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Top Nine Workouts to Burn Fat

Top Nine Workouts to Burn Fat

When it's time to do cardio, there are lots of options. You can run, bike, swim, dance, jump rope, inline skate or dozens of other exercises. Each has its fans, but sometimes you just want whatever will give you the biggest results in the shortest amount of time.

To help maximize your workouts, I've made a list of the nine biggest calorie-burning cardio exercises and how much you can expect to lose if you did them for 30 minutes.

(The results are based on the number of calories a 150-pound woman and a 180-pound man would lose if they were averaged together. Your calorie count may vary. Wear a heart-rate monitor if you want to know your actual results.)

#1 - Intervals burn 549 calories in 30 minutes. (Fifteen one-minute intervals at 9 miles per hour.) If you're a regular reader you probably aren't surprised Intervals are tops. What makes it even better is that intervals are the only cardio exercise shown to help increase muscle mass as well. With more muscle, you continue burning calories even after the exercise is over.

To do a proper interval, follow these steps. Buy a heart rate monitor to properly measure your results. Figure out your resting heart rate and use it to calculate your VO2 Max. Get on a piece of cardio equipment (bike, elliptical, treadmill, etc.) and get your heart rate up to 90% of your VO2 Max. KEEP GOING at that rate for at least 15 seconds, to as long as 4 minutes. Then stop the cardio and let your heart rate slow down to between 70% and 50% of your VO2 Max. Repeat at least five times.

Your ultimate goal is to be able to do 15 total minutes of intense cardio, three times a week. You'll burn more calories in that time than doing six hours of steady-state cardio.

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#2 - Running burns 505 calories in 30 minutes. (Running continuously at 8 miles per hour.) One of the keys to a proper run is in a practice called belly breathing. Every time you breathe in, push out your stomach while pushing down and out with your diaphragm. You want your lungs to expand as much as possible with the maximum amount of oxygen.

If you want to run further, try the "run/walk" method. You run for a mile, then walk for a minute. During the walking section evaluate how your body feels to spot potential injuries early. It also allows you to catch your breath and push further.

#3 - The Elliptical Machine burns 426 calories in 30 minutes. Don't slouch, stand up straight and tighten your abs to reduce strain on your lower back. Take care of your shoulders by keeping your elbows in at your sides and pointing them straight back.

For an especially challenging workout, go backward. Forward training works your hip flexors and quadriceps. Move-in reverse and you're exercising glutes and hamstrings. One of the big advantages of the elliptical machine is that you don't have to strain your head and neck looking behind you if you want to go backward.

#4 - Cycling burns 396 calories in 30 minutes. (Riding at 14-16 miles per hour.) Adjust your seat for an optimal ride. Raise it high enough to that when your foot is on the pedal, at the bottom of the stroke, your knee is at a very slight bend. Your seat shouldn't push you forward or back. You should feel like the bones in your rear are providing the most support.

To work your glutes, calves and hamstrings more, keep your heels down and point your toes.

Pay special attention to the way you grip your handlebars. Your wrists should never be bent backward, or you risk getting a condition known as cyclist's palsy. University of Colorado researchers say it's a nerve condition that affects as many as 10 percent of all riders.

#5 - Jumping Rope burns 376 calories in 30 minutes. When you jump, you don't have to jump high, just high enough for the rope to move cleanly under your feet. About 1 or 2 inches off the ground is great. The balls of your feet are the only parts that should touch the floor. Remember to keep your knees slightly bent.

Hold your core tight and make sure your shoulders are relaxed. The most common cheat is not controlling your elbows. Tuck them in and keep them slightly bent throughout the exercise. Your palms should be facing forward. When you spin the rope, the movement should be coming from your wrists and forearms, not your shoulders.

#6 - Swimming laps vigorously burns 367 calories in 30 minutes. To get the most out of each stroke, grab or catch the water as far out in front of you as your body allows. The further out you grab it, the greater the force you can apply to the water.

#7 - Inline Skating at a vigorous pace burns 342 calories in 30 minutes. The side to side movement helps work your thighs and butt muscles in ways that running doesn't. Plus you get a great core workout as your body struggles to keep you balanced.

#8 - Rowing Machine at a fast pace burns 327 calories in 30 minutes. For the best workout, get your legs involved. Strap your feet in properly, push back with your legs and then pull back on the handles. If there's a single handle, bring it toward the middle of your abdomen. On double handle machines, you can follow the track. Finish by sliding back to the starting position and repeat.

#9 - Jogging burns 262 calories in 30 minutes. To include more of your upper body in the exercises, punch your arms forward and back instead of across your body.

Remember, workouts don't have to be long to be effective. When you're short on time, choose one of these intense cardio exercises to get you in and out of the gym fast.

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