Steady State Cardio - The Old School Way of Getting Fitness Results

Ben Emanuel II

In the era of HIIT, CrossFit and other forms of “extreme” exercising, people often forget about the old school king, which is steady state cardio. In this article, you will learn more about this proven concept, and why it should still be an essential part


With exercise, it’s all about continuity. While Tabata intervals are cool for people in top-condition, most won’t enjoy 190 heartbeats per minute. And what you don’t enjoy, you are less likely to do. Longterm fitness goals are all about enjoying your activities.

You are much more likely to dig jogging with your dog or cycling alongside the river than lying on the floor dripping in sweat, just about to vomit. And you are much more likely to have a 45-minute stationary bike session when your favorite show is on. Concentrating on that re-run of “Friends” is impossible to do when you are running sprints on a treadmill.


Steady state cardio is all about full control. You pick a moderate intensity, and you hold that pace for 45 minutes. Nice and simple. No extreme changes of pace, or complicated routines involving weights. It’s just you, and your bicycle.

This type of training minimizes the injury risks. And we have already explained that fitness is all about longterm goals. When you are injured, you can’t exercise, so stay smart, and pick something low-risk but effective.


Steady state cardio keeps you in the fat-burning zone. Extreme strenuous activities require our body to use glycogen as a form of energy. That allows us to go extra hard, but only for a limited time. But, if the activity is not vigorous enough, our body will try to save that limited amount of glycogen and will look for energy in other sources—fat cells.

To calculate your fat-burning heart rate, you need to subtract your age from 220. Then, you need to calculate 70% of that number. Keep your heart rate around there, and you are using fat as fuel.


Although you can do HIIT with friends, the truth is that every one of you is trying to survive on their own. And when (or if?) you get through the whole thing, you can only fall on the floor, trying to catch your breath. The only socialization going on there is collective suffering, nothing else.

Steady state cardio is a different story. You can jog with your buddies, or your spouse, enjoying nature. The same goes for hiking or cycling. These are activities you can while talking at the same time, and fully enjoying your environment. Often, when around friends, steady state cardio doesn’t feel like exercise, but it is.


Steady state cardio is a perfect supplement to heavy weight workouts. You can do it on your recovery days, as it will help your muscles recover faster.

Steady state cardio is very light on the CNS, unlike strength training and HIIT. But, at the same time, you are using your muscles, increasing blood flow through them, speeding up the recovery, and muscle building process.

This is the only safe way to squeeze in cardio if you are training hard with weights. Doing HIIT alongside weight workout will leave nothing in the tank, and you won’t recover in time for your next workout. Steady state cardio is exactly what you need.

Yes, 45 minutes of cycling sounds boring. However, there are many reasons why steady state cardio stood the test of time. It will always be the best method of improving your health, endurance, and burning fat.

Sure, it gets stale, but who says that you have to keep doing the same thing forever? Switch it up. Go swimming, or cycle outside. And go ahead, use HIIT or similar interval training methods.

Variation keeps things interesting. Fitness is not a cult, and it’s not about picking sides. Your goal is to stay active forever, and how you do it is all up to you, and don’t letanyone tell you opposite.