When it comes to reducing body fat, nothing is more effective than a cardiovascular fitness routine utilized in conjunction with the right fat loss diet. Unfortunately, most people have never been taught the most productive way to burn fat with cardiovascular fitness workouts. Before I move on, it is important to note that no matter how hard you workout at the gym to burn fat, you will not be able to successfully lose significant amounts of body fat without the proper fat loss nutrition plan. If you continue to consume more calories than your body is burning, you will not be able to lose noticeable amounts of body fat, period! I have provided all of the information you will need to follow an effective fat loss diet on another page on my site. Back to the focus of this page - reducing body fat with a cardiovascular fitness routine -in case you forgot. Click on the links below to see some great ideas for effective cardiovascular fitness exercises.
The general answer to this question is pretty simple; the more days per week you dedicate to cardiovascular fitness, the more fat you will burn. Those who have the desire to lose a large percentage of body fat will obviously need to perform cardio workouts more frequently than someone with 7% body fat who just wants to maintain their current body fat levels.
If you are unsure how many days per week you should be dedicating to fat burning cardio, I have put together a chart below and have provided the number of days that should be dedicated to cardio workouts for several scenarios. All you need to do is identify which scenario best fits your current body type (the top row) and which scenario best matches your goal body type (the left column) to determine how many days per week you should perform cardio workouts. Keep in mind that this cardiovascular fitness chart is just a general set of guidelines and that each person's body is not the same.
Before abandoning this guideline, be sure that you are not setting unrealistic goals for yourself. It is a common misconception that doing hours and hours of calorie burning activities are necessary to lose weight and burn fat.
On the contrary, the goal of your aerobic exercise is not to burn calories, but to encourage your body to use its fat storage for energy instead of muscle cells or consumed carbohydrates.
The human body will naturally turn to carbohydrates as its main energy source in order to save your fat storage in case you have to go an extended amount of time without food.
Consistent aerobic exercise forces your body to turn to a greater percentage of its fat cells for energy during and in between your workouts. By participating in consistent aerobic activities, your body will gradually increase the amount of fat that it naturally burns.
If your cardio workouts are mostly just burning away carbohydrates in your system, you will never see a significant decrease in body fat. Now that I have briefly explained that the goal of aerobic activity is to change your body's natural tendency away from storing fat, and not just to burn calories, I will answer the question of how long your cardio sessions should last. After 30 minutes of maintaining an increased heart rate, your body will have expended enough consistent energy to encourage an increase in fat burning. Consequently, your cardio workouts should consist of maintaining your heart rate in the desired range for approximately 30 minutes.
I will explain what your desired heart rate range should be for your aerobic workouts in section 4 below. Do not think that you must be on a treadmill for hours every day to burn vast amounts of fat. The great part is that by maintaining consistency in your cardio program, you will increase your metabolism, and your body will more efficiently burn fat even when you aren't working out. As explained in the section above, the goal of your aerobic workouts is simply to maintain an increased heart rate for 30 minutes. Some of the most popular aerobic exercise machines are treadmills, elliptical machines, stair steppers, rowing machines, and ski machines. Any of these methods are perfectly acceptable as long as your heart rate is elevated in the desired range for 30 minutes. In order to maximize the fat burning potential of your cardiovascular fitness workouts, you should maintain your heart rate at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate for 30 minutes. This heart rate range will ensure that you are burning significant amounts of calories and fat by keeping your body below a more intense activity level that would encourage the use of carbs for energy as opposed to fat. The human body naturally tends to use carbohydrates for energy during intense physical activity. By maintaining your heart rate at 70-80% of its calculated maximum, you are holding to a moderate level of intensity that will ensure that you are burning the most amount of fat possible by forcing your body to use fat as its primary source of energy.
To determine your maximum heart rate, you simply take 220 and subtract your age from it. To determine the lower limit of your heart rate range (70% of the maximum) simply multiply your maximum heart rate by 0.7.
So a 20 year old would want to maintain their heart rate in the range of 140-160 beats per minute for 30 minutes during their aerobic workouts. There are several methods which can be used to monitor your heart rate during your aerobic workouts. If you choose to do an exercise that does not utilize a machine with built in sensors, I recommend purchasing a heart rate monitor. I would try to avoid checking your pulse to determine your heart rate whenever possible because it can be inconvenient to stop your exercise and look at the clock while counting your heartbeats before finally returning to your workout. While performing your cardio workouts at any time is certainly better than not doing them at all, there are certain times throughout the day at which your body will be much more efficient at burning fat. As I mentioned above, the body is most efficient at burning fat when it has to rely on it as its main source of energy. The best times to perform your 30 minute cardiovascular fitness exercise is when there are the least amount of carbohydrates present in your body.
Because of this principle, the optimum time to perform your cardio exercise is in the morning just after waking up - before eating anything.
The next best time to perform your cardio workout will be immediately after your weight training session. You will use up the majority of the carbohydrates present in your body during your weight training session which will force your body to turn to fat cells for fuel when your aerobic exercise is performed immediately following a weight training session.
The third best time to perform your cardio exercises will be at least 2 hours after you have eaten. By waiting at least 2 hours after eating, you are ensuring that your body has used most of the carbohydrates you consumed during your last meal and will maximize the amount of fat that will be burned while performing the aerobic activity of your choice. By utilizing the 5 principles explained above, you will be able to effectively use cardiovascular fitness workouts to lose significant amounts of body fat.
Feel free to adjust the schedule to meet your personal needs (for example, rest on Wednesdays instead of Sundays or reduce the number of weekly workouts if you're a fitness newbie).
Unfortunately, going to the gym, and working out properly to get good results, are two different things. I put together a basic Coach Rollie, Fat X 101 type workout that you can do at your gym with basic fitness equipment.
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