You’ve probably come across the term steady state cardio many times in reading about exercise and fat burning.
Another name for this type of exercise is long duration or “slow” cardio. I like to use the term “fixed-pace” to describe this kind of exercise.
In steady state cardio, one maintains a fixed pace, or a fixed effort level – it’s a steady pace, a level of exertion that’s for the most part, unchanging, uniform.
There may be small variations in the pacing, such as slight changes in speed, incline or pedal resistance, but overall, it’s pretty much the same pace or effort level for a sustained period.
Examples of Steady State Cardio
- 5 mph jog for 30 minutes
- 7 mph jog for 20 minutes
- 8 mph run for 40 minutes
- a jog that ranges from 5 to 7 mph for 45 minutes
- a mix of jogging at 4-5 mph and walking at 3-4 mph for 20, 30, 40 or 60 minutes.
The mode of cardio need NOT be jogging or running. It can be any kind of “aerobic” activity such as any kind of pedaling or stepping.
A steady state cardio workout isn’t necessarily easy; a person training for a marathon may sustain a pace for lengthy periods, yet it’s a hard or uncomfortable pace and can even result in injury.
Another example is a typical aerobics class (low impact, hip hop, belly dancing, step).
Though intensity level fluctuates in group fitness classes, the exertion output is within a small enough range to be considered fixed-pace, with the exception of classes designated as high intensity interval training workouts.
Any activity that can be sustained is steady state, such as slowly walking up a steep mountain trail, or cycling up the trail.
In fact, trail running, when sustained, is long duration aerobics.
Maybe you’re thinking that something like trail running or mountain biking is too strenuous to be considered steady state.
However, it’s all relative. To the very fit individual who can sustain a 30 minute run through mountain trails, this is endurance-based activity, not high intensity interval training.
By definition, steady state or long duration cardio means being able to sustain the pace for lengthy periods or even shorter periods like 20 minutes, no matter how grueling it seems to someone who is poorly conditioned.