If you’ve been doing cardiovascular training to burn some fat, you may have heard various theories regarding the best fat-burning techniques, such as doing cardio at low intensity instead of at high intensity, or doing cardio on an empty stomach. Different fitness professionals have different beliefs, and all the conflicting information out there can lead to misconceptions. While none of these theories are set in stone, one needs a clearer understanding of how different types of cardiovascular training affect fat burning.

Mistake 1: Doing a long cardio workout at low intensity. Since your heart rate is not high enough, your body doesn’t really get a workout.

Solution: Slow/fast workouts (interval training), where you sprint for one minute, and then walk for two. Simply put, a higher heart rate burns more calories.

Mistake 2: Not entering your proper weight/height into cardio machines. The machine won’t be calibrated with your information, and won’t offer personalised results.

Solution: Your actual weight should be taken first thing in the morning, before you have consumed any foods or beverages to tip the scale. Enter that weight — and your height if possible — on the machine and you should be set.

Mistake 3: Doing a quick cardio workout and thinking you’re burning fat cells

Solution: After warming up at low intensity on a treadmill, stationary bike, StairMaster, or stepper for 2 minutes, up the speed to moderate intensity for 10 minutes, then do 2 minutes at lower intensity, then 5 minutes at high intensity, then close with 5 minutes of moderate intensity, and 2 minutes of low intensity as a cool down. Total cardio workout time: 26 minutes.

Mistake 4: Having an energy bar/drink before a cardio workout. By doing so, you only end up burning the calories you just had before hitting your existing fat cells.

Solution: Instead, have a lower calorie snack about an hour before the workout (allowing enough time for digestion), such as an apple and a half-cup of low-fat yoghurt or cottage cheese.

Mistake 5: Doing cardio training on an empty stomach. People have the misconception that thus, you automatically start burning fatty tissue.

Solution: Don’t starve yourself before a workout and, of equal importance, make sure you are properly hydrated. Training on an empty stomach or with minimal fluids — particularly in a dehydrated state — is akin to a car trying to get from point A to point B with no gas.