What’s the BEST Cardio for Fat Loss?

What’s the BEST Cardio for Fat Loss?

The cardio question has been debated in every possible direction and there are pros and cons to virtually every point of view.

The hot topic in the fitness media these days is to do high intensity cardio workouts (HIT or HIIT). The experts will reason that the more effort that’s exerted, the more calories will be burned, and thus more total fat loss.

And they are absolutely right…

But what if your exercise routine consists of more than just cardio?

A lot of people like to perform both weight training AND cardio as part of their exercise routine, and this changes everything. When you combine different forms of exercise (i.e. weight training & cardio) you need to find an ideal balance between the 2 to allow for adequate recovery.

Combining Cardio & Weight TrainingMost Bodybuilders Combine Both Cardio AND Weight Training

For guys who are primarily interested in gaining muscle with a secondary goal of losing bodyfat (i.e. bodybuilders). Than weight training should take priority over cardio. For the average guy (or gal) the single best way to make the most dramatic physical improvements to your body is gaining muscle through weight training.

Weight Training Should Take Priority Over Cardio…

The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be, and the more calories you’ll burn. Plus it will fill out your frame with shape and curves in all the right places. If I were limited to just one form of exercise, I would choose weight training hands down.

But this doesn’t mean that cardio doesn’t have it’s place. Lower intensity cardio workouts can be a great supplement to high intensity weight training workouts to aid with fat loss.

Watch the video below for more info…

Note: if you can’t watch the embedded video clip above,
you can watch it right on my YouTube Channel by Clicking Here

If you bust your butt in the gym and give it 100% with a high intensity weight training workout, you’re NOT going to have the desire or the energy to follow that up with another high intensity cardio workout afterwards. However, you could do some low intensity exercise like brisk walking or light jogging.

Doing lower intensity cardio workouts can serve as “Active Recovery” from your weight training workouts. They can keep your body moving, circulate blood flow, and increase fat burning without breaking you down or exhausting your recovery abilities.

A lot of top level competitive bodybuilders use this strategy for getting lean. They’ll perform high intensity weight training workouts for muscle growth, supplemented with lower intensity cardio workouts for fat loss.

Think of cardio as a fat loss supplement to go along with weight training…

If they were to try and perform high intensity weight training AND high intensity cardio eventually this will lead to burn out and over training. Our recovery abilities are limited, so for physique enhancement and muscle building, your main priority should be weight training. Cardiovascular exercise should only be thought of as a supplementary form of exercise to help speed up fat loss.

Now with all that being said this doesn’t mean that you can’t occasionally do high intensity cardio workouts or activities. It’s totally fine to change things up every now and then by running sprints, playing sports, going for an intense mountain bike ride, or whatever.

But for the majority of your regular workouts you should place the main emphasis on weight training for building muscle, and supplement that with lower intensity cardio for fat loss.

What is your favorite form of cardio?
Please let me know in the comments below…

About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you... lee@leehayward.com


  • Qasim

    Great tip brother…

  • Chee Chean Syze

    Thanks so much, Lee…you’ve been a great help since I watched your videos and read your articles…simply awesome!! Thanks again and cheers.

  • Renee

    I do both. I have always loved the way weights can redefine my body shape. I learned this years ago. I used to to so many classes and then saw the potential for weight training. I had been doing weight training at home for months and recently bought an elliptical trainer for my cardio.
    For reasons I could not get motivated to go to a gym, so I brought a gym into my home, so to speak. I don’t have all the advantages, but do get most of the basic muscle workouts with what I have.
    I am happy to have what I need and happier to see here I am and have been on the right track for years!

  • Visoni

    I would like to begin a running program. Any thoughts or suggestions to incorporate this into my weight training?

  • Bob Moore

    Two days a week after weight training, I jog for about 20 minutes. Another two days I jog carrying different size dumbbells while I am jogging.

  • Danny Filion

    I Lee,How many minutes and how per week sould I do cardio if
    I want to lose fat???

  • Chee Chean Syze,

    Thanks for the comments, glad you enjoy the tips and info.

  • Renee,

    Way to go, you can still make great progress in a home gym. I started out training at home.

  • Visoni:
    I would like to begin a running program.Any thoughts or suggestions to incorporate this into my weight training?

