How Long Should I Do Cardio To Burn Fat?

With summer coming up, EVERYONE wants to lose fat. And we all know that cardio is one of the best ways to do it.

Honestly, I googled, ‘how long should I do cardio to burn fat’- and there isn’t a good answer. In fact, the snippet was kind of useless, it just said something like ‘exercise is good for you’.

I went ahead and did the research.

So, how long should I do cardio to burn fat?

The truth is, you have two options. You can do a shorter but high-intensity session known as (HIIT) for 25 minutes, or you can do a longer but moderate-intensity session for 45-60 minutes. Also, you need to make sure you’re in a “caloric-deficit”. Then, you’ll be burning a ton of fat!

But let’s cover this more in-depth and explain which option is best for you.

How Long Should I Do Cardio To Burn Fat? The answer is actually pretty surprising. Pictured: Li Sun
How Long Should I Do Cardio To Burn Fat? The answer is actually pretty surprising. Pictured: Li Sun

High Intensity (HIIT) vs Moderate-Intensity

So you really have two options to go off of. And this is something I love about science, High Intensity Interval Training or (HIIT) didn’t come around until really a few years ago.

Scientists discovered that HIIT is a phenomenal way to lose fat in a fraction of the time, saving us countless hours in the gym.

High-Intensity Interval Training is a method of doing high-intensity work for a few minutes, then resting for about a minute, then resuming that high-intensity work. Generally, these HIIT workouts last 20-30 minutes, and these workouts can burn an immense amount of calories in a record amount of time.

‘HIIT’ Isn’t Nessecarily The BEST Option

While ‘burning fat in less time’ sounds better on paper, it’s much more complicated than that. It’s very difficult to do HIIT workouts every day as they require a ton of energy and perseverance.

If you don’t sleep well, or have an intense weight training session, or even if you’re new to working out, HIIT just isn’t the best thing to do.

Many People Give up on HIIT Workouts

And you can ask any bodybuilder, sometimes they’d opt for the moderate-intensity stuff for longer because they won’t give up.

There’s a lot of newer bodybuilders or athletes that give up on the HIIT workouts and this just ruins the entire goal of the workout.

HIIT workouts are much harder and as I mentioned earlier, if you aren’t in the mood for them, they’re tough to do.

Now, if you have incredible mental discipline, it might be a good option to do these most of the time. But even then, you probably want to give yourself a rest on some days so your muscles can recover.

Moderate-Intensity Workouts Are Longer, BUT Easier and You Can Watch TV (best part…)

So if I find myself not in the mood to do a HIIT workout (which given my erratic work, sleep, and college schedule, is kind of often) I will do what’s called a moderate-intensity workout.

You can do this just by running on a treadmill for 45-60 minutes at a moderate-intensity pace. Generally, you should be able to talk a sentence or two while you’re working out like this. If you’re not able to really talk, you’re at high intensity and you need to bring it down.

Every gym has different guidelines, but usually, you want to aim for the moderate range of your heart rate. (This is 50-70% of your target heart rate, here is a Australian Gov website explaining how to find your target heart rate)

Also, when you’re on a treadmill or something, you can watch TV or YouTube and it makes it go by faster.

Typically I will have some YouTube documentary about something I’m interested in playing. If you’ve listened to my podcast I’ve even discussed that I’ll watch guides on running businesses or even study to better myself while on the treadmill or elliptical.

This turns a workout into something much more manageable! Most people dread working out in the first place, so if you’re making it fun by watching your favorite show, it will not only make it more enjoyable- but it will make the time go by faster as you won’t be focused on the exercise.

How Long Should I Do HIIT Cardio To Burn Fat?

Now that we’ve answered the base question of ‘How Long Should I Do Cardio To Burn Fat?’ by branching it into two different subsections, let’s figure out how much HIIT cardio you have to do to burn fat.

This one is actually pretty easy. Typically a good 20-30 minute HIIT cardio session is all you really need.

In fact, it can be as low as 10 minutes of HIIT cardio to make a pretty noticeable difference.

Although, I recommend 25 minutes of HIIT cardio if you really want to see results.

Now, I did a simple calculator to see how many calories I would burn doing 25 minutes of HIIT. It came back saying I would burn around 300 calories. Although, some sources even say I’d burn 1,000 calories.

Ultimately, it depends on how tough your HIIT workout is. There are many different HIIT workouts, and if you pick one that isn’t as intensive you might see fewer calories burned.

At first, you probably won’t be able to do the hardest HIIT workouts, so work your way up slowly to the top to avoid injury.

So What’s The BEST HIIT Cardio to Burn Fat?

But also the plus side is, there are tons of different HIIT workouts to choose from varying in intensity and activities. So, if you don’t like one, you can find another you have more fun with.

Here’s my personal favorite that burns a lot of fat.

How Long Should I Do Moderate-Intensity Cardio to Burn Fat?

A nice part of the moderate-intensity cardio to burn fat is that it’s very well uh, simple compared to the HIIT stuff.

You don’t have as many options, simply put it’s basically just running, walking, elliptical, treadmill, etcetera.

Simply put, you want to be doing this moderate-intensity stuff for about 45-60 minutes.

The goal is consistency, you want to stay in that target heart rate zone as long as you can until the finish. Just don’t give up and keep moving!

There is ONE RULE Though! You NEED To Be in a Caloric Deficit

There is one rule of all of this, and ultimately, if you don’t follow it- you won’t lose fat!

You NEED to be in a caloric deficit.

A caloric deficit means that you are burning more calories than you are eating every day. Without this, you won’t be able to burn fat at all.

So, use an app like MyFitnessPal or Cronometer (I linked both reviews, they’re both free apps) to track your calories throughout the day and make the most of this fat burning!

Conclusion of How Long Should I Do Cardio To Burn Fat?

The quick answer to How Long Should I Do Cardio To Burn Fat? is somewhat simple:

25 minutes of HIIT cardio, or 45-60 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio to burn fat and you will see significant fat burn as long as you’re in a caloric deficit!

Tell me in the comments below which one you prefer. Personally I switch between HIIT/Moderate-intensity depending on how I feel that day. Tell me what you do!

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