Arrow icon

9 Best Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

February 1, 2023

Everyone's first approach to weight loss is to start a cardio routine. Often, people choose to start running a few times a week. But, is running really the best way to lose weight?

Losing weight comes down to being in a calorie deficit, which means expending more calories than you consume. Often people rely on cutting calories alone to lose weight, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that’s not the best way to lose weight and keep it off. Calorie deficit is best achieved through a combination of diet and exercise. To make it easy follow the 80/20 rule: focus 80% on your diet and 20% on your workout.

These are our favorite types of cardio to give you more energy, support a healthy sleep cycle, and help you lose weight. Sure, running is at the top of the list, but it’s not the only cardio out there!

Chat with a Personal Trainer!

The Best Cardio for Weight Loss


  1. Running


Running at a steady, moderate pace is an efficient way to lose body fat and improve cardiorespiratory fitness. The intensity is high enough to burn a good number of calories, while stimulating your metabolic rate for a long period of time afterwards.

Running is an exceptional cardio exercise, but can potentially be harmful. Running, especially on pavement or downhill, can be hard on your joints. If you feel pain in your knees or in any part of your body then choose another cardio workout. Work on strengthening your leg muscles enough to support your bones and joints for running.  

If you’re a beginner, check out our 10-Week Training Program for beginner runners.  

  1. Walking


Yes, cardio can be this simple! High-impact, high-intensity cardio isn't for everyone. People who suffer from joint pain, specifically in the knees, will benefit most from low-impact cardio. In addition, walking is the simplest exercise with many benefits.   

To burn calories and lose weight, then pick up the pace. To get results, you need a fast, moderate paced walk to get your heart rate up and burn calories. 


  1. Elliptical 


This popular gym machine has many advantages:  it’s low-impact exercise and  minimizes the stress on parts of the body that are prone to injury. Elliptical movement protects the knees, ankles and feet. It is an excellent option to achieve good physical shape. The elliptical machine is also a complete movement: many parts of the body are involved. You can accomplish a full body workout in a relatively short amount of time. This is a great option for people with busy schedules.  


  1. Stairs or Stairmaster  

Climbing stairs, either real stairs or using the machine, is one of the best cardio activities to burn fat. It requires you to use more muscles than walking or running because you are lifting your legs to go up the steps. It's a great workout for strengthening your lower body, including your hamstrings, glutes, and quads. You’ll also break a sweat. The downside of the stair climber is that it can put a lot of weight on your joints. So if you have bad knees, avoid climbing stairs.

Woman cycling outdoors


  1. Cycling


Cycling is one of the most adaptable types of cardio for weight loss, as it can be done at high or low intensity depending on where you take your bike. Head to the hills for some tough interval training or pick a flatter location for some steady, low-intensity cardio. Also, most gyms have stationary bicycles and spinning classes. So you can take this activity indoors if the weather isn’t cooperating. Also, cycling is great for commuting! Sneak your workout in on the way to and from work. Don't forget your helmet.  

  1. Swimming


Swimming is one of the best full-body cardio exercises. Your muscles work really hard to keep you afloat, it's low impact, builds muscle and it burns a huge number of calories.  

  1. Rowing


Rowing, like swimming, provides an excellent full body workout. It works all the major muscles, with less impact than running, and burns more calories per hour than any other common aerobic exercise. Unfortunately not all gyms have rowing machines and not all people have access to a boat!


  1. Jump rope


Jumping rope is great to combine with strength training, because it works both the lower and upper body effectively. In addition to helping you burn calories, it can improve your balance, bone and heart health, coordination, and lung capacity. When done correctly, the impact on the joints is less than if you run.


  1. HIIT 


HIIT training or high-intensity interval training has grown in popularity over the last few years. It is a short but very effective full body workout. It incorporates aerobic work with a high intensity component that provides maximum fat burning. Furthermore, it allows you to train in less time, but burn a ton of calories.


The best thing about HIIT is that it’s highly adaptable. You can include cardio, like burpees and jump squats and muscle-building exercises like push-ups in the same routine. Or you can keep it simple and choose one cardio exercise like rowing, sprinting, or jumping rope, and alternate high-intensity intervals with low-intensity intervals.

Incorporating variety into your exercise routine makes it less likely you’ll get bored and quit. So keep things fresh and try something new this week!


For more information, talk to one of our Fitness Experts and get customized advice by submitting a request in our Mavyn app or Mavyn Fitness page.