Using Cardio to Increase Your Metabolism

Who doesn’t want a faster metabolism? People with fast metabolisms can stave off weight gain and burn calories more efficiently. That’s because with a flexible, healthy metabolism, your body can adjust to your changing food intake and switch between carbs and fat for energy effectively.

A faster metabolism is the result of genetics, a clean diet, and regular exercise. Strength training builds muscle, which burns more calories than fat. But how does cardio factor in to metabolism?

Endurance Cardio

In the most simple terms, low-intensity endurance exercise is very effective at increasing mitochondria. The more mitochondria you have, the more lactate can be cleared from your system, helping you burn fat more efficiently. Read my article here to learn more about how this works.

So if you’re trying to burn calories, don’t give up low-intensity cardio. Try power walking a few miles every day or adding a few days of 45 to 60 minutes of endurance cardio to your routine.

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is known for its “afterburner” effect (called EPOC – excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). HIIT causes your body to continue to burn calories after an intense workout while it uses increased amounts of oxygen to restore energy supplies, lower body temperature, and return to a resting state.

In order to get the best metabolism boost AND burn the most calories while working out, your workout needs to be a very high intensity – breathless and sweating. You cannot maintain this level of intensity longer than about 30 seconds, because it’s an all-out effort. Some experts maintain that many people cannot sustain that level of effort for even 30 seconds, thus the benefits of afterburn are overstated. For this reason, and because HIIT can lead to overtraining if done too frequently, HIIT may not be the perfect answer to calorie burn.

However, there’s no doubt that intervals, circuits, and HIIT training can save time. You alternate between high intensity and low intensity for short bursts and usually for much less time. 

The bottom line is that for the best calorie burn and metabolism booster, you should integrate strength training, HIIT, and endurance cardio into your program.

9 thoughts on “Using Cardio to Increase Your Metabolism

  1. That’s a nifty trick with splitting it up. I, by the way, am an avid fan of the foam roll, even though I need to do it more often. It’s tough to find a roller hard enough for my muscles, though! Any suggestions?


  2. YES YES YES! Bump the speed. Bump the intensity. Bump the weight. Bump ANYTHING! I did an accidental experiment yesterday. I forgot to take my heart rate monitor off after I worked out – and then I thought, heck – let’s see what it says after 12 hours! Well…. I had a moderate workout (careful of my back) for about 400 calories. The workout was a mix of 1 min cardio with various strength/compound/full body moves in there – so my HR def went up and down throughout the routine. Those calories just BURNED for about 5 hours afterwards and then quickly declined after that. But in 12 hours it was 1550 calories. I don’t know what that means… but I think it’s good (although the remainin of the hours is on my couch and sleeping so it wasn’t too much more I bet). I will repeat the experiment. I’m SO curious now! I’m all about metabolism baby – cuz I’m not ready to give up my cheese, half and half, and nuts 😀


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