17 Ways To Kill Cardio Sessions and Amp Up Fat Burning

Joe Pietaro
Written By: Joe Pietaro
December 30th, 2014
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Fat Loss
57.3K Reads
Nutrex Athlete Anton Antipov
Cardio is essential for losing fat and maintaining fat loss. There's no way around it, so here's 17 types of cardio you a use to mix things up and get results!

You worked hard getting your body in the type of shape that made you proud to show it off all summer long. On the beach, at the pool, and away on vacation. Training hard and eating healthy certainly paid off and all of your goals were met. Looking good in shorts and a tank top (or less) made this a memorable span but now you find yourself lacking an incentive.

The weather is cooling off as fall approaches and long sleeves, pants, and jackets are covering up what is your living and breathing trophy. And before you know it, the holiday season will be upon us and that is the worst time of the year to stay on top of your fitness regimen. So do not allow yourself to get comfortable if you expect to stay in shape. As a matter of fact, you need to turn it up a notch right now if you intend to make it to the New Year looking the way you want to.

Maintaining a healthy looking physique may not be as hard as initially getting one, but that is precisely the reason why the intensity meter needs to be upped. Complacency has a tendency to set in – even for the most dedicated fitness enthusiast. So the plan should be one that is a two-pronged cardio-based attack to incinerate fat before the first snowfall. And mixing both aerobic and anaerobic activity can do it.

Nutrex Athlete Running

From a scientific standpoint, the difference comes down to the level of oxygen as an energy source to perform the exercise. For aerobics, you will have enough oxygen intake and not need to tap into another energy source. With anaerobics, the intensity requires other energy sources to be used and your body begins to break down sugar and convert it into glycogen to complete the task.

In layman’s terms, the difference between the two is that aerobic exercise is less intense and performed for longer periods of time while anaerobic activity is explosive and encompasses a shorter span. Both will help you burn fat and boost your metabolism. Your endurance level will increase with aerobic activity and that will allow you to push the intensity with anaerobic activity, which will result in fat burning and gaining lean muscle mass.

Since anaerobic exercise is very taxing, it is best to keep it to two-to-three sessions per week. And, if possible, try to skip at least 24 hours in between performing it to allow your body sufficient time to recover.

Aerobic Activity

When people hear the term ‘aerobics,’ many will have a frightening mental image of spandex, leggings and headband-sporting class members sweating it up to a Duran Duran cassette tape in a 1980s-era Jack LaLanne health spa. Get that out of your heads and instead picture the litany of options that aerobic activity can include, such as:

1. Running

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 272 (M), 204 (F)

There’s a valid reason why the oldest form of cardio is still used every day by millions of people – because it works. Burn calories and fat by running/jogging around the track or public streets. Get in a half hour minimum and keep the pace a steady one. Here’s a hint on how to make it more difficult and thus better for fat burning – run in the sand when possible. The soft and uneven surface will work your body much harder than a track.

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2. Walking

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 90 (M), 67 (F)

A very low impact exercise, walking is a good way of warming up for running or sprinting. Build your way up to the high intensity cardio movements and also for a cool down period. Walking can also be used as an active rest in between laps or sprints. Or perhaps even walking to the gym instead of driving, if that’s possible, depending on the distance traveled. So use walking as a way of stepping it up for the coming exercises.

3. Rowing

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 191 (M), 143 (F)

Row machines in the gym have made a stirring comeback, and what was once considered an obsolete piece of cardio equipment has once again become one that qualifies for a number (like at the bakery). This is a total body workout and although it is of the low impact variety, it is certainly a high intensity one.

4. Cycling

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 218 (M), 163 (F)

Choose either a stationary bike or conventional one; both get the job done. Outdoors is the best choice, as the uphill and downhill aspects of the road will give you a more strenuous workout.

Take it to the next level by joining in on a spin class, where you can switch between aerobic and anaerobic. A 30 or 60-minute session will leave you drenched with a lot of calories being melted away.

5. Swimming

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 191 (M), 143 (F)

Another full body workout that many people do not take advantage of, 30 minutes of swimming – especially using different strokes – will stretch and work your muscles from different angles unmatched by any piece of cardio equipment. Many gyms have indoor pools so treat yourself to a swim once a week.

6. Boxing

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 245 (M), 184 (F)

Take your pick from either the heavy bag, speed bag or sparring. All will give you a great cardio workout and you will feel that the bell timer is not working properly, muttering to yourself, “There’s no way that was only three minutes.”

Nutrex Athlete Boxing

Anaerobic Activity

Depending on your fitness level, present conditioning and experience, this next set of exercises can be performed in a conventional way or by setting the bar higher. High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) and Supramaximal Interval Training (S.M.I.T.) can be utilized to accelerate the fat burning process and while they have similarities, the latter is a more intense method. H.I.I.T. would be summarized by using 75-to-90-percent of maximal effort for a short burst, followed by an active rest period. With S.M.I.T., you use 100 percent effort for an even shorter burst and then have a longer full rest period.

