The Best Cardio for Fat Loss

Let’s talk about your best cardio for fat loss.  Now let’s remove the best, because in fitness, we find there is no one size fits all and there is no best diet, no best exercise program, no best gym…There is only the quest to learn more and understand how to use it to make it work for you.

Last week I wrote about the different between weight loss and fat loss.  If you didn’t get a chance to check it out, you can find that article here.

This time I want to talk about fat loss only, and why it’s the right move for probably 75% of you reading this…

Why Fat Loss Should Be Your Main Focus

Odds are if you’re reading this, you don’t find yourself in a situation where your “weight” is causing medical problems.  You are most likely just at a point where you are “heavier” than before, clothes are fitting a little tighter, or you have some expectations about the way you should look.

First let me address the issue of weight:

Weight sucks.  It is a number that has little to no meaning in everyday life.  Unless you have orders from your doctor to lose weight, I do not suggest paying any attention to the scale and wouldn’t be mad if most people threw theirs away right now.

Secondly I would like to address the concept of muscle mass and fat mass.  The difference in density of muscle mass to that of fat mass is about 4:5.  So you can see that if you compared two people of similar weight and height with different percentages of body fat, you would find two very different sized individuals.

Muscle vs. Fat

The idea of changing your body composition, specifically the ratio of fat to lean body mass (muscle, bone, connective tissue) can be done without the scale ever changing, or changing very little.

How To Achieve Fat Loss

As you will have learned from my previous post or general research into fat loss, you know that fat loss excels with weight training and high intensity interval exercise (HIIE), requires a caloric deficit, and requires discipline over time.

Best Strength Training and Best Cardio for Fat Loss

The training side of fat loss is a little complicated. Enter the training professional.

2 Factors for Fat Loss:

  1. Cardio: Believe it or not, there is a best cardio for fat loss: High Intensity Interval Exercise (HIIE). This is a form of exercise that is characterized by periods of high intensity (sprints) followed by equal or slightly longer periods of rest/active recovery. This method of exercise can be done using a variety of tools. Because of it’s brevity, acute and chronic responses, and positive outcomes for fat loss, HIIE should be a primary choice for all fat loss candidates (Boutcher, 2010).  A typical example would be a 10 second all out sprint, followed by a 20-30 second recovery jog, for 8-10 rounds.
  2. Strength training: or weight training, same thing, will always be your most effective way to build muscle. There are many styles of strength training. Powerlifting, weightlifting and bodybuilding are three common examples of strength training.  Each trainer will have a preferred style, but there is no right or wrong here.  Each style has shown to have benefits.

Progressive overload

While both of these can get you started on your fat loss journey, the thing that will become the most effective decider in your success will be progressive overload, which is the concept that as the body adapts to the stress/demands placed on it, the individual must then change the stress.  Not to be confused with “muscle confusion” which is a term coined by lazy trainers with no education or programming ability, progressive overload is the idea of intentionally adding stimulus to your training.

Nutrition for Fat Loss

While there may be a best cardio for fat loss, the same is not nearly true for nutrition.  Many “experts” will tell you that fat loss can only happen with a keto diet, a paleo diet, a low carb diet, a vegan diet, etc. While there are many approaches that can be and often are effective, my point here is that not any single one is correct or “right”. It is simply a matter of which diet or which nutrition plan you can maintain. The “right” one is the one you can feasibly stick to long-term.

Discipline for Fat Loss

Fat loss requires your perspective to shift away from the traditional focus on the scale (i.e. weight) and onto other things.

  • Body fat – can be found using fancy tools or skinfold measurements.
  • Inches – a very good reflection of fat loss is found in body measurements.
  • Performance – are you feeling more athletic, defined, agile, or mobile.

While it seems counter-intuitive, fat loss is best determined by these factors and NOT by the scale.  Like I said earlier, fat and muscle have different densities, meaning the same mass (weight) of muscle and fat have very different sizes.  So during your fat loss you should not judge your progress based on the scale, but instead by all of the 3 factors listed above.

^^This part is very important and is the main thing that discourages people from sticking to their fat loss program!

Wrap It Up:

With fat loss as the goal, just remember that you will first need a perspective shift in terms of HOW you see your results.  Dump the scale.  Dump it.  It sucks.  Proper focus on your nutrition, strength training, performing HIIE, and progressive overload will give you the results you’re looking for if you remain consistent and disciplined.

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