15 Best Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss (From a Trainer)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: December 2, 2023
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Cardio workouts have become phenomenal for losing weight. But how you can leverage them for faster fat loss may spark your interest.

Besides rethinking your diet and increasing your supplements, cardio might be what you need to get the best results.

So, we made all the guesswork and came up with 15 fat-burning workouts and everything you need to know to choose one or craft a mix for you. So, let’s dive right in.

Can Cardio Burn Fat?

woman thinking with her hands pointing to her head while holding a weighing scale

Yes. Cardio can burn fat. Cardio activity can be defined as any movement that increases your heart and breathing activity.

It may be termed aerobic exercise because it requires oxygen to maintain your body's ability to perform and keep up at a specific time.

This type of workout may be the most effective to sustain weight loss as it focuses on a target heart rate or THR (which depends on age and weight).

When you exercise at a target heart rate, it will allow your body to burn more fat. It may range from 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate or MHR [1].

Knowing your MHR or the upper limit of what your heart can handle during physical activity [2] can help you get your THR.

Studies also show that cardio can regulate appetite hormones and boost metabolism.

When you eat, your body stores calories that may be different from how other bodies store fat. It results in how our genetics work and our hormones, age, physique, and lifestyle.

You can check out more in our article about can cardio help with weight loss.

Health Benefits of Cardio

Cardio has other health benefits, which include:

  • Mood booster to fight depression and stress
  • Risk reduction of heart diseases by improving blood circulation
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Improves brain activity
  • Controls blood sugar level

Does Cardio Intensity Influence Fat Burning?

woman pulling her loose denim pants to show her flat belly

Yes, cardio intensity influences fat burn, and here's how it works.

You may expect that a high-intensity workout can burn you more calories than other cardio intensities.

But, research suggests that having a mix of cardio to burn fat can help you employ the three energy systems of your body to structure fun, creative, and safe workouts (3).

Creating a personal cardio program that includes cardio-burning techniques at different intensities can help you strip off body fat.

There are light to vigorous workouts. They can be classified as low, moderate, and high-intensity exercises.

The NHS suggests adults aged 19-64 have physical activity every day. It also recommends having at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity workout per week [4].

Related Articles:

Low-Intensity Cardio Workouts

two ladies doing warm up exercises outdoors

This cardio workout is recommended for beginners and people with physical limitations because it doesn't challenge much.

It can also help obese people to drop extra pounds as well. In addition, it only requires a THR of below 50 percent of your MHR.

Doing low-intensity cardio involves slow-moving and light activities such as taking a walk, gardening, jogging, or a simple stretching routine. It is usually done in a longer duration compared to other cardio intensities.

You can aim for 60 minutes of low-intensity cardio workout five days a week and gradually adjust the intensity of workouts by carrying weights or adding another routine.

Here are some examples of low-intensity cardio:



Walking is a simple, cost-effective way to burn fat and improve body composition without posing much stress on the body.

This free cardio fitness regimen can improve mobility and movement flexibility.

You can start with 15 minutes a day if you're a beginner, then climb up to 30 and 45 to 60 minutes a day.

Jogging in Place

Jogging in Place

Jogging in place is a convenient and effective exercise to burn calories and pump up your heart rate.

You can start with 10 minutes of bouncing lightly from one foot to another, then gradually building up the duration to 15 or 20 minutes.

Low-Impact Jumping Jacks

Low-Impact Jumping Jacks

Low impact jumping jacks are like regular jumping jacks minus the jumping.

To start, step out your right foot while bringing your arms over your head, keeping your weight on the extended foot.

Stand back to the starting position, then switch to your left foot. You can extend your arm movements further to get your heart pumping and burning calories.

Single-Leg Stand

Single Leg Stand

Single-Leg Stand is a low-intensity cardio workout that can effectively burn fat.

Standing burns about 30 to 50 calories per hour more than sitting [5]. And standing on one leg increases the charge and may burn another 20 to 30 more calories on top of the regular calorie burn.

You can maintain this position for more than 20 seconds or take the lift higher to increase difficulty.

