The body (men's, women's, and hermaphrodites' alike) contains up to 30 billion fat cells. If you want to chop away the fat, you have to either shrink your fat cells or get rid of them. And the only way to shrink or kill fat cells is to use up the energy stored in them. Eating right will prevent them from getting bigger; only a cardio workout will actively shrink them.

"Cardio work" is basically anything that makes you sweat: running, stair-climbing, sports, stuff like that. For a cardio workout to be effective, though, your heart rate has to increase and stay high for at least 20 minutes. At the 20-minute mark, the body stops running only on its stored energy, and it turns to its fat deposits (and all of your exercise over 20 minutes will pull from that stored fat). We suggest that you don't bother yourself with insignificant details like "how does this happen?" It's magic. All that matters is that it really works.

How to construct a successful fat-burning cardio workout

There are the four ingredients to a successful fat-burning cardio workout:

  1. Stretch out
  2. Warm up
  3. Work out
  4. Cool down

Stretching is key; it prevents you from hurting yourself, it gets your body prepared, and it keeps you from getting sore the next day. Here is some advice on doing it properly.

The warm-up is a 3-5 minute light engagement of the activity. If you're going to run, then it is a 3-5 minute light jog to get your blood flowing. If you're going to play basketball, then it's a light jog around the court.

The workout is, obviously, the part where you sweat 'til you stink. It should last between 15 and 45 minutes, though that depends on your current fitness level; if you are just starting to work out after a long period of inactivity, start slow (maybe 10 minutes a day for a week or two) and bump up your time as your conditioning improves.

The cool down, a 3-5 minute jog followed by stretching, allows the body to gradually return to a normal heart rate while getting the excess blood out of the extremities. If you don't want to be sore the next day, then it is 100% vital to stretch after engaging in cardiovascular activities.

This workout should be done 3-4 times a week.

The aerobic activity in which you choose to engage can be whatever you like: running, biking, and brisk walking are very popular. Once you have chosen one or perhaps two (to avoid boredom and thus stay committed) activities, make sure that you get a comfortable, proper-fitting pair of sneakers or you risk injuring your knees and feet. Whatever exercise you do, it is extraordinarily important that you do the exercises correctly, whether it is biking, rowing, stair-climbing or dog-kicking. Also keep in mind what your "weak points" are. For example, biking on a machine that allows you to lie down may help to avoid lower back injuries. It is a good idea to consult a trainer at your local exercise gym about the proper technique for doing your chosen exercise.