Kick It Up With Cardio Exercise
Before you jump on that Stairmaster or start pounding the pavement, make sure you have a cardio exercise plan that will give you the most bang for your muscle burn.
Getting Cut With Cardio
If you're looking for ripped abs and toned arms, interval
training will help get you there -- especially if you throw in some
"I love interval training because it consistently
jump-starts your metabolism," says Austin. "Let's say you are walking
-- you could power-walk really fast for three minutes to get the burst of
calorie burn, and then walk calmly and slowly for one minute, which offers
recovery. By switching back and forth, you push the muscle and let it
relax over and over and this gives you maximum results." You can do
interval training on any type of cardio exercise machine -- alternating a high
intensity with a more moderate level.
Austin suggests doing weights during your recovery time, such
as bicep curls or tricep toners, to reap the benefits of both cardio exercise
and weight training, and along with interval training, add dedicated weight
sessions to your regimen to burn fat and sculpt muscle at the same time.
"Do cardio four days a week for 30 minutes, and add a
weight-training workout at least two times a week at 20-minute sessions,"
says Austin. "Cardio will burn the fat, and it's the weight training that
gives you the toned sculpted look that will have you bikini ready."
Cardio's Best Fat Burner
So you want the bottom line: Which cardio exercise will
fat-bust the best?
"Running is the best option for calorie burning, in my
opinion," says Niki Kimbrough, personal fitness expert with Bally Total
Fitness. "Whether it's outside or on a treadmill, it's the best exercise
because you're burning calories and you're strengthening your legs and heart --
it'll get you nice and lean."
Beginners should start with 20 minutes, explains Kimbrough, and
work their way up.
"It takes about 20 minutes for your body to get going, and
then your body starts to kick it to another level," says Kimbrough.
"Ideally, you want to run for about 30 or 45 minutes."
For those with bad knees, Kimbrough recommends the elliptical
machine as a good second choice.
In case running isn't your game, Kravitz takes another
"I really feel the most important message is to chose a
cardio modality or modalities that you like," says Kravitz. "Because in
the final outcome, if a person enjoys a mode of exercise, that is what all
research shows they will choose."
Splitting It Up
While it may not be the fastest way to a body built for the
beach, splitting up your cardio exercise still has its benefits.
"In order to achieve the best results, and also in order to
maintain a healthy heart, it is best to not split up your cardio workouts,"
says Austin. "You need the consistency of 20 minutes or more of an elevated
pulse to ensure great results. However, something is better than nothing.
If all the time you have is 10 minutes or even five minutes, it is better than
sitting still; you will still be garnished benefits and lose weight."