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Cardio | How hard, how much, and how often?

A quick guide to maximizing fat loss with cardio.

By Brandon Groesbeck

As a trainer and fitness professional one of the most asked questions I get is. How much cardio should I do for fat loss? Do I need to run myself to death? Short answer: It depends. To keep this brief, we’ll hit the big three parts of cardio outlined in the graphic below.



The body has 3 main energy systems. Phosphocreatine (P-cr), Glycolysis, and Oxidation Phosphorylation (Ox-P). Don’t let the big words detour your curiosity. To make it simple, all you need to know is Ox-P is the one we burn fat in. This system works best at a certain heart rate (HR). That HR is 40-60% of your max HR.

So, what should my HR be at?

First, we need to decide how hard to train 40%, 50%, or 60%? If your new to the game of fitness start at 40%. Every 1-2 months of consistent exercise increase your percent by around 5%.

Hang in there and, have no fear just follow the steps below.

Step 1: Grab a calculator

Step 2: Calculate 220 – your age

Step 3: Decide what percent you should be at

Enter your numbers into this formula **Oh no Math!**

(220-age) x 0.4 = Fat Loss Cardio

Example: Robert aged 42 has been exercising for 3 months. He would use the steps as follows.

220 – 42 = 178

50% to start convert to decimal à 0.5

178 x 0.5 = 89 bpm (beats per minute)

cardio intensity


When it comes to how long a cardio session should last. It really depends on what’s realistic for your goals. To not get long winded though, it’s easily wrapped up as follows.
To sum it up it looks like this:
Longer cardio session = more fat burned.
**But what’s too long?**
For the average gym goer looking at leaning out. Stick to 60-90 minutes, and you’ll be on the fast track to getting lean.


Fat loss cardio should NOT exhaust you. If you find yourself tanked the day after a fat loss cardio session. You may be pushing it too hard and using sugar from your muscles instead of fat on your stomach. Luckily this means you can train frequently. Due to the low intensity, most people can train 3-5x a week.

Turning ideas into action.

The human body is meant to move. Merely a hundred years ago, fat loss cardio wasn’t necessary. We did it every day, simply part of our daily activities.  If you’ve gone ahead and seen just how low your Heart Rate(HR) is when in fat loss cardio. You’ll notice it isn’t very high. Often no more than a slightly accelerated walk is required to get you in a fat burning zone.

**5 ways to implement Fat Loss Cardio, into your everyday**

  1. Watch TV…while riding a stationary bike, treadmill, or elliptical. You’ll stay caught up on your shows and look sexy doing it.
  2. Go dancing, just 30 minutes can burn away 150 calories.
  3. Video games? That’s right, Wii fit and Xbox fitness are both great ways to have a fun time while burning love handles away.
  4. Park far away. Who wants to get a ding in their car anyway? Plus, you’ll burn a bit extra.
  5. Love talking? Take a lap around the block while discussing the mysteries of the universe. You stay social and expand your mind. What more could you ever ask for.

I know these can sound a bit lame

However, our life is made of these small decisions. I’ve suggested these low effort hacks to many of my fitness clients. Often, it’s these little habits that stick. It’s what really keeps the weight off. Especially when life hits and typical training goes out the window.  We can all agree that parking just a little farther away is doable.

To Summarize

-Calculate your training zone

  • Step 1: Grab a calculator
  • Step 2: Calculate 220 – your age
  • Step 3: Decide what percent you should be at
  • Enter your numbers into this formula **Oh no Math!**
  • (220-age) x 0.4 = Fat Loss Cardio


-Commit to a duration of time that you’ll be able to complete your cardio. (60-90 minutes is recommended)

-Decide on often is realistic for you (3-5x days a week)

-Add in as many lifestyle habits as possible.

-Have fun with it.

**Thanks for Reading,

Brandon Groesbeck


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