What Is Steady State Cardio?

by E.C. LaMeaux

Steady state cardio is simply a cardio workout that is a continuous, steady effort, as opposed to an interval cardio workout where you vary your energy output. Any cardiovascular/aerobic activity that is sustained for an extended time (usually starting at about 10 to 15 minutes for beginners and 20 to 90 minutes for more fit athletes) at a fixed intensity qualifies as steady state training.

Benefits of steady state cardio

Cardio should always be a part of your exercise program. A steady cardio routine not only helps shed pounds, but also increases endurance. And let’s face it — a good cardio workout often snaps us out of a bad mood or funk. The benefits of steady state cardio don’t end there. A recent study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism found that steady state cardio defends against insulin resistance by increasing insulin sensitivity.

Types of steady state cardio programs

It is easy to develop a steady state cardio routine, as there are so many activities to choose from. A 45 minute steady jaunt on the treadmill, stair climber, bike or elliptical is a great way to implement a cardio program into your exercise regimen. If you are the outdoorsy type, enjoy nature while jogging, biking or walking outside as part of your steady state training.

How to develop a steady cardio routine

If you are a beginner and looking to develop a cardio program, start with 15 minutes of steady cardio and shoot for a target heart rate of lower than 55 percent of your maximum heart rate. Gradually increase your steady state training to a 20 minute cardio routine, eventually going up to 30 to 90 minutes. Intermediate and advanced steady state cardio enthusiasts should aim for a heart rate level of 65 to 90 percent of their maximum heart rate. Engage in a cardio program three to five times a week for ultimate heart health.

The right pace for steady cardio training

While you need time to build endurance, a routine with too low of an intensity, even if carried out for 45 minutes, will not bring you the results you crave. You need to push yourself in order to burn calories and tone muscles. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you can easily hold a conversation with the person on the treadmill next to you, consider increasing intensity.