    The best time to do your running would be on your off days from weight training. A good schedule to follow would be weight training one day and cardio the next day.

  • Danny Filion:
    I Lee,How many minutes and how per week sould I do cardio if
    I want to lose fat???

    I recommend starting with daily cardio for at least 20 minutes per day and build up from there. When I’m training for a bodybuilding competition I’ll work up to doing 1 hour of walking or bike riding everyday.

  • Skip

    Lee Hayward, thanks bruh, your a awesome guy. Keep doing what your doing, the rewards will be greater later. Have a great time in the world of bodybuilding…

  • Bob Moore,

    In theory dumbbells are a great idea, but they’re not worth the effort or hassle.

    You’re better off going faster and longer than caring those dumbbells.

    A weight vest is a great option. Its heavy and evenly distributed. That will make a difference if you get one heavy enough. 20lbs or more will be noticeable.

  • I always do my weight work first followed with 15 minutes of cardio on the stationary bike for instance. All done within one hour. I use the steady cardio pattern myself, I tend to lean toward an ectomorph frame. Holding muscle can be difficult the older I get it seems.

  • David Hutchinson

    At 60 I’ve recently found that skipping is the best cardio a person can do. Get off the treadmill, the bike, the (useless) elliptical and get a speed rope, then skip the fat off.

  • David Hutchinson

    Meant to add, I do 2 minutes of skipping between each set. So set, skip, set, skip, set, skip and so on until I’ve finished my workout. Note: I worked up to 2 minutes of skipping. You can’t start at 2 min (unless you’re super fit already).

  • Tanner

    How long would you do cardio every weight session ?

  • Tanner:
    How long would you do cardio every weight session ?

    How much cardio you do really depends on your fitness and fat loss goals. When I’m dieting for fat loss I’ll usually start with 30 minutes per day and gradually work up from there.

  • Pesi Padshah

    Looking at cardio from a purely fat-burning viewpoint, maybe High Intensity cardio is better because of the after-burn effect where you continue burning calories long after the cardio workout has ended. Hence more fat loss. But, from the viewpoint of cardiovascular fitness which, as the name ‘cardio’ suggests, should be the main aim of such exercise, a low-intensity long duration program may be better. Testing both types of cardio, under lab conditions, should give the correct answer as to which is better from the fitness angle, because it would show in which type of ex the body utilizes more oxygen, over the same duration of ex. ( the less oxygen breathed out, compared to what’s breathed in, the greater the ability of the body to process and utilize oxygen.)

  • Andrew woodrow

    Thanks Lee,,I’ve noticed for myself I tend to put muscle mass and fat at a good rate of speed. Unfortunately the fat gain isn’t desired but I like to eat and of course I wanna feed my muscles. Recently,,,like 2 days ago I decided to throw 10 to 20 minutes after weight training 3 to 4 days a week with a hooded sweatshirt to sweat even more. What do you think about that. Also I was on a 6 month break so I’m just starting back in the gym. My Max bench was 250 squat was 245 and deadlift was 315. I’m looking to accelate back to that strength I was act relatively quickly but even so I’m accumulating stored fat around midsection and chest. Anyways loaded question,,,I know but what’s your take,,any tips,,suggestions?? Thanks

    • Doing extra cardio will certainly help with fat loss, but wearing the hoodie isn’t really going to do much other than make you warmer. Excess sweating isn’t going to burn more fat, it’s just losing more water weight and you’ll re-gain that once you re-hydrate yourself after your workout.

  • Robin Hammerton

    Hi Lee I have been with you for a number of years and appreciate a lot of your tips and info. Unfortunately this latest article leaves me confused. You start by talking about HIT cardio and fat burning (weight loss). I have been involved in coaching sports to youths and adults for more than 50 years and have seen many changes of view of diet and training methods. I am under the belief that for fat burning Cardio workouts approximately 60% MHR is the correct level to train at. In addition I feel that weight training enthusiasts fail to do sufficient cardiovascular exercise with in a number of cases tragic results.!!!

  • Robin Hammerton,

    You’re right in that there have been a lot of changes in opinions and view points about diet and exercise. But the basic stuff that worked 50+ years ago, will still work today. I’m a big advocate of doing lower intensity cardio sessions in addition to weight training for optimal health, fitness, and fat loss.