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The Best Ways to Improve Cardio Fitness


Best Way To Improve Cardio | Metabolic Conditioning | High Intensity Interval Training | Steady State Cardio | Cardio Classes | FAQs

Page last updated: 25th April 2024

We all know that cardio is a big component of fitness. While some of us love and enjoy cardio training, some of us dread it. Either way, whether you're a seasoned long-distance runner, sprinter or new to training, we’re here (with the support of one of our PureGym Insiders) to help you boost your cardio fitness in the best way for you.

What’s the Best Way to Improve Cardio?

There are a number of ways to improve your cardio health and fitness. The main go-tos include regular aerobic exercise such as running, swimming, cycling, or even walking.  

Strictly speaking, there is no ‘best way’ to improve your cardio, because each approach comes with its own unique benefits. For example, regular aerobic exercise like running is excellent for building endurance and increasing cardiovascular capacity. Something like swimming, on the other hand, provides a full-body workout while being gentle on the joints. 

Even regular brisk walks can steadily improve your cardio fitness. They’re accessible for all fitness levels and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. 

Below are three cardio workout styles as recommended by PureGym Insider, Josh Messarra, who’ll help explain the benefits of each.

Metabolic Conditioning - MetCon

This form of cardio training involves working at a very high work rate, using exercises that will not only burn more calories during the workout, but will maximise the amount of calories burned after. It usually consists of full body high-intensity circuit-type workouts, made up of compound exercises and very short recovery times. 

The fast-paced cardio and strength exercises will push your body to the limit, helping you to build muscle, strength and endurance. Metabolic conditioning will recruit large muscle groups at a high intensity to make your heart race and feel the burn.

High Intensity Interval Training - HIIT

Next up, is HIIT, or high intensity interval training. This style of training involves you giving it your all for short, intense intervals, followed by short rest periods. HIIT is designed to keep your heart rate up and burn more fat in a shorter time span. Similarly to metabolic conditioning, HIIT tends to continue burning more calories by raising your metabolic rate for 12-48 hours after the post-workout period - more so than traditional workouts. 

This training format can work with any cardio machine, and you can even do HIIT workouts with weights! Keep workouts under 30 minutes and tailor to your fitness level by adjusting the length of rest and work intervals.

Josh says: “Start with 30 seconds work to 30-90 seconds rest depending on your fitness levels, for a total of 10-30 minutes."

Check out our free HIIT workouts here.

Steady State Cardio

This is probably the most simple form of cardio, but can be just as effective at improving cardio fitness. Steady state cardio involves working at a continuous, steady pace for an extended period of time.  

Although you will have to work for longer to burn off the same amount of calories as an interval session, steady state cardio does still promote those important benefits of doing cardio, including improved aerobic system, boosted mood, and reduced risk of mortality. 

Other benefits of steady state cardio is that its beginner friendly, and can be sociable too. It's a great form of exercise to do with friends as you are working at a 'chat pace'.

Thinking About Trying Some Cardio Classes?

Is the thought of pushing your limits by yourself not enough to get you going? PureGym classes provide a perfect opportunity to elevate your fitness levels using the motivation of others.  

Whether you want to lose weight, tone up, gain muscle or improve strength and endurance levels, we have a wide variety of classes to achieve your goals in a friendly environment and with instructors to give your motivation a helping hand.

And if you’re new to cardio or want something a little different, our Zumba classes are a fantastic option for those who want to exercise, without feeling like they're working out. 

Find out what cardio classes are near you.


What’s the best way to boost cardio fitness?

Performing regular aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, cycling, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are some of the best ways to boost cardio. Try and aim for around 4-5 days a week (or 150 minutes) per week.

What’s the best way to do cardio on a treadmill?

This depends on what you’re aiming to improve. For weight loss, interval training is a great approach. Start by alternating between periods of high-intensity sprints and recovery phases. Adjust the speed and incline settings to challenge yourself and mimic outdoor terrain. Check out our treadmill HIIT workouts here.

For building endurance, consider longer, steady-state sessions at a moderate intensity. Gradually increase your time and distance while maintaining a consistent pace. 

Is cardio the best way to lose weight?

A calorie deficit is key to weight loss, and cardio can help with this by increasing the number of calories burnt and helping to prevent a weight-loss plateau. For best weight loss results, we'd recommend taking a holistic approach that includes:

What is the best type of cardio after weight lifting?

Again, this depends on your goals - if you’re looking to build muscle, HIIT would be the best option, as it will help you burn more calories faster. Alternatively, opt for low-intensity steady-state cardio (LISS), like jogging on a treadmill, cycling, or rowing to enhance recovery and promote fat oxidation while minimising interference with muscle growth.

What’s the best type of cardio for heart health?

HIIT is particularly effective for improving cardiovascular fitness and reducing the risk of heart disease due to its ability to increase maximal oxygen uptake and improve your cardiac function.

What’s the best type of cardio for fat loss?

For fat loss, HIIT has been shown to be highly effective due to its ability to increase metabolic rate, promote fat oxidation, and improve insulin sensitivity, leading to greater calorie burn both during and after exercise.

You can find some example HIIT workouts for weight and fat loss here

What’s the best type of cardio for bodybuilders?

Bodybuilders often prefer LISS to minimise muscle breakdown while still promoting fat loss. Activities like walking or cycling can be performed for longer durations without risking excessive fatigue.

What’s the best type of cardio to lose belly fat?

Belly fat is one of the most stubborn areas to shift fat. All forms of cardio will help you lose belly fat, including HIIT or a combination of HIIT and LISS. HIIT boosts metabolism and burns calories, while LISS aids in fat oxidation and may be more sustainable for longer durations.

That said, while cardio is a great place to start, you will need to follow a strict diet and remain in a calorie deficit to see the best results.

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