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10 Best Aerobic Exercises To Lose Weight

Aerobic exercise is a vital key to unlocking weight loss and reaching your goals.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Aerobic exercises and workouts are efficient for weight loss for several reasons. First off, they elevate your heart rate and increase calorie expenditure during activity, helping to create a calorie deficit necessary for weight loss. Certain aerobic exercises can engage large muscle groups, leading to improved muscle definition and increased metabolism even after the workout. Moreover, consistent aerobic exercise enhances cardiovascular health, improves endurance, and boosts overall energy levels, making maintaining an active lifestyle conducive to weight loss. That's why I'm here to share 10 of the absolute best aerobic exercises to lose weight that you can easily work into your routine.

In a landscape full of fitness gurus, deciphering which aerobic exercises and methods are the best for facilitating weight loss goals can get tricky. The other catch is finding which exercises keep you excited and engaged in your workouts, bringing results and joy.

Luckily, I've crafted a list of my 10 best aerobic exercises to lose weight that I implement regularly with personal training clients. You may know a few as they are rather traditional and proven. Others might be a new twist! The key is to keep your heart rate between 65-75% of your max HR during the workout.

Keep reading to learn all about the 10 best aerobic exercises to lose weight. And when you're finished, check out The #1 Best Type of Exercise for Weight Loss.

Low-Intensity Interval Training

fit woman demonstrating walking lunges at gym to transform your backside

Low-intensity interval training (LIIT) involves more prolonged bouts of lower-intensive exercises than the notorious HIIT workouts. They can be done utilizing bodyweight movements like pushups, lunges, or mountain climbers at a steady pace. Weighted options are great, too, to help build lean muscle mass and boost strength.

When engaging in LIIT, opt for work-to-rest ratios (1:1, 1:2, or 1:3) that facilitate better recovery, ensuring steady working segments. For instance, consider completing 10 rounds of rower intervals comprising one minute of moderate-intensity work followed by two minutes of low-intensity recovery.

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High-Intensity Interval Training

woman doing kettlebell swings, concept of strength exercises for women to melt middle-aged spread belly fat

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves performing higher-intensity bouts of exercise in the forms of intervals, AMRAPS (as many rounds as possible), or EMOM (every minute on the minute) with lower work:rest ratios (1:1, 2:1, 3:1, or even 4:1). For this option, we will stick with weighted versions.

Consider organizing your workout into a circuit comprising dumbbell thrusters, kettlebell swings, pushups, and weighted crunches. Complete five rounds, with each exercise performed for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest before moving to the next exercise.

Low-Impact HIIT Training

woman doing squats, concept of daily HIIT workout for women

Low-impact HIIT training follows the interval principles of traditional HIIT workouts but employs bodyweight exercises. These workouts are particularly beneficial when time is limited, you're traveling, or equipment availability is scarce. Despite being low-impact, they effectively help burn calories and generate a sweat, aligning with your weight loss objectives.

Choose a handful of bodyweight exercises such as pushups, squats, mountain climbers, and everyone's favorite, burpees—complete five rounds of one minute of work with 30 seconds of rest.

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Rower workouts are highly effective for weight loss and engaging the lower and upper body. Rowing is a full-body exercise that simultaneously recruits major muscle groups such as the legs, back, arms, and core, leading to enhanced calorie burning, increased energy expenditure, and muscle development.

Additionally, rowing is a low-impact exercise easily customized to accommodate different fitness levels and goals, whether aiming for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or steady-state cardio. Overall, rowing offers a versatile and effective way to lose weight while engaging multiple muscle groups for a full-body workout.

To use a rowing machine, adjust the foot straps, sit on the seat, and grip the handlebar with an overhand grip. Push through your legs, extend them, and then pull the handlebar toward your chest while bending your elbows and pulling your shoulders back. Reverse the motion by straightening your arms, leaning forward, and bending your knees to return to the starting position. Focus on a smooth rhythm and proper technique, gradually increasing resistance as needed.

Perform a steady-state workout for 15 to 20 minutes of work, keeping your heart rate between 65% to 75% of your max HR. Otherwise, plug the rower into your LIIT or HIIT workouts.

Air Bike

fit woman working out on air bike, concept of strength workouts for women to lose weight

The air bike is an excellent option for aerobic workouts because of its unique design and functionality. Unlike traditional stationary bikes, air bikes use a fan wheel to create resistance, meaning the harder you pedal, the more challenging the workout becomes. This dynamic resistance engages your entire body, not just your legs, as you push and pull the handlebars with each pedal stroke. It promotes coordination between your upper and lower body, enhancing balance and stability while improving cardiovascular endurance. Whether a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer, the air bike offers a versatile and effective way to boost your fitness level and stamina and elevate your metabolism.

Using an air bike is simple and effective. Adjust the seat and handlebars to your comfort, then mount the bike and grip the handlebars. Start pedaling smoothly, coordinating your arm movements with your leg movements. Adjust the resistance as needed to challenge yourself. Monitor your metrics on the display screen and cool down gradually after your workout.

