to have a greater fat burning effect in the body over the next 12-24 hours.H.I.I.T. is also anabolic (this is good! it means building muscle!).
For the ultimate anecdotal comparison, look at the body of a sprinter versus a marathon runner. The former is low in body-fat and covered in lean muscle from training in high intensity intervals.
Now that you're done reading this, I'm sure that you can find 15-20 minutes in your day today to try out High Intensity Interval Training. Your body will thank you!