What are considered the best methods of aerobic exercise in order to burn body fat fast? Below we will explore different types of cardio activity and what benefits they have to offer for losing weight and burning fat fast.
As we all know losing stubborn body fat & getting ourselves into good shape requires us to perform some form of aerobic/cardio activity in order to get our heart pumping and muscles moving. There are a wide range of different cardio activities we can do in order to achieve this and remove excess weight which will reveal our hard earned muscles.
The real question you all want to know is what are the best methods of aerobic/cardio exercise? Is there a specific way to lose fat through cardiovascular means? If there is then what is the best way to achieve this? The act of performing aerobic activity by its very nature will require fat to be broken down and used as a primary fuel source, with proteins & carbohydrates being required to a lesser extent. Therefore you do not need to be a brain surgeon to work out that in order to lose fat you will be required to carry out some degree of aerobic work in order to reduce your overall body fat.
That said, the type of aerobic exercise needed for fat loss is open to much debate and discussion within the health & fitness community. Aerobic activities which are usually carried out at a moderate intensity & higher intensity aerobics have been shown burn more calories and this is what we would class as an aerobic activity. The definition of what we call aerobic activity is moving the body in a way that will engage the heart & lungs to use additional oxygen as fuel in order to maintain the activity you are doing for a least a period of 20 minutes or longer.
Aerobic activities are not limited to but can include:
The great thing about these activities is that they all recruit a large amount of the different muscles groups which means you are maximising the muscle activation and fat burning properties across the whole body. With aerobic exercise, oxygen, fats and carbohydrates combine to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is the basic fuel source for all cells.
Fat is a more efficient fuel source for aerobic activity which is why the body has greater fat stores (as these are easily converted to energy with the presence of oxygen) compared to carbohydrates or proteins.
Aerobic activity done at a moderate intensity 50-75 percent of Maximal Heart Rate [MHR], or within the mythological fat burning zone appears to burn more actual fat, but does this lead to greater fat losses over the longer term? The jury is still out on this!
It is believed that exercising aerobically at a higher percentage of MHR 75% or more will burn far more total calories which they believe will add up to greater fat losses in total. In order to calculate your Max Heart Rate all you need to do is subtract your age from 220 e.g. if I am 38 years old my MHR would be 182.
I am in no way saying that low-intensity aerobics are worthless. As explained later, they do have their place. However, if the aim is to burn the largest degree of body fat in the shortest amount of time then higher intensity aerobics would seem to be the best choice in order to achieve this. Let’s look now and see the benefits of high intensity versus low intensity aerobics.
Aerobic Exercise Benefits
As said previously all forms of aerobic training will provide many similar benefits, while high intensity and low intensity methods have benefits which are specific to their own respective functions.
In order to determine the exact intensity required to benefit from a specific aerobic method it is important to calculate the lower and higher end target heart rates (THR). The low end of the target zone should be around 55% of your MHR & the high end of the target zone should be 80% of your MHR.
All aerobic exercise (regardless of what level of intensity is used) will help to:
Strengthen muscles involved in respiration and assist lung function.
Strengthen the heart which will improve the resting heart rate and pumping efficiency.
Reduce stress and tension in the body and increase your mental/emotional well-being.
Increased improvement in circulation throughout all areas of the body.
Increased total number of red blood cells in the body which enable greater oxygen facilitation throughout the body.
Low to moderate intensity aerobic activity (50-75 percent of MHR) will:
Will provide less impact on bones & joints which make it ideal for people who are obese or unfit.
Burn fat directly rather than relying on total calories burned and the activity can also be done for a longer period of time.
Could be used as an active recovery from other intensive training programs.
Higher intensity aerobic activity (70-85 percent of MHR) will:
Will burn more total calories which should result in burning more fat overall.
Will increase the metabolic rate both during and after working out to a greater degree than it would with lower intensity aerobics.
Offers other health & fitness benefits such as improved endurance, strength, and athletic performance.
The keys to choosing a good aerobic activity include finding one that is enjoyable and effective to ensure it is used consistently to good effect.
1. Walking (Burns 300-400 Calories per hour)
Many years ago this was thought of as a perfect aerobic exercise for fat burning and overall health. It is now considered one of the least effective of the aerobic methods.
Walking is however great for beginners or those with injuries or are obese. Although walking probably is not the best form of exercise for losing weight and achieving fitness it is a much lower type of intensity compared to other methods and still has its place as a good starting place in getting fit.
