cardio jump rope

3 Best Cardio Methods for Burning Fat

If you want to burn fat and watch the pounds melt away, you need to get moving. Fat fuels every cardio routine, from walking to rowing. That said, different activities erase different amounts of fat, and if time is tight, it’s important to opt for workouts that maximize your burn. Here are three of the best cardio methods for eliminating fat.

1. HIIT

High-intensity interval training is all the rage right now — and with good reason. HIIT workouts are an excellent way to banish fat if you’re short on time and big on power. As its name suggests, a HIIT program consists of several super-short and extra-intense exercises. Each exercise typically uses your body weight to boost your heart rate and keep it elevated. (Think 30 seconds of deep lunges followed by 30 seconds of sit-ups.)

HIIT training kick-starts your metabolism and can keep it humming for up to two days after your workout's over, especially if you incorporate plyometrics, which most HIIT regimens do. Athletes at all levels of competition have long relied on plyometrics to increase their speed and strength. They include exercises such as the following:

  • Box jumps
  • Froggers
  • Jump squats
  • Burpees
  • Stair hops
  • Clapping push-ups
  • Star jumps

You don’t have to be a future NFL Hall of Famer to reap the plyometric HIIT rewards, though. According to a 2015 study, a three-week HIIT program that involved plyometrics yielded an even greater reduction in body fat and metabolic abnormalities than HIIT programs that did not include plyometrics.

Convenience is also central to HIIT training’s appeal. Because a typical session is 30 minutes or less, it’s easier to squeeze into your day than other cardio. While you can add weights if you want to, you don’t need to purchase any special equipment for a HIIT workout. Similarly, more and more gyms are adding HIIT classes to their schedule, but you can also fire up a HIIT app on your phone, nudge the couch back a few inches and start burning fat in your own living room.

2. Jumping Rope

Who would’ve thought that embracing your inner child — or perhaps your inner Sugar Ray Leonard — is one of the most effective ways to burn fat? Jumping rope can melt more than 1,000 calories per hour as it commands focus, strength, and skill.

Be forewarned that it can also take a toll on your joints. Part of why jumping rope burns through fat so fast is that it’s an extremely high-impact activity. Keep that in mind before you dust off your jump rope, and keep your skipping sessions enthusiastic but brief. Better still, cut joint pain off at the pass by adding a natural anti-inflammatory to your diet such as turmeric.

3. Swimming

If you want to lose weight without risking injury, hit the pool. Swimming burns roughly 600 calories per hour and is the lowest of low-impact cardio activities. Because it takes place entirely in the water, stress on your joints is minimal. Meanwhile, your entire body gets a workout as you complete lap after lap. As soon as you hit the deep end, gravity starts working against you — and forcing your major muscle groups to get moving.

To maximize fat loss, incorporate a variety of strokes into your pool session to vary the muscle groups being challenged. Barring that, opt for the freestyle stroke over the breaststroke, and the breaststroke over the butterfly.

When you’re ready to shed those extra pounds, choose the fat-burning cardio method that complements both your schedule and your fitness level. Going too hard, too fast can lead to injury. Stick with it and, no matter which type of activity you prefer, you can look forward to the improved overall health that comes with improving your cardiovascular fitness.

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