Arm Circles

Arm Circles

Arm circling is another low-intensity cardio with a low-calorie burn.

Again, you can do this in a seated position, but doing it from the standing position may increase the calorie burn.

It may be acting upon a limited group of muscles, but devoting more time and repetitions to the exercise can increase the fat burn.

Moderate Intensity Cardio Workouts

shirtless man in a gym jumping rope

The American Heart Association suggests a THR of about 50-70 percent MHR during moderate-intensity activities [6].

Working at moderate-intensity cardio several times a week may be beneficial for people who aim to lose fat and take care of their heart as well. It involves medium-paced light activities such as brisk walking, cycling at a medium pace, and hiking.

You can also do a 30 to 45-minute cardio machine workout.

Moderate intensity Cardio offers some advantages, which includes: 

  • Improving general health by lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension
  • It enables you to work out regularly for a more extended period because it has less impact on the body.
  • It gives a variety of choices compared to other cardio intensity workouts.

Here are some examples of moderate-intensity cardio:


Woman doing lunges

Basic lunge can work as moderate-intensity cardio by giving medium effort to get your heart pumping.

It kickstarts your metabolism and works on large muscle tissue groups in your lower body to enable you to burn excess calories and reduce body fat.


box step up

Step-ups is a classic fat-trimming cardio workout, and adjusting the intensity level of this exercise is easy.

You can either put the step on the floor to lower the intensity or raise the step higher to increase it.

Step-ups are joint-friendly, boost heart health, and strengthen muscles while reducing body fat.

Jumping Rope


Skipping with jumping ropes is considered a moderate-intensity cardio activity.

Adjusting your jump speed makes all the difference. As you jump faster, your heart rate and breathing will follow.

Some people consider jumping with ropes as the best way to burn fat.

You can jump rope for 30 minutes straight or jump as fast as you can for one minute. It's definitely up to you.

Finding your breath in between your jumps can guide you to reduce fat tissue effectively.

Stair Climber

Stair Climber-Ladder Machine

A stair climber is another moderate-intensity cardio that can help you burn fat.

However, like climbing stairs that use more muscles than walking, stair climbers can add more pressure on your joints, making it harder for people with weak knees.

Doing stair climbers every day can burn calories, about 65 in 15 minutes [7].

You can up the intensity to burn more calories by going faster or carrying heavy items.



An elliptical or cross-trainer is a low to moderate aerobic exercise to blast those fats off.

Depending on your ability level, you can increase the resistance to get a higher intensity workout.

Elliptical machines can be an excellent way to burn fat and excess calories without wearing out your joints.

In addition, you can up the intensity by adding a high incline to challenge more muscle growth in your legs and glutes.

Related: Do Ellipticals Burn Belly Fat?

High-Intensity Cardio Workouts

man in a push up position

High-Intensity Cardio is all about exercising at a fast pace. This vigorous activity requires a THR of about 70-85 percent MHR.

This level of exercise feels so challenging that it can leave you breathless even to talk straight.

Exercising at a higher percentage of MHR appears to burn higher calories, which results in faster weight loss.

For effective calorie burn, intensity is king. The greater the intensity, the more calories can get burned. That's why a high-intensity cardio workout is a great choice to get trimmed for a shorter timeline.

High-intensity Cardio offers impressive benefits. They can be helpful for faster weight loss as well as improving endurance, strength, and respiratory capacity. It may also help to boost your metabolism.

However, doing several high-intensity cardio at a time may lead to some health risks. Since the workout intensity is high, you might experience burnout which may lead to inconsistencies. It may also bring about overstraining muscles and overuse of joints that may lead to some injuries.

So, if you're doing several days of high-intensity cardio per week, you might want to consider just having one or two workouts. Then, you can leverage other cardio intensities to maintain endurance while allowing your body to recover.

Here are some examples of high-intensity Cardio:

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

shirtless man doing HIIT rope workout

High-Intensity Interval Training is a popular workout with a combination of quick, vigorous bursts of cardio exercise followed by equal or more extended rest periods.

It can burn calories for hours even after the workout. So it is practical if you're short on time.