To put this into context 15 minutes of cycling burns the equivalent calories as 45 minutes or moderate intensity walking.
The metabolism will increase on average for only one/two hours after walking whereas with higher intensity aerobic activity it can be increased for up to 24 hours or longer.
Walking can be used for the following purposes:
Assisting with fat burning in the obese (who can't use other methods).
As a low impact activity for people with injuries.
As a build up to a higher intensity method of aerobics.
2. Running (Burns Around 600 Calories per hour)
This is a higher intensity activity compared to walking and is seen as an efficient way to lose body fat and improve cardio-respiratory fitness.
The benefit of running for weight & fat loss purposes is that it is of a high enough intensity to burn a greater number of calories as well as stimulating the metabolic rate for a longer period afterward and hence burning more calories.
In order to maximise the fat burning properties of running/jogging you need to ensure that you keep your heart rate within the fat burning zone or you will end up burning carbohydrates rather than fat. Running also recruits arms and therefore provides additional calorie burning due to increased muscle groups being used.
Running can be used for the following purposes:
Training aerobically at a higher intensity burns more fat & calories as a result.
To recruits muscles the legs which should add definition and enhance muscle definition.
Improves fitness and athletic performance.
Increases metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after workout.
3. Cycling (Burns Around 600 Calories per hour)
Cycling involves the same muscles as does running, but has the added advantage of being lower impact, therefore making it ideal for virtually anyone regardless of level of fitness or age.
It can be done on either a stationary bike which is usually the preferred option for those wanting to specifically burn body fat or out on the road which may not suit everyone.
Cycling is also ideal for HIIT (which we will come onto later) as the resistance can be changed from lower to higher in the blink of an eye so it is easy to change from minute to minute to really get the heart and lungs pumping.
Cycling as an aerobic activity is great for the following reasons:
Is a low impact & high intensity way to melt body fat.
A great way to improve fitness and athletic performance.
As a way to develop strong shapely legs.
4. Rowing (Burns Around 840 Calories per hour)
Rowing on a rowing machine provides a great overall body workout as well as being a great high intensity activity for melting away body fat. It could be considered the best exercise as it works all of the main muscles groups of the body at a higher intensity than walking and far lower impact than running and also burns far more calories per hour than any of the above mentioned exercises at (around 840 per hour).
Rowing as an aerobic activity can be useful for the following reasons:
Burns a higher number of calories than any of the other common aerobic methods.
Is a total body workout and great for building lean muscle.
A low impact & high intensity way to improve your fitness and burn fat.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a very effective way to burn body fat and destroy calories. As most will know HIIT provides an intensive aerobic option that only takes a fraction of the time to complete compared to most of the other more traditional cardio methods.
As you may have gathered from the name, HIIT incorporates both high intensity works with a very high intensity component for short periods of time in order to maximise fat burning effect and also provides an increased metabolic rate that can last for over 24 hours after training in some cases.
Regular aerobic training (although beneficial for fat burning) can place the body into a steady state in that the same pace is maintained throughout. This means the body has adjusted itself to the speed it is going and will try to conserve calories. With HIIT the body cannot do this as the intensity is changing every few minutes which means it is not able to conserve calories.
A HIIT workout may look like this:
If we used cycling as an aerobic activity to use for HITT then you would work at a moderate to high intensity pace (70-75 percent of MHR) for two minutes, then quickly change the intensity rate significantly (over 90 percent of MHR) for 30 seconds to one minute and then reduce it back down to what it was before. Repeat this process for up to 30 minutes (2 mins at 70-75% of MHR & then 30 seconds at 90% MHR). Running or rowing are also methods that can be used in a similar context with HIIT.
HIIT is great for:
Raising fat burning hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, allowing for greater calorie consumption.
Suppressing insulin levels.
Raising the metabolic rate far more than other cardio activities.
Provides a great way to increase overall fitness and sporting performance.
Hydration, hydration, hydration!
Given aerobic training causes a great deal of fluid to be lost through sweat and body heat, it is important to drink water before, during (depending on the duration of training) and after exercising. Training aerobically without sufficient water intake (especially in the heat) may lead to dehydration and a reduction in performance so keep hydrated at all times.
Water is also required to transport required nutrients around the body while working out, so if you want to maximise calorie consumption and fat burning hydration is a must or you will be wasting some of your hard earned efforts.