Create a Cardio Workout Plan That Will Work Best for You

The great thing about setting up a cardio workout plan is the unlimited number of choices you have to work from. When you construct your plan it's important to know your goals. Are you trying to lose weight, add tone or maybe just become more fit?

What exercises burn the most calories?

While cross-country skiing is one of the best calorie burning exercises, any cardio exercise you do at a moderate to vigorous level for an extended period of time will burn lots of extra calories.

Obviously the longer you workout, the more calories you burn. It's important that you choose a fitness activity that is easily accessible to do, and something you enjoy. It is also important that you choose an activity that you don't mind doing for 30-45 minutes.

How often do I need to workout?

In order to lose weight by exercising, you need to make a serious commitment to workout at least five days a week. This can be a combination of aerobic/cardio activities and strength training. I would start out by doing three days of cardio and two days of strength training.

Should I lift weights?

Yes, muscle is metabolically active. This means the muscle in your body will create a high energy level (metabolism) to burn extra fat and calories even when you are not working out. The best way to increase your lean muscle mass is by strength training.

It's important to note that the target heart rate is recommended for individuals that don't have any health problems. Please take the time to check with your physician to be sure this type of intense exercise is ok.

Cardio Workout Plan 

Start slowly with a regular cardio activity 4-5 times a week of 20-30-minute sessions and include 2-3 days of beginner strength training

You want to limit the strength training days to no more than every other day in order to allow your muscles ample recovery/repair time unless you are following a routine of exercising isolated muscle groups on a given day.

If you are just beginning a running program, combine walking and jogging intervals until you build up your aerobic endurance. You can slowly increase the jogging times as you feel comfortable. It is important to pace yourself so you don't overdo it. A good rule of thumb is if you are huffing, puffing, or gasping for air, you are probably going too fast.

 Cardio Workout Plan - Sample Routine




Exercise Bike or Elliptical 

20-30 min



30-40 min


Strength Training



30-40 min


Exercise Bike or Elliptical  

20-30 min


Strength Training


Day Off

outdoor group cardio workout plan with strength training

Benefits of a Cardio Workout Plan

  • Weight Loss/Weight Maintenance: Cardio and strength training exercises help to raise your heart rate to burn extra fat and calories.

  • Added Bone Strength: Any physical activity can increase bone density and prevent or control osteoporosis.

  • Increases Metabolism: The combination of cardio and strength training will raise your metabolic rate both during and after your workout, creating an "afterburn" to keep burning calories.

  • Compact Lean Muscle: Muscle takes up 18% less room than fat and each pound can burn an extra 50 calories every day.
  • Healthy Heart: The heart health benefits of physical activity are outstanding. Getting your heart rate up with a cardio workout will increase circulation, control blood pressure, and improve your heart health overall.

Other pages that might interest you:

I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or ideas you would like to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum

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