What is the Best Cardio for Fat Loss? (Top 3 + Example Workouts)

Oh, cardio. Some love it, most hate it. But, let’s face it, when it comes to losing fat fast, cardio is king.

Before we jump in to which cardio is best for fat loss, I want to quickly answer one common question:

Do I have to do cardio to lose weight?

No. Cardio is not necessary.

In fact, the only thing that is necessary to lose weight, is to eat less calories than you burn.

This is what’s referred to as a caloric deficit.

That being said, doing cardio burns a lot of calories and therefore helps put you in a deficit, which helps you lose fat faster.

And.. Voilà – You’ll have abs!

With that out of the way..

There a TON of different kinds of cardio.

Anything that gets your heart rate up and has you breathing heavy is technically cardio.

That means everything from running to helping a friend move out of an apartment can be considered cardio.

That doesn’t mean all forms of cardio are created equal though.

Because we hate cardio, but love burning fat, we want the best cardio for fat loss that can be done in the least amount of time – to get that crap over with!

What types of cardio burn fat the fastest?


If I could recommend only one type of cardio for fat loss, HIIT would be it. (No rhyme intended.)

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It’s crazy popular, because it burns fat like crazy in about half the time as a LISS workout.

LISS (or – Low Intensity Steady State) cardio. For example, jogging at a moderate pace and keeping that pace for the entire run.

HIIT isn’t a specific workout, it’s a way of doing any exercise.

The HIIT style workout is becoming insanely popular.. and for good reason!

What’s so great about HIIT?

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It has been proven to continue to burn additional calories after the workout has ended.

HIIT workouts, if done right, can burn the same amount of calories in 15 minutes as you would burn during a light jog twice as long.

How do you do a HIIT workout?

The way it works is through intervals, for example, 30 seconds intervals..

For 30 seconds, you will give it your all out effort. This is called your work interval.

What counts as all out effort? I’m talking can’t hold a conversation, can barely speak effort.

Then, for the next 30 seconds, you’ll slow it down to a lighter pace – but not a complete stop!

This is called your ‘rest’ interval, even though you aren’t completely stopping to rest – it’s an active rest.

You’ll go back and forth doing that for the entire set workout time, usually 10-30 minutes max.

30 seconds is just an example. The intervals can vary quite a bit, but they should be relatively short.

For example, you could do 45 seconds work, 60 seconds rest.

This means that HIIT workouts can be used with any exercise you want.

You can convert any workout to a HIIT workout by implementing these work and rest intervals – running, biking, swimming, jump rope, dancing, etc.

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You can even do a HIIT walking workout. The important thing is that your work interval is your all-out effort for you.

For a HIIT walking workout, you could walk at a faster pace or uphill at an incline to make it more difficult.

For even more about HIIT and some example workouts to try, check out my HIIT workout for beginners post here!

2. Fasted Cardio

When I’m really in a crunch and need to burn fat FAST (I compete a lot and need to reach goal weights by a certain date) I always start adding in fasted cardio.

Fasted cardio is any cardio done when your body is in a fasted state – aka no longer processing or digesting foods.

Doing cardio while in a fasted state can lose up to 20% more fat.

It can be a great fat burning type of cardio when done right.

That being said, you need to be careful when doing it and not do too much.

Overdoing cardio while in a fastested state can lead to lightheadedness, causing your body to go into ‘starvation mode’ where it tries to burn less calories, or using your muscle as fuel instead of your fat.

3. Plyometrics

Plyometrics, also called plyos for short, are any movement that first extends the muscle and then quick contracts it back in.

Best at home cardio for fat loss for women
Credit: https://giphy.com/search/box-jumps

Plyos are great for building power, speed, explosiveness… oh and.. they’re a great form of cardio for fast fat loss!

Because these types of movements get your whole body involved, will help you to not only lose weight, but to tone your muscle and improve your cardio as well.

The other great thing about plyos is that they usually require little to no equipment, so they’re perfect for at home workouts.

Box jumps and burpees are some examples of plyo movements (if you’re unsure what they are, a quick search on YouTube will have tons of great results showing proper form):

The Trifecta.

Notice that each type of cardio for fat loss is just a way to workout, and not a specific workout in and of itself?

That means all three can be COMBINED for the ultimate cardio workout for fat loss!

Yes, you can do a fasted, HIIT, plyo workout.. And it will help you lose fat like crazy!

If you guessed that before I said it, you get a cookie!

Wait.. no.. we’re trying to burn fat here.. Erm, you get a healthy protein kale cookie!

(is that even a thing?)

Any way, as far as how to combine these for the ultimate fat burning workout, checkout the example workouts below.

Example Workouts

1. Example HIIT Treadmill Workout

Run at maximum pace for 30 seconds, walk at moderate pace for 30 seconds. Repeat until 10 minutes is up.

2. Example Fasted Cardio Workout.

Jog for 30 minutes at a steady, moderate pace.

3. Example Plyo Workout at Home

20 reps of each exercise:

  • Box jumps
  • Mountain climbers
  • Burpees
  • Knee Tucks
  • Jump Squats
  • Jump lunges
  • Skater hops
  • Clapping pushups

4. Example (Home or Gym) Total Body Fasted HIIT Plyo Workout

Boy that’s a mouth full!

First thing in the morning, before you have your breakfast (you can have black coffee if you’re like me and a zombie in the morning) do this workout:

Do each exercise at your maximum pace for 30 seconds. Take a 15 second break in between exercises:

  • Box jumps
  • Mountain climbers
  • Burpees
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Jump Squats
  • Jump lunges
  • Skater hops
  • Russian Twists

Repeat this circuit 3 times total. Take a 1 minute break between rounds.

That’s 8 exercises, 45 total for each exercise + rest, plus 1 minute rest between rounds – done 3 times = 20 minutes.

You. Can. Do. It!

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