What Is Steady State Cardio And Should You Do It?

steady state cardio

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High intensity interval training has proven to be an effective and efficient workout, but it isn’t right for everyone. If you prefer to exercise at a more moderate pace, here’s the best way to utilize steady state cardio training and a few of the benefits.

HIIT Vs Steady State

Steady State

Steady state cardio involves exercising for a long period of time at a consistently moderate pace. A good example would be a light jog that elevates your heart rate to a moderate pace, but doesn’t cause you to fatigue quickly.

You can use the talk test as a way to examine your intensity level. Steady state cardio should allow you to carry a conversation while exercising.

If you’re breathing hard and can’t complete a sentence without taking a pause, your intensity level is likely too high.


High intensity interval training utilizes varying degrees of intensity with the use of timed intervals. An example would be to exercise at an extremely high intensity for 20 consecutive seconds, followed by a shorter 10 second rest period.

Alternating the intensity level of your exercise has proven to burn calories at a higher rate compared to steady state exercises.

Examples Of Steady State Cardio

Nearly all exercises can be performed at a steady state, because the determining factor is your heart rate. The pace and intensity is what separates steady state training from something more intense.

Running on a treadmill, for example, can be used for steady state cardio or HIIT depending on your routine. You can choose to jog on the treadmill at a steady pace for a long duration, or you can run at a high intensity in timed intervals.

Here’s a few exercises, and activities, that are ideal for steady state cardio training:

Bike riding (flat terrain)
Row Machine
Stair climbing machine
Jumping Rope

Benefits Of Steady State

Steady state cardio has fallen out of favor in recent years due to the rising popularity of HIIT routines. After all, steady state training takes longer and burns fewer calories compared to high intensity exercises.

But that doesn’t mean you should shun, and completely avoid steady state exercises. There are some definite benefits to including a low intensity workout in your exercise rotation.

Builds Endurance

HIIT workouts are great for burning calories in short time frames, but they’re not ideal for longer endurance training. Steady state cardio can help prepare your heart for activities requiring long periods of physical exertion like distance running.

Muscle Recovery

High intensity exercise routines are, well, intense. You should expect to experience muscle soreness, often requiring a day or two of rest before your next round of HIIT.

Instead of several days of inactivity, you could mix in some steady state training that is less demanding on your heart and muscles.

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