Perform a steady-state workout for 15:00 to 20:00 of work, keeping your heart rate between 65% to 75% of your max HR. Otherwise, plug the rower into your LIIT or HIIT workouts.

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Ski-Erg exercise machine

While not as commonly found in gyms, the ski-erg remains one of my top picks for aerobic weight-loss exercises. Unlike bikes, rowers, or running, which primarily engage the legs, the ski-erg offers a unique solution when your lower body needs a break after intense leg workouts. Mimicking the skiing motions elevates your heart rate, increases metabolism, and enhances fat burning, all while targeting the upper body's muscles. So, even when your legs are feeling the burn, the ski-erg offers a refreshing and effective alternative for maintaining your aerobic fitness goals.

Stand facing the machine with your feet hip-width apart, grip the handles, and initiate the movement by pushing through your legs while pulling the handles towards your body. Coordinate your arm and leg movements smoothly, maintaining proper posture throughout. Experiment with different hand positions and resistances to vary your workout intensity.

Perform a steady-state workout for 15:00 to 20:00 of work, keeping your heart rate between 65% to 75% of your max HR. Otherwise, plug the rower into your LIIT or HIIT workouts.


mature man running outdoors, concept of fitness habits that destroy body before 60

Running or jogging is a popular aerobic exercise known for its effectiveness in weight loss. It elevates your heart rate and enhances fat-burning while allowing you to enjoy the outdoors. Whether you prefer running on trails, in your neighborhood, or on a treadmill with a slight incline, it's a versatile activity that allows you to choose your preferred environment.

Run for 15 to 45 minutes, whether outdoors or on a treadmill. If you want to switch things up, use longer intervals, like five minutes of a moderate pace, with one to two minutes of a lower pace to accumulate your total time and keep the workouts engaging.

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Elliptical Machines

fit woman on the elliptical, concept of worst exercises for weight loss

While elliptical machines might not be as intensive as air bikes, rowers, ski-ergs, and treadmills, they offer a calorie-burning benefit at a low-impact score for your joints. Don't be afraid to switch up your methods on the elliptical machines by switching up the intensity, speed, and resistance.

Step onto the pedals, grip the handles lightly, and select your desired program or resistance level. Start moving the pedals in a circular motion while simultaneously moving the handles back and forth. Maintain good posture throughout, keeping your back straight and avoiding leaning on the handles.

Perform a steady-state workout for 20 to 30 minutes of work, keeping your heart rate between 65% to 75% of your max HR. Otherwise, try a few intervals, such as 10 to 15 rounds of 30 seconds of moderate-high intensity with 30 minutes of lower-intensity rounds.

Jumping Rope

mature couple jumping rope, lose weight without exercising

Jumping rope is a superb exercise for enhancing metabolism and supporting weight loss, thanks to its high-intensity nature and the engagement of multiple muscle groups simultaneously. The rapid, continuous jumping motion elevates heart rate, leading to heightened calorie burn during and after the workout, and boosts cardiovascular fitness, agility, and coordination. Its convenience and versatility make it easy to integrate into various workout routines, rendering it an effective tool for sustaining weight loss progress over time.

Hold the handles in each hand, swing the rope overhead, and jump over it as it approaches. Land softly on the balls of your feet, keeping your knees slightly bent. Maintain a steady rhythm, jumping continuously without pause.

I never expect anyone to jump rope for 30 minutes straight, so intervals serve best here. Complete 10 to 20 rounds of 15 to 45 seconds of jumping rope with 60 to 90 seconds of rest between rounds.


fit woman swimming laps, concept of workouts that burn the most calories

Swimming is a top-tier weight loss choice as it's a low-impact, total-body workout that spares the joints while allowing for intense calorie burning. The resistance of the water adds an extra challenge, enhancing strength and endurance. There's also a refreshing experience about taking a dip in the pool for a workout that rejuvenates both body and mind. These combined factors make swimming a highly effective aerobic exercise for weight loss and a delightful and sustainable fitness option.

An effective way to burn calories in the water is by treading water. Incorporating intervals of swimming laps with intervals of treading water can maximize calorie expenditure. For proficient swimmers, pushing yourself to swim at maximum speed for as long as possible is a great option. Alternatively, interval training can benefit those less confident in their swimming abilities.

Like other aerobic exercises, aim to engage in steady-state movement for 15 to 30 minutes during your aerobic exercise session, interspersed with short recovery periods. Alternatively, you can opt for high-intensity interval training by completing six to 12 intervals of fast-paced swimming lasting 15 to 30 seconds each, followed by 60 seconds of rest. Both approaches are effective in improving cardiovascular fitness and promoting weight loss.

Jarrod Nobbe
Jarrod Nobbe is a USAW National Coach, Sports Performance Coach, Personal Trainer, and writer, and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 12 years. Read more about Jarrod
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