Best Cardio Workout? This One...

Lots of people ask me about the best cardio workout, either because they want better results or they hate their current routine. My 3-year-old son has the answer.

Have you ever seen those “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” books?

They are really cool, and are rooted in quite a bit of truth.

There really is quite a bit we can learn by watching kids. In fact, my 3-year-old helped me answer this question, and he doesn’t even know it...


What's the best exercise to burn fat rather than running?

I run at least 8 miles a week and I'm still 20 pounds overweight.

Jesse S.

Jesse, Initially, I was going to take the lazy way out and just give you list of exercises that are better than running. But like I said, that was the lazy way, and would be a disservice to you and the rest of my readers.

So, I actually spent a few hours thinking about the best way to answer this question - I could go in a couple of different ways, particularly when I am talking about the “best cardio workout” since the “best” can be really subjective.

And then I remembered my little boy, Cameron. And it turns out that he actually holds what I believe is the real answer to this question.

But before I go down that road, I am going to make a couple of observations to kind of give you my thought process to arrive at “the answer” to what is the best cardio workout...


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You are actually do about 80 minutes of exercise a week (at a 10 minute per mile pace). So, I am going to start by saying good for you. Most people never do anywhere near that much.

The hardest part about answering the question is not knowing what kind of success you are having. Even though you are 20 pounds overweight, I have no idea if you started at 40 pounds overweight or 10 pounds underweight.

For that matter, I have no idea how you are defining “overweight” and whether that is a good definition for your body type.

I also don’t know what you diet is like, and whether that is an issue.

Best Cardio Workout, Taking a Different View

Now, if you have ever seen the movie “Dead Poet’s Society,” there is a scene where the Robin Williams character encourages his students to stand on the desk to get a different perspective on the room.

So that is what I did next with your question. I jumped up on the desk, so to speak, and put myself in your shoes.

And the underlying impression that I get from your question isn’t necessarily that you are dissatisfied with the results (though you might be), but rather, you are more like me and just really hate running to burn fat.

Yes folks, I hate running.

Mostly I hate it because it is boring, and, if you are a busy parent/professional/internet addict like I am, not all that time efficient. There are better ways to burn fat than a long, boring cardio workout.

So, clearly there are some alternatives. Recent research has shown that increasing the intensity can burn more calories faster, and keep your metabolism cranked up longer after you stop exercising.

I use interval training (and am actually developing a Metabolic Mayhem program) that is short (about 20 minutes a session) and keeps your brain engages throughout the workout, which makes the workouts seem to go faster.

And, even better, not only do these types of workouts burn more calories per unit of time then long, slow cardio, they keep your metabolism revved up for some time after. Many would argue that interval training is the answer to the best cardio workout question.

Of course, there are other exercises you can do in lieu of running, and that you can also use interval training principles with, such as swimming, biking, step aerobics, etc. And each has its proponents.

Which brings me to my 3-year-old son, Cameron.

We recently went on a vacation to the Turks and Caicos. And from the time the sun came up to the time it went back down, Cameron was wide open. Running, splashing, jumping, singing, dancing. Wall-to-wall activity. He never seemed to get tired.

Now, most people will attribute that to “youthful energy.” But I think that doesn’t get to the root cause of this seemingly endless energy.

Best Cardio Workout, Cameron's View

He was having fun.

If I think back to when I played football and baseball, I felt like I could do it all day.

I could easily run up and down the hill to get to the water slide several hours per day.

Play basketball all day at the YMCA? No problem.

Why is that? Because you don’t think of it as exercise. Most people won’t even call it exercise. It’s called recreation. You “play” baseball, football, and basketball.

And, truth be told, when I have time, I “play.” I will skip my traditional cardio routine for a few hours of basketball any day of the week. And I will be happier and burn more calories. Same with many of the other activities you find fun.

Heck, I once played Dance Dance Revolution on the Wii (yeah, it is embarrassing to say it, but it was darn good fun) for four hours straight. All. By. Myself. Sad, I know.

Make Your Cardio Fun

So, if you ask me what the best cardio workout is, I am going to tell you to choose something fun. Something you like to do. Just make your cardio fun. Only then will you find the best cardio workout for you.

If you don’t like running, don’t run. Get on the elliptical trainer and do interval workouts (there are some on the free workout plans page), or get a group together and get a regular pick-up basketball game going.

Get in the pool. Chase your kids. Run around with your dog (another of my favorites). But by all means, make your workouts fun. You will stick with them longer and actually look forward to them. Make your cardio fun. I cannot stress that enough.

Now, for me, I've recently stumbled upon something amazing, and that "something" is an incredible website where you can get instant access to some of the best, most fun, most effective fat shedding workouts I've ever seen.

Go here:

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to get your instant access right away!

So, what is the best cardio workout to burn fat? The one you do and enjoy.

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