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Why Steady-State Cardio Is A Great Alternative!

Are you new to working out? Or do high-intensity workouts seem a bit much for you? If so, SSC may be a great start for you!

Did You Know?

On average, a 150 lb. person will burn around 100 calories per mile! In order to stay fit and lean, you have to move your body!

Often shortened to “cardio,” cardiovascular exercises are absolutely necessary for human health. But within the realm of cardio options, a specific type known as steady-state cardio (SSC) has emerged for newcomers.

What Is Steady-State Cardio?

Steady-state cardio, also known as zone 2 training, is a continuous and moderate form of exercise. Unlike high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with bursts of intense activity and recovery periods, SSC focuses on maintaining a sustained effort for a longer duration. In turn, the effort elevates your heart rate to a specific zone, typically between 60-70% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).

Heart Rate = 220 – Age

Use the formula above to estimate your MHR. Once you have that number, multiply it by 0.6 to 0.7 to determine your target heart rate range.

While this formula offers a starting point, please listen to your body and adjust the intensity accordingly.

In order to gauge this better, you should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably during SSC, while breaking a sweat at the same time.

Exercises For Steady-State Cardio

i) Land Activities –

  • Brisk Walking: This low-impact exercise is a great starting point for beginners and can be easily done anywhere.

  • Jogging: Once walking becomes comfortable, you can gradually increase your pace to a light jog.

  • Running: Different from jogging, experienced runners can use a sustained pace to achieve their steady-state zone.

  • Cycling: Hitting the trails or a stationary bike offers a scenic or controlled environment for steady-state cardio.

  • Elliptical Training: This low-impact option provides a full-body workout while minimizing stress on your joints.

  • Swimming: The buoyancy of water allows for a gentle yet effective steady-state workout.

  • Group Fitness Classes: Many group exercise classes, such as spinning or Zumba, can be modified to maintain a steady-state intensity level.

ii) Water Activities

For those seeking a change of scenery, consider water-based activities like kayaking or paddleboarding, which can provide a unique and enjoyable way to achieve steady-state cardio.

How They Benefit You!

Steady-state cardio offers a plethora of health benefits, making it a valuable addition to your fitness routine:

  • Improved Cardiovascular Health: Regular SSC strengthens your heart muscle, improves blood flow, and lowers blood pressure, which reduces your risk of heart disease.

  • Enhanced Endurance: Sustained exercise increases your body’s ability to utilize oxygen, boosting your overall stamina and endurance.

  • Weight Management: Steady-state cardio burns calories, contributing to weight control.

  • Stress Reduction: Exercise, in general, is a well-known stress reliever. The rhythmic nature of SSC can be particularly calming.

  • Improved Mental Wellbeing: Regular physical activity releases endorphins, which elevate mood and culminate a more positive mindset.

Steady-State vs. HIIT

While steady-state cardio offers undeniable benefits, other forms of cardio contribute to a well-rounded workout routine.

Steady-State Cardio

  • Pros: Provides sustained cardiovascular benefits, improves endurance, promotes weight management, offers stress reduction and mental health benefits.
  • Cons: Can feel repetitive for some individuals, might not burn as many calories as high-intensity workouts.

Regular Cardio

This term encompasses a broader range of cardiovascular exercises, including HIIT, HIIT variations like Tabata training, and even some sports like basketball or tennis.

  • Pros: Offers variety and keeps workouts engaging, HIIT can burn more calories in a shorter time compared to SSC, high-intensity workouts can improve VO2 max (maximum oxygen consumption).
  • Cons: HIIT might not be suitable for beginners or those with joint problems, high-intensity workouts can be mentally and physically demanding, requires longer recovery periods compared to SSC.

What’s Best For You?

The best approach often lies in a combination of both steady-state and regular cardio. I would recommend SSC on most days of the week for its sustained benefits. Adding to that, HIIT workouts at least 1-2 times a week will most definitely help.