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How to increase your cardio calorie burn

Linda Melone, CSCS, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and certified personal trainer based in Orange County, CA. Visit her website at

Turn up your cardio calorie burn

If you're like most women, you want the most calorie-burning bang for your buck when you make time to exercise . After all, who has time to waste? Watching the digital 'calories burned' reading slowly tick away on the treadmill or elliptical monitor can be a lesson in frustration. The following cardio workout tips can help you increase your cardio calorie burn.

Turn up your cardio calorie burn

Interval training

Interval training involves alternate bouts of intense exercise with recovery periods. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, these short, intense bouts burn more calories than working at the same intensity for the same amount of time. The recovery periods allow for greater intensity during the work periods and, consequently, more calories are burned.

Many treadmills have interval training routines programmed into them, but it's easy enough to design a program on your own. You can translate this same technique to other cardio equipment or even to walking outdoors. Simply vary the speed, time, rest and number of intervals. Try this sample routine:

Interval treadmill training program

(Adjust all variables to your fitness level.)

Warm up 5 minutes at a 3 percent incline.


Incline Time
3.0 5% 3 min
3.5 5% 2 min
3.5 10% 5 min
4.0 0% 3 min
4.0 5% 2 min
4.5 0% 3 min
4.5 8% 2 min
5.0 0% 3 min
5.0 5% 2 min
Cool down 5 minutes.

Total 30 minutes (including warmup)

Just add weight

Cardiovascular training and weight training both burn fat and calories. Combine the two, and you'll burn the highest number of stubborn fat cells even after you're finished exercising. Circuit training does just that by combining strength-training exercises with endurance exercises done in sequence. Alternate and add to simple workout stations as you progress using minimal equipment right at home; compete with a friend for added motivation.

Follow a maximum rest period of 30 seconds between exercises so you don't risk losing the aerobic benefits. Rest only after each complete circuit.

Simple circuit example:

  1. Do as many body-weight squats you can do in 30 seconds.
  2. Perform as many pushups as you can in 30 seconds (regular or modified).
  3. Jog in place or do stationary cycling for 1 minute.

Rest 45 seconds and repeat. Add and substitute exercises as you see fit (e.g., substitute lunges for squats), being sure to include a balance of upper and lower body moves.

Cardiovascular upgrade

Changing your cardio routine uses different muscles and can jumpstart calorie burning. For example:

  • If you regularly train indoors, go outside; try biking, running, swimming, tennis, etc.
  • Join an outdoor activity club for extra motivation and friendly competition.
  • Exercise with a heart rate monitor to ensure that you're working out hard enough.
  • Train for an event. Check out for events near you and help raise money for a worthy cause as you get in shape.

A few simple changes in your regular cardio routine can translate into more efficient use of your workout time and, ultimately, more calories burned.

More workout tips:

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