The WHAT, HOW, WHEN and WHY…
There are dozens of ways to keep lean muscle while burning fat. For example, eat plenty of protein, do 2-3 weight training sessions per week and ensure your post workout meal has adequate amounts of carbs and protein for enhanced recovery.
However, today I want to touch on steady state cardio.
Steady state cardio refers to low intensity cardiovascular exercise and it certainly has a place in your program if changing your shape is the goal. As opposed to shorter, H.I.I.T style sessions, steady state cardio is normally used over a longer period of time while keeping the heart rate steady at a set number of beats per minute. This is ideally between the 130-140 range.
Use slow and easy methods of aerobic exercise such as walking on a treadmill at an incline, an easy bike ride, or a light jog. Maintaining an easy pace will only use your Type I muscle fibres, which are extremely fatigue resistant, and promote more blood circulation to help clear lactic acid and metabolic waste. It also improves your aerobic energy system to support more intense workouts, better recovery between sets, and more results in the gym.
SS cardio can be extremely beneficial on an ‘off day.’ Meaning, a day during the week when you aren’t doing your usual strength and/or H.I.I.T style training, completing a low intensity cardio session can enhance recovery greatly. Another great time is following a weight training session. Exhausting your glucose stores during your strength session, then walking briskly on a treadmill with your heart rate at the 130-140 range, can assist in fat burning while sparing muscle loss.
So what are some other benefits?
It’s beginner friendly.
Steady state training is great for beginners establishing a workout routine. HIIT is tough. And while HIIT may have a better reputation for fast results, it can also be a more difficult routine to maintain for people just getting started with an exercise program.
It’s an endurance booster.
Steady state training allows us to improve our endurance and conditioning without too much stress. It makes us more efficient machines. Think of them as workouts that build the engine.
It can be social.
Steady-state training is done at ‘chat pace,’ which is a pace where you can still have a conversation. That makes it ideal for training with friends and satisfying your social needs while improving your fitness.
Helps to avoid fatigue.
This type of exercise, unlike high-intensity workout, doesn’t give much pressure to the central nervous system of the body.
High-intensity workout can strain the central nervous system leaving you feeling tired, and this hinders you from working more.
On the other hand, low-intensity steady state workout gives you sufficient time to exercise and hence recover faster, thereby not letting you feel tired. This helps one to work out to one’s best potential and hence aids in weight loss.
Enhanced heart function.
Your body is under constant work for at least 30-40 minutes and forces your heart to pump a strong, steady pace that will help with overall blood flow and even respiratory health.
Less wear and tear on the body.
If you think about a typical HIIT workout, it involves lots of high impact jumping, running, and lifting. This is hard on your tendons and joints and over time will be harder and harder to recover fully if no breaks are taken from this type of work. With steady state cardio, you can essentially perform it every single day if you choose.
Whatever exercise you pick, whether it be biking, walking or swimming, are all extremely low impact and not hard on the physical part of the body. This part allows you to recover from weight lifting sessions as well as burn additional calories instead of taking a day off completely from the gym.
With H.I.I.T gaining in popularity and getting all the accolades at the moment, please don’t think that there is no place in your program for steady state cardio when it comes to changing body shape. Steady state cardio is very effective when structured appropriately and as you can see from some of the health benefits above, it can only have a positive impact on your health!