Four Hot Cardio Workouts!

You're used to hearing me tell you that too much aerobic exercise is the downfall of far too many in search of leanness. That doesn't by any means, mean there isn't room for a challenging aerobic workout within the boundaries of your fat loss regimen.

It's important that you take in ample calories to meet caloric need, and that you avoid overtraining if you'd like to see ongoing fat loss occur. The following four aerobic workouts are some actual cardio sessions I prescribe for my clients. Four, in fact. While your heart doesn't really know whether you're on a bike or a stairclimber, your muscles do. Read through the workouts, and then integrate only one of them into your routine (never before weight training). Shifting after a week or so from one of the four to another can be a helpful tool for keeping the aerobic workouts from becoming stale.

Before beginning, it's important to calculate your Age Related Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). In order to do that, simply subtract your age from the number 220. The intensity of these exercise routines is gauged by a heart rate elevation at various percentages of MHR. Although not a necessity, a heart rate monitor would be a worthwhile investment in order to optimize the exercise sessions. If you don't have a heart rate monitor, you can estimate your exercise heart rate by finding your pulse, counting the beats for 10 seconds, and multiplying by 6. Get ready to burn baby burn!

Workout #1 - The Stress Free Beginners Program

Time: 26 minutes, 3-5 times per week

Equipment: Recumbent bike, elliptical climber

This routine is designed to gradually elevate the heart rate without putting stress on the joints or connective tissue. It's ideal for those who are not accustomed to regular aerobic exercise as the recumbent bike offers comfort and back support and the elliptical climber eliminates the repetitive jarring the joints are subjected to in a running program.

You'll vary your intensity by increasing speed and/or resistance level. Begin on the recumbent bike with a 5-minute warmup, pedaling between 70 and 80 RPM, using that time to gradually bring your heart rate up to approximately 70% of your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). Gradually increase the resistance to hone in on the ideal intensity as you keep pedal speed constant. Maintain a moderate Target Heart Zone (THZ) elevation between 70% and 80% of MHR for 8 minutes. Immediately move to the elliptical climber and remain at the same heart rate elevation for another 8 minutes. Then cool down slowly on the elliptical climber until your heart rate is down below 90 BPM.

Note: If only one piece of equipment is available, maintain the moderate heart rate elevation for 16 minutes before beginning your cooldown.


  • 5 minute warmup
  • 8 minutes at 70% - 80% MHR on recumbent bike
  • 8 minutes at 70% - 80% MHR on elliptical climber
  • Gradual cooldown on elliptical climber

Workout #2 - The Intermediate Fat Zapper Workout

Time: 45 minutes, 5 times per week

Equipment: Treadmill

During aerobic movement, the body has two fuel options; glucose (carbohydrates) and/or fat. There has been some dispute as to the intensity best for fat burning. This routine takes the mystery out of it by allowing you to reap the benefits of high intensity training and moderate intensity training simultaneously. While you do burn proportionately more fat than glucose at moderate intensities, you can burn a greater volume of fat at the higher intensities (even though total glucose usage will likely be higher as well).

As always, begin with a gradual warmup. Note both the high end (85% MHR) and the low end (60% MHR) of your target zone. Once you reach a heart rate elevation toward the lower end of your target zone, find a running speed that allows you to maintain the intensity for 3 minutes. Then, increase the incline and bring your heart rate up to the higher end of your Target Zone, maintaining that heart rate elevation for 3 minutes. Return to a level running surface and repeat a 3-minute interval at the lower THZ heart rate. Next you'll return to the higher heart rate elevation, but do so by increasing the speed. Alternate 3-minutes at the higher end with 3 minutes at the lower end. Alternate between utilizing the incline and speed to adjust intensity. If fat loss is a goal, maintain a 3-minute per interval program. If endurance is more of a goal, attempt to increase the time at the higher end, dropping down only until you feel ready to continue at the higher end. At the conclusion of the session, as always cool down.


  • 5 minute warmup on Treadmill, level surface
  • 3 minutes at 60% MHR, level surface
  • 3 minutes on an incline at 85% MHR
  • 3 minutes at 60% MHR, level surface
  • 3 minutes at 85% MHR, level surface
  • Repeat 3 minute intervals until 12 intervals are complete
  • Gradual cooldown

Workout #3 - Graded Stairclimber workout - The "Peak"

Time: 35 - 45 minutes, 3-5 times per week

Equipment: Stairclimber

This offers another method of exercising with variations in intensity to take the body through shifts in fat / glucose release. In this workout, the middle of the session is the most intense, allowing for a continuous cooldown in stages. Begin with the stairclimber set at a low speed/intensity. The first five minutes will constitute your warm up. Now you're going to go through three stages of intensity and then you'll work your way back down. After your five minute warm up, increase the speed / step height to a moderate intensity (65% MHR). Maintain stepping for 5 minutes, then move up to the second stage (75% MHR). After another 5 minutes you'll go up to the highest intensity you'll utilize (85% MHR). Maintain the 85% MHR heart rate elevation for 10 minutes, then return to the second stage intensity. After another 5 minutes return to the first stage for 5 minutes, and conclude with a slow cooldown. In time, you can extend each of the intervals by a minute each brining the entirety of the exercise session to near 45 minutes.


  • 5 minute warm up
  • Stage 1: maintain 65% MHR for 5 minutes
  • Stage 2: maintain 75% MHR for 5 minutes
  • Stage 3 (peak): maintain 85% MHR for 10 minutes
  • Repeat Stage 2
  • Repeat Stage 1
  • Gradual cooldown

Workout #4 - Cross Training Blitz

Time: 4-6 days per week

This routine is great for stimulating fat burning with great variety. It will also improve your performance in various area by involving variations of movement. It's very simply a 4-6 day Cross Training Aerobic Routine. Not only will you vary the actual movements, but you'll also vary the intensity and duration of workouts lessening the likelihood of a dreaded plateau where fat loss ceases.

Each day choose an exercise that you'll stick with through the entire workout. The first training day of the week perform a 40-minute session in your THZ at a low-moderate intensity. The following day you'll do a far more intense workout but you'll limit the THZ heart rate elevation to a 20-minute period going all out. The third training day you'll choose a movement and you'll spend 30 minutes in your THZ alternating high intensity with moderate intensity. The fourth training day, another short intense session. Here's a sample of how this routine might be applied by an advanced athlete.


  • Monday - Stairclimber, long low intensity session (40 min)
  • Tuesday - Bike short intense (20 min)
  • Wednesday - Elliptical, alternate high, low end (30 min)
  • Thursday - Stairclimber, short intense (20 min)
  • Friday - Bike long low intensity (45 min)
  • Saturday - Treadmill, alternate high, low end (30 min)
  • Sunday - Rest and Recuperate

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