7. Sprinting

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 408 (M), 295 (F)

Hands-down, sprinting is the best exercise for burning fat. Even doing 20 yards at a time is beneficial and here is where you can implement H.I.I.T. and/or S.M.I.T. for the people who perform it. Keep the rest periods short (five-to-10 seconds) or even do an active rest period with walking back to the starting point.

8. Box Jumps

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: N/A

Box Jumps are one of the most popular plyometric exercises and the difficulty level can be changed from set-to-set (or even rep-to-rep, for that matter) by adjusting the height. Start off in the one or two foot range with sets of 10 reps.

9. Double Under Jump Rope

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 327 (M), 245 (F)

This is a movement that one needs to work up to; beginners should stick to jumping rope as an aerobic activity. But for the more experienced person, turn the heat up by implementing double unders, which means to jump higher and turn the rope under your feet twice before landing. Once you can successfully do one, mix it up by rotating a normal jump rope with a double under. You’ll know when you’re ready for back-to-back double unders.

Nutrex Athlete Jumping Rope

10. Elliptical

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 245 (M), 184 (F)

This is an example of a machine that can be used for either aerobic or anaerobic activity, as well as another perfect H.I.I.T. option. Do short two-to-three-minute bursts and then slow it down for the same amount of time or longer.

11. Treadmill

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 218 (M), 163 (F)

Very similar to the elliptical, the treadmill is a multi-task machine that can be used for some grueling high-intensity sessions. With the options of the incline and speed, you can go from aerobic (walking and light running) to a sweat-inducing monster workout by sprinting on the treadmill at a high incline.

12. Shredmill (Deadmill)

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: N/A

This variation of the regular treadmill workout has become commonplace in the training rooms around the National Football League. What makes it different – and more difficult – is that it is self-powered by the user and the belt only moves as fast as the running on it is. Some NFL players have hit the 20 miles-per-hour mark, which is an amazing number when you consider how fast you have to move for the belt to get there. And it can also be inclined up to 30 percent. This will improve your stride length, power, acceleration and explosiveness.

13. Burpees

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: 272 (M), 204 (F)

Switch up how you do these between timed sets (for example, do as many as you can in one minute) or complete 10 or more reps with a 45-to-60-second rest in between sets. Four rounds should be sufficient for both, with the same rest period used, as well. Burpees are a good full body, fat burning exercise.


The new term for it is ‘functional training’ but its originations are what used to be called ‘circuit training.’ Doing a sequence of exercises consecutively and working all different muscle groups can be done with free weights, machines or bodyweight (cardio style) and all are going to burn fat effectively and get you shredded.

Nutrex Athlete Pushing Weight

14. Obstacle Course Races

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: N/A

One of the newer fitness trends are the obstacle course, Spartan and mud races. Any of them will help you in your fat burning quest and while on an obstacle course, both fast and slow twitch muscles will be worked and if you are to complete it, your endurance levels will improve, as well.

15. Mud Runs

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: N/A

The additional element here is the terrain, obviously one not conducive to run in. Getting past the obstacles are hard enough but once you ad in the slippery and soft surface, keeping your balance in itself becomes a task.

16. Spartan Races

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: N/A

There are three different types – Spartan Sprint (3-plus miles/15-plus obstacles), Spartan Super (8-plus miles/20-plus obstacles) and Spartan Beast (12-plus miles, 25-plus obstacles).

17. Crossfit

Average calories burned in 20 minutes: N/A

This is a separate community in itself and since the first company was formed in 2000, CrossFit, Inc. has grown into a worldwide sensation. It is an entire philosophy combining elements of H.I.I.T., plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, Olympic-style weightlifting, calisthenics, strongman and girevoy (kettlebell) sport. There are so many exercises to choose from that the company’s website posts the Workout of the Day, or WOD.

Editor's note: Check out our huge range of fat loss workouts and cardio workouts to put some of these methods to use!

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Posted on: Mon, 01/12/2015 - 02:44

Awesome Article ...

Posted on: Sun, 01/04/2015 - 17:37

Out of all the forms of cardio listed there SMIT is clearly the best for burning calories and keeping muscle mass. I have been competing for 3 years now and used this method with great success in each one of my preps.

Posted on: Mon, 01/05/2015 - 12:23


Posted on: Mon, 01/05/2015 - 20:39

Supramaximal Interval Training

Posted on: Tue, 01/06/2015 - 06:16

SuperMax Interval Training

Posted on: Sat, 01/03/2015 - 08:56

Great article. HIIT is the way to go if you hate cardio and just want to get it done. Massive calorie burn in 20mins or so. I have used it for years to get lean pretty quick.

Posted on: Fri, 01/02/2015 - 18:21

Awesome article! I find myself stuck doing the same cardio routine (when I get around to it) so I will definitely integrate some of these other options in my daily workouts!