Whether you want to gain muscle mass, shed pounds, or keep chronic disease risks low, adding cardiovascular exercise to your regular workout routine will get you results. A well-planned cardio workout for men benefits your health in more ways than you think.

If weight loss is your goal, bump up the duration of your cardio workouts to burn extra calories. If muscle gain is what you’re shooting for, focus on strength training but still keep up with cardio exercise to maximize results.

Are Cardio Workouts for Men Necessary?

There are numerous health and wellness benefits you’ll reap from participating in cardiovascular exercise regularly. That’s why it’s important for men to complete a cardio workout most days each week.

A Healthy Body Weight

man punching boxing bag cardio workout for menParticipating in cardio workouts regularly is one of the best ways to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

One study published in 2013 in the journal Obesity found that adding aerobic exercise and burning an extra 400 to 600 calories daily helped men and women study subjects lose weight without dieting.

Burning an extra 500 calories daily helps you shed about 1 pound per week if your calorie intake remains the same.

A Better Mood

Cardiovascular exercise helps you feel happier because it boosts “feel-good” brain chemicals called endorphins. Aerobic exercise also promotes relaxation and reduces symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

Weight loss might be one reason you’ll experience a better mood and improved self-esteem. So if you’re feeling down in the dumps, go for a walk or jog, try a cycling class, or hit the elliptical machine or stair climber to lift your spirits.

A Stronger Immune System

Better immunity may be a surprising benefit of a cardio workout for men, but it appears aerobic workouts help boost immunity. Regular cardio workouts activate your immune system, leaving you less susceptible to colds, the flu, and other illnesses.

Be careful not to overtrain, however, which can increase your chance of getting sick.

Better Sleep

man sleeping cardio workout for menRegular aerobic workouts help you get a good night’s sleep, which keeps you alert at work, reduces your risk of unwanted weight gain, and lowers your risk for accidents while driving.

Sleep deprivation alters hormone levels that increase appetite, so getting plenty of high-quality sleep helps you avoid packing on unwanted pounds.

Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Participate in an effective cardio workout for men, or a cardio workout for men over 40, most days each week. Avoid working out right before bed though, as doing so may make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.

Reduced Disease Risks

Participating in cardiovascular exercise most days of the week helps lower your risk for numerous chronic diseases, including:

  • graphic of heart chronic heart cardio workout for menHeart disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Certain cancers

Walking, jogging, and other weight bearing workouts help reduce your risk for osteoporosis. Aerobic exercise also helps combat negative symptoms associated with arthritis, and improves range of motion.

Improved Cognition

Believe it or not, getting in a good cardio workout for men regularly improves your brain health. Cleveland Clinic says participating in at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five or more days weekly:

  • graphic of brain cardio workout for menLowers your risk for stroke
  • Improves memory
  • Protects against Alzheimer’s disease
  • Increases blood flow
  • Improves thinking ability

You might find it easier to concentrate at work when you exercise aerobically on a regular basis.

Better Blood Sugar Control

Regular aerobic exercise helps control your blood sugar levels, which is one reason it lowers your type 2 diabetes risk. Preventing weight gain is one reason regular cardiovascular exercise works to keep blood sugar levels in check.

Better Sexual Function

In men, regular aerobic workouts help reduce the chance of erectile dysfunction, according to Cleveland Clinic. A better sex life is often the result, especially for men over 40.

Improved Strength

Weight lifting isn’t the only form of exercise that increases strength and muscle mass in men.

A study published in The Journals of Gerontology found that regular long-term cardiovascular exercise reduces age-related decreases in muscle strength in older men and women.

A Longer Life

Because regular aerobic exercise reduces your risk for certain chronic diseases, many of which are leading causes of death in the United States, working out aerobically can boost your life expectancy. People who get regular cardiovascular exercise live longer than those who don’t.

How Often Should I Do Cardio?

For both men and women, a good rule of thumb for cardiovascular exercise it to aim for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

calendar cardio workout for menFor healthy adults, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 suggest getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise in weekly, or 300 minutes weekly to reap additional health benefits.

If getting 150 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly is your goal, which works well when you want to maintain your weight, gain muscle mass, or reduce chronic disease risks, you can aim for:

  • 30 minutes 5 days per week


  • 38 minutes 4 days per week


  • 25 minutes 6 days per week

To meet the heart-healthy goal of getting at least 300 minutes of aerobic exercise in weekly to reap additional health benefits, you can participate in:

  • 60 minutes 5 days per week


  • 50 minutes 6 days per week

bathroom scales measuring help cardio workout for men

If weight loss is what you’re aiming for, aim for 300 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly, or 45 to 60 minutes most days of the week. This amount of exercise helped men and women lose weight without dieting, according to a study published in the journal Obesity.

