The 5 Whys of Steady State Cardio: The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of Steady State
Who is it good for (and is there anyone it isn’t good for)?
Steady state cardio is terrific for anyone, but it really provides tremendous benefit for particular types of people. Those people include:
Off the Couchers
If you’re new to exercise or you haven’t exercised in a long time, then steady state is a fantastic way to get started or to get back into it. It helps you slowly integrate exercise into your life. We’ve already talked about how it boosts endurance, which is great if you’re off the couch and a 5-minute HIIT workout can feel like a heart attack. Steady state is a perfect way to find your groove and get comfortable with exercise and a new fitness routine.
Taking it to The Next Levelers
If you want to push your current workout routine and take it to the next level, then steady state is for you. For example, maybe you’re taking a couple fitness classes each week. Adding one or two steady state workouts can help you push your fitness and increase your weight loss.
What does it look like?
What does steady state look like? It looks like you heading out your front door for a brisk 20-30-minute walk. It looks like you getting on your bicycle and riding the local trails for a nice relaxed workout. It looks like you getting on the rower or elliptical and watching a program on a screen while you get your heart rate up to a moderate rate. A moderate rate means that you can easily carry on a conversation while you’re working out. You’re not gasping for breath.
Where can you do it?
Steady state cardio can be done anywhere. In fact, if you travel a lot for your job, the hotel gym is a fantastic place for a steady state workout. You can also get out and about and explore town on your bike or your feet while getting in a cardio workout. You can do it at the gym, outside, in your home or on the go.
When is the best time?
The best time to get in a steady state workout is whenever it works best for you. That said, most fitness experts and lifestyle change experts agree that if you want to make something a priority, that usually means doing it first thing in the morning. You can start the day with a jog or a walk around the block. You can get on your treadmill and watch the morning news before you get ready for work.
Of course, because steady state is not high intensity, it can also be done in the evening. It shouldn’t impact your sleep. This works well for night owls or people who get to work early in the morning and come home earlier in the day.
Why Steady State?
We’ve already talked about the benefits of steady state. You know that it helps you increase endurance, it burns calories, it’s pretty easy to do and it doesn’t have the same wear and tear on your body that some other exercise programs may. It works quite well for an active rest day if you’re an avid exerciser, and it’s a good introduction to exercise if you’re new to exercise or haven’t done it for quite some time.
How long, how often?
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to make your steady state cardio a 20-40-minute workout. Now you don’t have to go out today and jog for 40 minutes. What you can do, is go out for a relaxed 10-minute jog. Next week, add a few minutes to that and make it a 15-minute jog.
Gradually increase the time that you’re able to exercise and remember to keep your pace steady. If that means that you’re jogging a 14-minute mile, then that’s just fine. The goal here is to maintain a steady heart rate at a moderate intensity.
How often you should exercise is a question that depends largely on your current fitness practices. If you’re a frequent exerciser and you’re adding steady state to an existing program, then consider twice a week, once if you’re using it as an active rest day.
If, however, you are new to exercise then try to embrace steady state three times a week and add one strength, mobility, and HIIT workout to your week as well.
So now you know the basics about steady state, and maybe you’re starting to contemplate how you might embrace or try out this exercise approach. In the next section we’ll talk about how to integrate steady state into your workout program. We’ll talk about it with HIIT, strength training, and a combination of the two.