Why You Need Steady State Cardio

The fitness industry is just as trendy as any other industry.  When one form of training becomes popular, expect everyone to be putting out articles and research to disprove it and put it down.  Vice versa, you will see articles and everyone claiming this is the ultimate answer to all your training needs.  Who do you believe?  Another thing to be careful about is knowing where and who you are getting your advice from.

Steady state cardio has been getting a beating by everyone lately.  Is it boring? Yes (to me at least).  Does it build muscle? (not the best option to), does it burn fat (yes, but again may not be the most bang for buck).  The answer to any fitness question is “it depends”.

Steady state cardio is a great place to begin a fitness journey, especially if you have been sitting on the couch up until now.  Also, even though it may not be the best option for specific goals it still serves a very important purpose that you should not take for granted.  For some it may be the best option to burn fat, adaptations from it will help to build muscle, can you make it not boring?, yes you can.  View as that internal engine that is always running behind the scenes.


photo credit: slideshare.net

What is the cardiovascular system?

It is the power plant of aerobic energy production.  It pumps blood, delivering oxygenated blood to working muscles and pushes deoxygenated blood back to the lungs.

It also transports vital nutrients, hormones, metabolites, gases, and wastes, etc. throughout the body.

The strength of your cardiovascular system will determine how much blood is pumped out with each beat and how often it has to contract to push that blood out. For example, a weaker heart would push out a smaller amount of blood and have to do it more often (say 100 times a minute) where a healthier, stronger heart would push out a larger volume of blood with each beat and only have to contract 60-70 times a minute.

Slow and steady cardio has been shunned as of late for HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  HIIT has it’s place and is the best choice for burning fat in the least amount of time, but slow and steady still needs to be included in an overall training program to get the body where you want it to be.

The Benefits…

  • Increase in amount of blood pumped out with each beat
  • Decreased resting heart rate
  • Decrease in working heart rate
  • Increased cardio efficiency
photo credit: coachjoncarrol.com

photo credit: coachjoncarrol.com

What You Need to Do

  • You should train within a constant heart rate of 120-150 bpm range.  (The older or out of shape you are, stay on the lower end, the more in shape, stay on the higher end)
  • Perform 1-3x week.
  • Sessions should last between 45-90 minutes
  • This should consist of an activity that you can sustain for that amount of time.  You should be able to hold a conversation with another person without sounding like you need to gasp for air.
  • Does it have to be your typical cardio like jogging, walking, biking? No, any light to moderate activity will work.  You could do medicine ball drills, shadow box or hit the heavy bag, jump rope, technique drills, or any of your typical cardio options that pop right to our minds when the word cardio is used.
  • I prefer something that uses my whole body, so an Air Dyne bike or rower our my first choices.
  • The most important thing is that it is something that you enjoy.
photo credit: livehard.co.uk

photo credit: livehard.co.uk

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About The Author

Kevin Fulton

Kevin Fulton is personal trainer in Pittsburgh, PA. His goal is to help his clients look, feel, and move better. In his spare time you can find him under a barbell or practicing jiu jitsu.

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