7.5 Forms Of Cardio To Shed Fat, Become More Athletic, And Crush Life


For a long time after high school I hated the thought of cardio. I loathed it. Detested it with every single fiber of my being. I couldn’t see why I would willingly go do cardio, unless it was playing basketball or flag football, which, by the way, my teams were awesome at.

Part of this was because I was so heavily influenced by everything that I read online. It was common to talk about how cardio will make you fat, weak, slow, and effeminate.

The muscle magazines at the GNC I worked at said I needed to lift, and if I wanted to get cardio in, then I should just lift weights faster.

And while those magazines weren’t entirely wrong, they weren’t exactly right, either. Cardio isn’t a bad thing. It can do wonders for your work capacity, ability to recover in between hard sets, and body composition.

In other words, cardio helps you become a well-rounded athlete. Last time I checked, that’s a good thing.

Because I like good things, I’m going over my 7.5 favorite forms of cardio, another good thing.

  • Strength circuits

Naturally a style of cardio that involves throwing around some iron, sweating profusely, and wondering if the my-lungs-are-going-to-explode feeling is bound to be high up on the list.

I wrote all about strength circuits here, so if you haven’t checked out the knowledge bombs on why you need to be doing strength circuits, then you need to go read that before we dig in any further.

Strength circuits are one of the greatest ways to blend lifting and cardio. They function as a way for you to get extra lifting volume in, send your heart rate through the roof, and burn through a ton of calories thanks to the intense energy expenditure during and after exercise.

Once again, I’ll reiterate that you really need to read this piece on them, because you’re going to get a badass strength circuit workout that you can follow.

  • Jump rope

If there’s one piece of equipment I really love in a gym, it’s the jump rope. Maybe it’s because I like getting in touch with my inner Rocky, and randomly yelling out “ADRIAN” while skipping rope.

Or maybe it’s because I just like feeling light on my feet and athletic. Either way, I love the jump rope.

For those of you who are total newbs when it comes to jumping rope, then this might not be the best option for you to try and start incorporating. At least not as your main source of cardio, try and throw it into a circuit before you get really crazy and make jumping rope an entire workout by itself.

To the other masochists out there, well, I like your style.

If you’re trying to turn a jump rope into a cardio workout, here are a couple of options to try:

  • Set a timer for 25 minutes and see how many skips you can get. Keep a steady pace the entire time, and don’t go near as fast as you think you should. Slow and steady is the name of the game here.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes again, only this time alternate between periods of extremely fast and slow skipping. Go as fast as possible for 30 seconds, and spend another 90 seconds at a steady pace.

Mobility circuits

I really hate mobility work. I find it incredibly boring, and I’m not good at it. At all. But I know I need to do it, so I’ve found a way to fit it in.

Mobility circuits are a form of cardio that I’ve really fallen in love wit has of late because it helps me kill two birds with one stone. I get better at moving well, and I also get some cardio done.

They allow me to get in plenty of thoracic spine and hip mobility work, keep my heart rate high enough to get the performance benefits of cardio, and also melt away body fat.

Another added benefit to them is that I also typically feel far more athletic and in control of my body thanks to the mobility work. That’s a feeling that I really enjoy, and I think it’s something that far too many of us neglect once we start lifting all the time.

  • Sex

Because obviously if I’m talking about cardio I’m going to mention sex.

  • Hill sprints

These are tricky when it comes to building the perfect cardio workout. Much like what you’ve probably experienced in the above form of cardio, no two partners are alike, and no two hills are alike.

Some hills are long and steadily sloping. Others are steep and short. Some might be right in the middle. Some might be so gradual that it’s like they can’t even decide if they really want to be a hill or not.

But when used properly, hill sprints can be downright brutal. They do wonders for developing work capacity, burning fat, building leg strength, and they also give you an excuse to get outside.

It’s tough to say just how many of these you should be running, but here’s a general rule of thumb for building a hill sprint workout:

  • – Time how long it takes you to sprint the hill.
  • – Double that time, and that’s your rest.
  • – Repeat hill sprints until you can no longer sprint as hard as possible.

The last point is obviously very subjective, but the truth is you’re going to know your limits better than anyone else. That doesn’t mean you should quit when you start sweating. That means that when you can no longer push yourself as hard as you did on the first sprint, you’re done.

  • Complexes

Barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell complexes are one of my favorite ways to make a hot, nasty lovechild between lifting and cardio.

At the most basic they involve picking up a weight, performing a series of exercises, and then putting said weight back down. Which should sound extremely simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy.

The reason complexes work so well is similar to the reason that strength circuits work so well. They involve nearly every single muscle you’ve got, you don’t get much rest, and the weight is relatively heavy.

All of these elements, like a perfectly concocted recipe, come together nicely for a fat loss concoction that leaves you gasping for air, and with a nice set of abs.

Looking to try out a barbell complex? Then give this one a whirl:

  1. Romanian deadlift
  2. Barbell row
  3. Front squat
  4. Overhead press

Do 8 reps of each, rest 60 seconds between each round, and perform 6 rounds total. Thank me later.

  • Walking (loaded)

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While I realize that the above title could be misconstrued for meaning walking while drunk, that’s unfortunately not what I meant. Though walking while drunk is a challenge, and my friend Robbie Farlow was inspired to write about lateral training after seeing me stumble sideways.

Which should tell you a couple of things:

  • I’m clearly adept enough at walking while drunk, that no matter how much I stumble, I can maintain my balance. Lateral training, for the win.
  • Robbie believes that other people need to learn to this skill. I agree with him.

What I’m talking about is loaded carries, or farmer walks. One of the simplest, yet most effective ways to blend strength training and cardio to bring about some badass physique changes.

I’ve written on the topic before, and for good reason. Farmer walks are downright awesome. They build upper back strength, challenge your core, coordination, and make you really awesome at carrying in the groceries.

Plus, if you’re feeling extra creative you can alter the way you carry the load and cause a whole new training stimulus. Seriously, loaded carries are awesome. Go do them more.

  • Running

Running, the bane of so many lifters existence. It’s hard to even count it, because everyone thinks of running when they think of cardio, and I’m a bit of a hipster who likes to be different from everyone else.

Be it sprinting or yogging, it’s hard to find many people who are fond of taking off on a nice little jaunt down the street or on the treadmill.

And at first, I totally see why. I used to despise running. But as I’ve done it more I’ve grown to find a certain calm in running. It’s almost a meditative state, and there’s an aspect of it that I truly enjoy.

I’m not sure I’ll ever become a marathoner, but once or twice a week I do enjoy a very nice and easy jog, mixed in with the occasional sprint, side shuffle, or any other athletic movement.

Not only does it feel good to know that I’m capable of just running for an extended period of time, it helps to clear the mind, burn through fat, and even recover from an intense leg day.

That’s that, folks. 7.5 of my favorite forms of cardio. Feel free to take any and all of them for a spin. If you’ve got one that you think I’m leaving out, then don’t hesitate to drop a comment and let me know.