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skinny man flexing cardio workout for menIf weight gain is your goal, focus on strength training, but participate in at least 20 – 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise to boost strength and endurance, keep body fat low, and lower chronic disease risks.

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Aim to work all major muscle groups, including your legs, butt, calves, back, abdominal muscles, chest, shoulders, and arms, at least two times each week.

Which Cardio Exercises Should I Do?

Choose cardio workouts you enjoy to boost the chance you’ll stick with it long term. If you like being outdoors, try cycling or jogging outside. When hitting the gym, opt for the stair stepper machine, the elliptical or rowing machine, a stationary bike, or the treadmill.

Cardio exercises you can do from home include rope jumping, jogging in place, plyometrics exercises, or aerobic workouts for men on at-home cardio machines.

Continuous Cardiovascular Exercise

Continuous cardiovascular workouts are exercises you complete at a continuous pace for about 30 to 60 minutes. This form of exercise works well when you want to burn extra calories for weight loss or healthy weight maintenance and reduce disease risks.

Complete continuous aerobic exercise at moderate or high intensities (or low intensities during recovery days). When scheduling your cardio workout for men be sure to include aerobic exercises.

  • running in the sunset cardio workout for menWalking uphill
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Rowing
  • Skiing
  • Roller blade skating
  • Elliptical machine
  • Stair climber machine
  • Hiking
  • Playing basketball
  • Playing soccer
  • Playing football

Change up your cardio routine often to achieve the best results possible. If longer cardio exercise bores you try a cardio class, work out with a friend, train for races, or find a good movie or TV show to watch during stationary cardio sessions.

High Intensity Interval Training

russian kettlebell swing cardio workout for menHigh intensity interval training (HIIT) gets you results quickly, whether you’re seeking weight loss, muscle mass gains, or simply less body fat. Regular HIIT is effective for weight loss and abdominal fat reduction, according to a 2018 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

Complete HIIT by switching between higher intensity and lower intensity bouts of cardiovascular exercise. For example, you can alternate between 30 – 60 seconds of high-intensity cycling with 60 seconds of lower-intensity cycling bouts.

Aim to complete just 10 – 15 minutes of HIIT when you first begin and work your way up to 20 – 30 minutes (or longer) of HIIT sessions to achieve optimal results.

Plyometrics/Circuit Training Workouts

Doing regular plyometrics cardiovascular workouts is another excellent way to build the muscle definition you desire, and shed unwanted body fat quickly. Try the following plyometrics exercises as part of a circuit training program:

  • kettlebell jumpSkaters
  • Box jumps
  • Tuck jumps
  • Plank jacks
  • Skipping
  • High knees
  • Butt kicks
  • Shuttle runs
  • Side to side shuffles
  • Rope jumping
  • Burpees
  • Jump squats
  • Jogging in place
  • Jumping jacks
  • Jumping lunges
  • Mountain climbers

Combine the aerobic plyometrics exercises above with bouts of resistance training exercises to complete a fat-blasting, muscle-building circuit training routine.

Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of circuit training, depending on the time you have available and your fitness level.

How Many Calories Will I Burn?

There’s no set number of calories you should burn during workouts, as that number depends on your goals and fitness level.

Burning 400 to 600 calories during aerobic exercise works well for weight loss in both men and women, according to a study published in the journal Obesity. But be sure you’re not compensating for a calorie deficit by eating more food.

Harvard Health Publishing reports that if you weigh 185 pounds, you’ll burn the following number of calories participating in 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise:

ExerciseCalories Burned
Walking at a pace of 4 miles per hour200 calories
Waking at a pace of 4.5 miles per hour222 calories
Mowing the lawn with a push mower244 calories
Shoveling snow by hand266 calories
Stair step machine266 calories
Water skiing266 calories
Rowing machine at a moderate intensity311 calories
Roller blade skating311 calories
Rowing at a moderate pace311 calories
Circuit training355 calories
Playing basketball355 calories
Cross country skiing355 calories
Running at a pace of 5 miles per hour355 calories
Rowing at a vigorous pace377 calories
Running at a pace of 5.2 miles per hour400 calories
Elliptical trainer400 calories
Playing football355 – 400 calories
Ski machine422 calories
Running at a pace of 6 miles per hour444 calories
Rope jumping444 calories
Swimming the breaststroke444 calories
Treading water444 calories
Stationary biking at a vigorous pace466 calories
Running at a pace of 6.7 miles per hour488 calories
Swimming the butterfly488 calories
Swimming the crawl stroke488 calories
Running at a pace of 7.5 miles per hour555 calories

Men who weigh more than 185 pounds burn more calories than what’s listed in the chart above, while men weighing less than 185 pounds burn fewer calories performing the same activities.