In addition, the intense burst of activities elevates your heart and guarantees calorie burn and fat loss.

It is apparent that HIIT workouts burn fat and one good point is you can mix it with other weight training workouts, so you get a good cardio and build muscle mass simultaneously.

Related: HIIT vs Cardio



Burpees are high-intensity cardio with a combination of squats, jumps, and pushes. These exercises may help you burn fat faster if done regularly.

Burpees are excellent fat-blasting cardio that also helps strengthen muscles and boost metabolism.

It utilizes full-body movements that target overall body fat, making it one of the most effective cardio to get your heart pumping and burn calories even after the workout.

You can up the difficulty by using special exercise equipment like Bosu ball and Medicine ball.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are a high-intensity exercise mix of cardio and muscle training.

It is an advanced full-body exercise that has the power of burning fat in no time.

It helps in building perfectly sculpted abdominals and tones your butt and thigh muscles.



Inchworm is often a part of HIIT workouts that increase strength and improve flexibility and mobility in the body.

This move requires no equipment and uses different muscle groups to work on your core, arms, and chest simultaneously to burn more calories.

In addition, you can maximize this exercise by leveling up your movement speed which helps pump your heart rate up even more.

Bear Crawl

Bear Crawl

The bear crawl is a full-body all-in-one exercise that challenges your core.

It is a high-intensity cardio that works on all major muscle groups to sure-fire way to lose weight.

In addition, it can strengthen muscles and fire up your metabolism to blast those body fats.

Practical Tips to Stay Fueled in Cardio Workouts

phone, watch dumbbells, notebook and a measuring tape in a table, and a man holding up a bag of vegetables and fruits and a thumbs up
  • Get a Consistent Workout Schedule.  - Planning a total body workout schedule at the same time every day can help you develop a more consistent attitude towards your exercise regimen.
  • Maximize Ordinary Circumstances.  - You can use some extra walking time at the mall or in the park or add a little more activity into your regular routines to keep you physically active.
  • Split Exercise Sessions.  - You can plan two to three smaller workouts or physical activities in a day. It can be as simple as doing a 20-minute jumping rope in the morning, a 20-minute walk later in the day, and another 20 minute cardio after dinner.  The key is just giving time to exercise to stay fueled throughout the day.
  • Keep Up the Energy with Foods.  - You may take some pre-workout snacks like protein bars, trail mixes, bananas, and peanut butter biscuits to stay fueled. However, it is not recommended to eat heavily before working out. To improve your exercise performance, check out our article to learn what to eat before a cardio workout.
  • Aim to Get Plenty of Sleep. - Having enough sleep the night before exercising can help you boost your endurance and keep you from being quickly exhausted.  In addition, you can get a more enjoyable and functional workout if you have a positive mood from a sound sleep.


How Much Running to Lose Weight?

The amount of running needed to lose weight varies depending on several factors, including your current weight, diet, and metabolism. However, a general guideline is that you need to create a calorie deficit of approximately 500 calories per day to lose about 1 pound of weight per week, which is a safe and sustainable rate.

Is Cardio Important to Lose Belly Fat?

Cardio can be important to lose belly fat. Cardio helps create a calorie deficit, burning calories and promoting overall fat loss, including fat stored in the abdominal area. However, it's essential to combine cardio with a balanced diet and other forms of exercise, such as strength training, for maximum results.

Can You Use HIIT Cardio Workout for Fat Loss?

Yes, you can use HIIT cardio workout for fat loss. HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest or low-intensity periods, boosting metabolism and burning a significant amount of calories in a short time.


  1. https://uihc.org/health-topics/target-heart-rate-exercise
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise-intensity/art-20046887
  3. https://www.fightforhearts.org/news/2019/9/5/leoan81zmx10af3chudyxermqplklc
  4. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/
  5. https://www.glamour.com/story/do-this-super-simple-move-to-
  6. b#:~:text=The%20real%20move%3A%20stand%20on,muscles%20and%20improving%20your%20balance.
  7. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/target-heart-rates
  8. https://captaincalculator.com/health/calorie/calories-burned-stairs-calculator/
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