The Most Effective Cardio Variations

Regardless of whether you are looking to burn fat or build muscle, cardio is likely going to be a component of your workout program. You will often find yourself doing more cardio if fat loss is the goal, but even for those who are looking to build muscle, adding some smart cardio to the mix is most definitely not a bad idea.  This way you will stay in better conditioning levels as you go about the process, allowing you to lift more weight during your weight lifting sessions.

This said, not all cardio is created equally. Certain variations of cardio offer more benefits over others, so understanding which cardio variation most closely matches the goals you have in place will help make sure that you are going to get the results that you’re looking for.

Let’s take a closer peak at the main types of cardio training that you can perform so that you know which is going to be best for you.


The first of the cardio variations is taking a spinning class – or if you prefer, just using a stationary bicycle.

Spinning is a great exercise for burning up calories quickly and for strengthening the quads and hamstrings as well, so if that’s a focus area for you, it’s one to consider.

The drawback to spinning is that it can be quite hard on the knees when done at a more intense level, so if you are currently suffering from pre-existing knee pain, it’s something that you do need to be taking into account.

It may not bother you, but some people will need to shy away from this variety.


The next common form of cardio training that’s performed is running.  Running is a very good calorie burner as well and the nice thing about it is that it can be done anywhere.

While some people enjoy using a treadmill, you can definitely go out into the great outdoors and get your run in.

Sprint training in the form of high intensity interval training is one of the most effective methods to be going about your running cardio training, so something that you will definitely want to be considering.

Uphill Walking

If you dislike running or can’t run due to back pain or any other injury, you may want to consider uphill walking instead.

If you walk at a steep enough incline and a brisk pace, this can be just as intense as a running workout and as effective for overall fat burning results.

Uphill walking is going to be a great way to strengthen the quads, hamstrings, glutes, as well as the calves, so is a full lower body strengthener as well.

It’s not nearly as high in impact, so this is what really makes it appeal to a number of people.

Elliptical Training

The elliptical trainer is one cardio method that is catching on more and more as time goes on. People love the fact that they can burn plenty of calories on this machine since they are using both their upper and lower body, and the fact that they get that full body workout.

The elliptical is also a non-impact exercise, so tends to be a good option for those who do suffer from lower back pain.

Make sure you try out any piece of elliptical cardio equipment if you are going to purchase one for a home gym as they all have a slightly different feel.

You want to make sure you are going to be fully comfortable in any elliptical you use.


Rowing is the next form of cardio training that you should consider. If you are primarily focused on building upper body strength, rowing should you be your go-to cardio method.

While you will still challenge your lower body to some degree if you’re using a rowing cardio machine (versus being in an actual boat), the focus is on the back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and core.

For anyone who does suffer from a lower body injury, rowing can be a great way to stay active and keep your body weight in check while recovering.


One of the most intense exercises that you can do is skipping. You can easily burn just as many calories skipping as you can with any other cardio variation and again, this one challenges both the upper as well as the lower body.

This one also is going to rely more on your coordination abilities as well, so that can further enhance the fitness progress that you are seeing.

The one thing that you must remember if you are going to skip is you should be sure to do so on somewhat of a padded surface and always wear good supportive running shoes.

This is a very high impact cardio variation so you want to be careful as you do it so that you don’t wind up experiencing knee pain.

Skipping is very cheap as well, being that all you require is a skipping rope, so great for those doing home workout sessions.

Stair Climbing

If you happen to have a long set of stairs nearby or you go to a gym with stepper machines, stepping can be a great way to get your backside in shape quickly as well.

This exercise is going to primarily target the glutes, especially if using a steeper step, so will firm you up quickly.

Don’t think that you won’t be using the rest of the body though – you will, it’s just that the glutes are really called into play.

Stair climbing can be a bit taxing on the knees too however, so just tread lightly if you choose to do this activity.

Boot Camp

Finally, last but not least you have boot camp training. These classes have become very popular over recent years and combine both resistance training with cardio training.

For those looking for a complete workout all in one, this is a great choice to do. You’ll also get that group atmosphere as well, which most people really enjoy and it keeps them motivated to carry on.

So there you have the top points to remember as you get started with your cardio training.

Don’t feel bound to just one form of cardio either – mix it up to add more interest into your workout routine.

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