Sample Cardio Workout for Men

Your ideal cardio workout for men depends on what you’re interested in and your fitness level. Men over 40 can enjoy the same workouts as younger men, assuming fitness levels are comparable.

The key to achieving optimal results is to change up your routine regularly. An example of a weekly cardio workout for men includes:

Day 1

  • crossfit workout concept,cardio workout for men20 – 30 minutes of high intensity interval training
  • 5 – 10 minutes of abdominal exercises
  • 20 minutes of lower body training (squats, lungs, etc.)

Day 2

  • 30 – 45 minutes of continuous cardio exercise (rowing, cycling, walking uphill, elliptical exercise, etc.)
  • 10 minutes of abdominal exercises
  • 10 – 20 minutes of arm exercises (biceps and triceps)

Day 3

  • REST DAY or 30 – 60 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise of your choice

Day 4

A circuit training workout including:

  • man jumping rope cardio workout for men5 minutes of warm ups
  • 5 minutes of rope jumps, dead lifts, and triceps kickbacks
  • 1 minute rest period
  • 5 minutes of medicine ball squats, plank jacks, and weighted jumping jacks
  • 1 minute rest period
  • 5 minutes of box jumps, kettle bell swings, and biceps curls
  • 1 minute rest period
  • 5 minutes of shuttle runs, jumping lunges, and medicine ball abdominal Russian twists
  • 1 minute rest period
  • 5 minutes of regular or weighted squat jumps, side to side shuffles, and leg raises
  • 1 minute rest period
  • 5 minutes of shoulder presses, burpees, and kettle bell swings
  • 5 minutes of stretching

Day 5

  • 30 – 60 minutes of continuous cardiovascular exercise
  • 10 minutes of abdominal exercises
  • 10 – 20 minutes of chest and shoulder exercises (chest press, push-ups, flys, bench press, shoulder press, front raises, lateral raises, etc.).

Day 6

  • 20 – 30 minutes of high intensity interval training
  • 10 minutes of abdominal exercises
  • 20 minutes of a back workout (reverse flys, lat pull-downs, seated or bent-over rows, dead lifts, back extensions, etc.)

Day 7

  • REST DAY or 30 – 60 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise of your choice

Complete the workouts above at lower intensities when starting, and bump up the intensity or duration the more in shape you become.

Beginning a New Cardio Workout for Men

Begin with shorter-duration workouts, especially if you haven’t worked out in a while. Begin with bouts of just 10 minutes of a cardio workout for men or a cardio workout for men over 40. Slowly increase the duration until you’re able to complete at least 30 minutes at a time.

old man on exercise bike cardio workout for menDiet is just as important as an effective cardio workout for men. Sign up for The Fit Father Project’s free 1-day meal plan to get started on your journey to a healthier life. The basics of the meal plan are to fill 1/2 of each plate with vegetables, 1/4 of your plate with healthy proteins, and 1/4 of each plate with fiber-rich starches.

If you’re seeking weight loss, aim to eat about 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day, suggests the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Or reduce your current intake (or boost calorie expenditure with aerobic exercise) by 500 calories daily to shed about 1 pound per week.

If muscle gain is your goal, sign up for The Fit Father Project's Old School Muscle strength training program, and add an extra 350 calories to your daily meal plan. Boost your intake of nutrient-dense, high-calorie foods — such as oils, avocados, fatty fish, nuts, nut butter, seeds, dried fruits, protein shakes, and cheeses.

Regardless of what your weight and body composition goals are, remember to begin small and choose a cardio workout for men you enjoy. Your goals are within reach!

Erin Coleman
Writer, The Fit Father Project

A 15-year freelance writing veteran, Erin is registered dietitian and health educator who is passionate about health, fitness and disease prevention. Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife and mom of two beautiful children.

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