When it comes to losing weight, most people would tell you to do cardio. There is an excellent reason as to why the cardio equipment in a gym is always packed with people. However, a few years ago, many people would tell you to do steady-state cardio. But why don’t people suggest doing steady-state cardio today?

Steady-state cardio is when you get your heart rate very high for an extended period, usually for 20 to 90 minutes. However, steady-state cardio is actually counterproductive to losing weight. Vast amounts of scientific studies state that prolonged cardio exercise, while great for endurance training, is not practical for losing weight at all.

As you continue to read this article, we will be discussing the effects of steady-state cardio on your body. We will also go over some of the benefits that steady-state cardio will give you. Finally, we will tell you why steady-state cardio is not the best option for losing weight and give you other options. 

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What Is Steady-State Cardio?

Steady-state cardio is a form of cardio exercise that is at a constant pace instead of intervals of varying energy output. Any cardio or aerobic exercise that is sustained for an extended period of time is considered steady-state cardio. With that said, when doing steady-state cardio, you will be doing an aerobic exercise like running or rowing for 10 to 15 minutes straight if you are a beginner, up to 90 minutes without stopping.

What Are The Benefits Of Steady-State Cardio

There are a few benefits that come with steady-state cardio. The most significant benefits that come with steady-state cardio are the increase in endurance and in cardiovascular health. Doing a cardio exercise like running or rowing for a very long time will increase both your endurance and cardio health through the roof.

However, there are other benefits that come with steady-state cardio. Most of which are the specific benefits that come with exercising in general. A few examples are a noticeable increase in mental health, which combats stress build-up and depression. 

Not only that, but steady-state cardio can help you lose weight, but there is a caveat to this. Due to steady-state cardio’s most significant benefits, the weight you will lose will not be fat. Working on your cardiovascular health and endurance through steady-state cardio tends to make you lose muscle rather than fat, which will lead you to be a fatty or flabby runner. This is because your body will look to make the easiest route for your oxygen-rich blood to travel throughout your body. Having muscle mass will impede the path your blood takes through your body, making it take longer.

This is why nearly all marathon runners are incredibly skinny. However, cardio is not the only thing they are doing to stay in the perfect shape for marathons. Marathon runners also count their caloric intake, limiting what foods they can eat throughout the day. Not only that, but a lot of marathon runners have a high metabolism which allows them to burn calories faster when in a state of rest. 

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If Steady-State Cardio Does Not Shred Fat, Then What Does?

It is not that steady-state cardio does not make you shred fat. It’s just not as effective as you think it is. Cardio is highly healthy, and everyone should spend an hour or two doing an aerobic activity a week. But when it comes to steady-state cardio, your fat loss will plateau surprisingly fast.

When people used to recommend doing steady-state cardio, they would tell you to start out doing an aerobic exercise for 10 to 15 minutes straight. Eventually, you will want to keep going for at least an hour without stopping, sometimes even up to 90 minutes. The main downside to doing this is after a few weeks of training with steady-state cardio. You will start to lose muscle mass rather than fat. This is because your body is streamlining the process in which it transfers blood throughout your body. 

The main thing you need to remember when trying to lose weight is the quality and quantity of food that you eat. If you are not losing more calories than you are consuming, you are not losing fat. With that said, doing some cardio with your exercise routine is exceptionally healthy and recommended. 

Other than watching what you eat, you will need to switch up your workout activities regularly. For instance, if you are lifting weights in a gym and only do bench press, your body will work to improve its efficiency at that single activity. 

Sticking with a single activity will cause your progress to plateau, which means you will reach a peak, but you cannot exceed your maximum reps or max single rep. Steady-state cardio works against this completely. In addition, because steady-state cardio takes so much time, you are less likely to do other activities.

If your goal is to lose weight, then stay away from steady-state cardio. Instead of steady-state cardio, lift weights, building muscle burns a fantastic amount of calories, and while muscle weighs more than fat, it is much denser and not to mention healthier. That being said, do not neglect your cardio training either. You just don’t need to do steady-state unless you are training for a marathon. If you are training for a marathon, your workout routine will be much different from someone whose primary goal is to lose weight and stay healthy. 

However, remember the key ingredient for losing weight, the quality and quantity of the food you eat. Working out at a gym, lifting weights, and running can lose you around 500 to 800 calories. Eating a single burger has enough calories to replace everything you burned at the gym in one meal.

What Is Steady-State Cardio Good for?

When it comes to steady-state cardio, the best thing you gain from it is the massive increase in your endurance. Humans were built to be long-distance runners. There are plenty of videos online and references in history where humans are hunting deer or other animals that are much faster than them. 

Most prey animals like deer are built for short bursts of speed to attempt to outrun their predators. However, their bursts of speed will take a toll on them and use a lot of their energy. In the same aspect, predators will either use their own speed or camouflage to sneak up to their prey. But when it comes to humans in ancient times, the sheer amount of endurance that the human body can achieve would allow us to track a deer and chase it at a brisk pace for miles before the deer will literally give up due to exhaustion.

With that said, steady-state cardio works in a similar way to increase your endurance. However, instead of using that endurance for hunting, you would use it to help you in marathon runs. So outside of training for marathons or even triathlons, steady-state cardio is not very useful.

How To Use Steady-State Cardio To Your Advantage

Steady-state cardio still has plenty of good benefits. The only downside is that steady-state cardio takes so much time to do that your body gets used to it extremely quickly. Once you have reached your plateau, the benefits you gain will be drastically reduced. 

However, you can still use steady-state cardio as a jumping platform. Steady-state till causes you to lose some excess fat and put you in shape. Once you feel like you are hitting that plateau, you can use your increased endurance to do other cardio exercises like a HIIT.

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, exercises are tailored to push your body and heart rate out of its comfort zone for five to ten minutes. The primary goal of a HIIT is to do a short workout while your heart rate is very high. After the five to ten minutes of high-intensity workout, you will rest for around the same amount of time before repeating the workout again. Rinse and repeat for 45 minutes to an hour.

HIIT works as a fantastic boost to your cardiovascular system and is a great way to shred excess body fat. However, due to the high-intensity aspect of HIIT, it is only for those who are already in relatively good shape. HIIT can also be quite uncomfortable as it will leave you gasping for air at the end of your workouts.

Final Thoughts

While steady-state cardio is not exactly “dead,” it is not as prevalent in recent years and has its niche uses. Additionally, steady-state cardio is not precisely the best for losing weight due to your progress will plateau quite quickly. However, it can be used as a fantastic starting point in your weight loss adventure.

The endurance you gain from steady-state cardio can be used in various other activities like doing HIIT, which is much better for shredding fat. With that said, steady-state cardio is still one of if not the best forms of training for those who want to get into doing marathons and even triathlons.