Credit: sanchom

Cardio stands for cardiovascular exercise. As you can guess from the title, it has to do with your heart rate. To understand the basic workings of cardio exercise on your body, all you need to understand is that as your heart rate is elevated, your body is working overtime to produce energy to do this. This effectively burns calories, which come from fat, as soon as your blood sugar is depleted. That is why low-carb diets are such the rage. You are taking energy directly from your fat stores all day long to raise your blood sugar, which would usually come from the carbs you would have have been eating. Diet and cardio are some of the fastest ways to burn calories and help you lose weight. Cardio also makes and helps keep  your heart strong so that it doesn't have to work as hard to pump blood. While you are doing cardio exercises you are most likely increasing your lung capacity as well. A good diet and regular cardio exercise helps reduce risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Cardio exercise is also a good stress reliever. The first thing I try to do when I am in a slump or feel like I'm starting to get depressed is more cardio. A hard cardio workout releases endorphins which make you feel good and will help you sleep better at night. 

What is the easiest way to do all this?


  There are several cardiovascular exercises that can help you burn fat while you are trying to lose weight. The key to remember in all this is the harder and longer you work, the more energy you burn. You can sit on the stationary bike for an hour straight at the gym and burn 300 cal or you can do highly intensive bodyweight cardio exercises for the same amount of time and burn close to 1000. So the name of the game is efficiency. If you're interested in the bodyweight cardio routine that I do regularly you can check out my other article. you don't need a gym membership to have a good cardio workout. These are some of my favorite cardio exercises on and off the equipment at the gym.

The jump rope...

  Using the jump rope is a super intense form of cardio exercise. To put it into perspective, 15 minutes of jumping rope is equivalent to running hard for about 45 minutes. both in the intensity and the calories you burn. Finding the right rhythm when Jumping rope goes a long ways towards doing long stretches at a time. The one constant in every form of fight training I have ever learned has been the jump rope exercise. We would jump rope in boxing, brazilian jujitsu and mixed martial arts. We would train as hard as possible so that when it's time to fight it would seem easy. Train hard and fight easy is what my teacher always said.

Doing burpees...

  Burpees are a pretty hard-core, intense workout as well, I do not recommend them for the absolute beginner. They will keep your heart rate elevated, work almost your entire body and they will make you sweat hard. So bring a change of clothes if you're going to do Burpees. I like to do a modified version of the Burpee. It is done by starting in the standing position. You jump up as high as you can reach in your arms straight up and land on your feet while bending down and putting the palms of your hands on the floor. You then kicked your feet out behind you to land in the push-up position. You then do a push-up, all the way down, all the way up. When you're done with the push-up you bring your knees up to your chest to put your feet on the ground (same position as before the push-up). Then rise to your feet and jump as high as you can again. Repeat. That is the modified version of the Burpee that I do. I like to do 4 sets of 10 reps, but I make myself do 10 sets of 10 reps most times when I am trying to lose weight. This is great cardio and has also been done in every mixed martial arts training facility I've ever trained at. You never really think how important getting up fast is, untill you really need to.

Kicking the punching bag...

  If the gym you go to has punching bags, then kicking them is a great cardio exercise and I encourage you to add it to your routine. Using your legs in this manner burns an amazing amount of calories and keeps your heart pumping fast and hard. I just do some simple roundhouse kicks, nothing fancy. I do four sets of 10 on each leg after my weight lifting leg workouts. you can also get a little fancy by doing a Burpee next to the punching bag, doing a right kick then left kick and doing a Burpee again, until you've done 10 Burpee's. Take a 30 second rest and then do it again until you've reached four sets of 10.

Elliptical machine...

  The elliptical is another great piece of exercise equipment. is one of my favorites because it's easy on my knees and ankles. I also have tendonitis in my Achilles tendon from years of running. I would definitely say the elliptical is my saving grace. When I set my machine to difficulty 5 out of 20, and keep the pace around 6.5 mph I burn 725 calories an hour. The elliptical is very easy on your joints and tendons compared to the treadmill. If you are a little bit older and your body is starting to fall apart like it likes to do, it can feel like you were hit by a truck after you run the treadmill for an hour. The elliptical is a perfect low impact way to obtain your cardio goals!