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Ask The Ripped Dude

"Can I do steady-state cardio instead?"

Ask The Ripped Dude: Advantages Of Steady-State Cardio

I've published more than 100 fitness articles and am the Bodybuilding.com 2012 Male Writer of the Year. My goal is to help you get in the best shape possible!
Q

I've heard that doing interval training is the best form of cardio, but I don't think I'm ready for all-out sprints. Can I do steady-state cardio instead?

We've all read a billion articles on the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT). Heck, I've written a bunch of them! I'm a huge advocate for HIIT cardio, but I also think slow, steady-state cardio has its own respective advantages for fat loss and might be better for certain fitness enthusiasts. Depending on your fitness level, age, experience, and goals, steady-state cardio can definitely serve a purpose in your workout regimen.

Is Steady-State Cardio for Me?

Slower, steady-state cardio is great for people who may not have the endurance, speed, experience, or mobility to do HIIT cardio. It's also great for competitive bodybuilders whose primary concern is building as much muscle as possible. Many competitive bodybuilders prefer walking on a treadmill for their cardiovascular training to avoid any possible muscle loss. Obese, pregnant, or elderly trainees can also benefit from doing steady-state cardio instead of HIIT.

If you're new to the fitness world and aren't sure which cardio style is best, spending 45 minutes on the stationary bike is probably a better starting choice than all-out sprinting. Renowned fitness expert Lyle McDonald explains that steady-state cardio is "more appropriate for beginners" than HIIT.

Steady-state cardio also boasts numerous other advantages. McDonald reasons that, depending on the intensity, "steady-state aerobics tend to burn more calories during the exercise bout than interval training." He also says that, because of the high energy demands and longer recovery times of HIIT, "some research suggests that regular exercise helps people stick to their diet better." In other words, if you're unable or don't want to do HIIT cardio, your fat-loss goals are not invalid!

You can do steady-state cardio on a variety of machines. Often, people find training on the treadmill or stairmill to be tough on their joints. If you have knee, hip, or ankle problems, the elliptical or stationary bike may be a better choice. My advice is to try them all and choose the ones that feel best for your body and efficiently support your fitness goals.

The Fat-Burning Zone

Another advantage to steady-state cardio is the length of time your body is in the fat-burning zone. The fat-burning zone occurs when you work at roughly 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. It happens when your body works hard enough to burn fat, but not too intensely that it switches to sugar for energy. I will say, however, that exercising in the fat-burning zone is not a hard and fast rule. Nobody ever got fat doing sprints.

Don't Hate Steady-State

Moderate-intensity work on an elliptical burns about 10 calories per minute. So, if you choose steady-state for your cardio training, you can still burn significant calories. However, spending an hour on the elliptical each day can be monotonous. I like to switch between HIIT training and steady-state for my cardio workouts. It makes cardio training more enjoyable and helps to prevent plateaus.

Transform Your Body

References
  1. Body Recomposition: Steady State and Interval Training: Part 1by Lyle McDonald.2. http://www.livestrong.com/article/539508-60-minutes-steady-cardio-vs-20-minutes-intervals/#ixzz2M8BQqv86

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About The Author

Known as ''The World Most Ripped Fitness Model,'' he's very passionate about educating people all over the world about health and fitness.

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matman208

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matman208

I used to avoid cardio like the plague. Recently I started bringing a Sony PSP to the gym and now I play video games for 45 minutes while I'm peddling away on a bike. It works for me. I can manage steady state cardio at an average heart rate of 125 while making the time pass with a game.

Mar 6, 2013 6:41pm | report
aWildNelby

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aWildNelby

Great idea! My gym has TVs on the treadmills so I usually use the time to catch up on Sportscenter but maybe I can appease my gaming addiction instead.

Apr 6, 2013 4:45pm | report
PDeV1

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PDeV1

always ripped ahha. still doing HIIT cardio It works great for me. Nice article !

Mar 6, 2013 6:43pm | report
NewBuild1

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NewBuild1

"You can do steady state cardio on a variety of machines"...... Whatever happened to going outside for a run?

Mar 6, 2013 11:33pm | report
GunslingerUSMC

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GunslingerUSMC

Amen!

Mar 7, 2013 6:47am | report
vancouvernewbie

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vancouvernewbie

I'm in Vancouver BC, and it rains here 8 months of the year. I'd rather be inside, dry and warm then out in the cold and wet.

Mar 7, 2013 11:50am | report
NewBuild1

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NewBuild1

I'm from England, it rains here 13 months of the year. It's just water, it won't hurt you.

Mar 7, 2013 11:51am | report
Reynolds2x

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Reynolds2x

teenagers texting, putting on makeup, drinking and otherwise acting like complete morons while driving, freezing temps, ice and snow. Nice safe warm gym FTW.

Mar 8, 2013 2:11am | report
NewBuild1

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NewBuild1

@Reynolds2x Sorry, my bad, I forgot that life was all about being safe and comfortable.

Mar 8, 2013 2:21am | report
dreambig1993

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dreambig1993

Two days a week I do 'steady' cardio and my other two days I do HIIT both work for me!

Mar 7, 2013 9:04am | report
dreambig1993

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dreambig1993

Two days a week I do 'steady' cardio and my other two days I do HIIT both work for me!

Mar 7, 2013 9:04am | report
dreambig1993

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dreambig1993

Two days a week I do 'steady' cardio and my other two days I do HIIT both work for me!

Mar 7, 2013 9:04am | report
dreambig1993

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dreambig1993

Two days a week I do 'steady' cardio and my other two days I do HIIT both work for me!

Mar 7, 2013 9:04am | report
Indiogkatty

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Indiogkatty

I am going to sounds weird for a girl lol but I don't believe in doing a lot of cardio. I do sprints for 15-20 min twice a week the rest is weights (usually twice a day). Works great, especially when it comes to joints...

Mar 7, 2013 12:38pm | report
robj841

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robj841

zero cardio outside the bedroom

Mar 7, 2013 1:26pm | report
sabresfan11

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sabresfan11

I've done both and found that HIIT seems to have more advantages. However, everyone is different.

Mar 19, 2013 7:56pm | report
rayan77

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rayan77

This is an excellent article tyvm

Mar 23, 2013 2:51pm | report
aWildNelby

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aWildNelby

Good to know I'm not wasting my time on the treadmill. I'm not quite ready for all out sprints yet, but someday I'll be ready and switch to HIIT!

Apr 6, 2013 4:48pm | report
kickboxerchick

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kickboxerchick

I recently bought a tablet and it has really revolutionized my treadmill time! I'm lucky that I have a treadmill at home and can jump on whenever I want and time passes by much more quickly now! I can watch tv, check email, facebook, etc while walking. I no longer call it a dreadmill!

Jun 17, 2013 4:34pm | report
Showing 1 - 19 of 19 Comments

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