What Is Steady State Cardio?

strong sportsman using exercise bike in gym

We have all had some point in our lives where we felt like we need to do more cardio. Most of us know that cardio is good for our health. However, it can be challenging to do it.

In this article, I will cover what steady state cardio is and how to make cardio less terrible for those of us that can’t spend 45 minutes on a treadmill.

Keep reading to learn more about steady-state cardio and your other options.

What is Cardio?

Cardiovascular exercise is any exercise that primarily works the heart and lungs. Examples of cardiovascular exercise include running, swimming, and cycling. 

Most people dread this exercise because it brings to mind visions of running, ellipticals, stair masters, and treadmills. Unfortunately, these thoughts can be mind-numbing on their own, which definitely doesn’t inspire motivation to work on cardiovascular health.

However, there are other options, and I will get to them shortly.

What is Steady State Cardio?

woman running on track doing steady state cardio

Continuous exercise, also known as “steady state cardio,” is a form of aerobic exercise where the intensity of exercise remains relatively level throughout the duration of the exercise. Most people know steady-state cardio simply as cardio.

Most people dread this steady-state cardio; however, it doesn’t have to be this way!

Below are some ways to make cardio less terrible and even some ways to get more benefits from it.

What are the Benefits of Cardio?

Most people know that cardio is generally good for you. But what exactly does it do? Here are some of the main benefits of doing cardio:

  • Increased endurance walking, working, or having sex
  • Increased work capacity
  • Increased recovery because of better blood flow
  • Increased heart health

You can learn more about the benefits of exercise here!

The Different Intensities of Cardio

Cardio comes in many different forms. Here are the three you should know about:

HIIT Cardio

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, consists of short bursts of high-intensity exercise. Usually, these are 10-30 second bursts that get your heart rate up around 90% of its max, followed by a few seconds of rest.

This type of cardio doesn’t always feel like cardio and can also be done with weighted movements or in more “fun” ways.

Examples of HIIT Cardio

  • Intervals of 20-second sprints followed by 40-seconds of rest.
  • Intervals of 20-second high-intensity, high-resistance on the spin bike followed by 40 seconds of low-intensity and low-resistance.
  • Intervals of 20-second dead mills followed by 20-seconds of rest.

MISS Cardio

What is MISS cardio? MISS is moderate-intensity steady-state cardio. It typically keeps your heart rate between 140-160 BPM. This is generally what people think of when talking about cardio.

MISS cardio workouts are most effective for increasing overall cardiovascular endurance. They are a great way to build a base for other, higher intensity activities as well.

Example of MISS Cardio

What is MISS Cardio? - People on ellipticals at the gym

Elliptical, spin bike, stair master, jogging, arc trainer, rowing, treadmill, and more can all be standard MISS cardio tools.

LISS Cardio

LISS is Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio. This is any cardio activity where you keep your heart rate between 100-130 BPM.

Example of LISS

Walking, biking, elliptical, stair master, arc trainer, etc.

Steady State Cardio 

Steady State Cardio maintains the same heart rate for some time greater than 2 minutes. The last two examples are what this refers to. We often think of cardio as working for long periods but slowly, and that is cardio. Still, it can also be performed at moderate to high speeds for extended periods.

Although anything over two minutes would be considered steady state cardio, you should be able to get in at least fifteen minutes to get the full benefits.

That said, cardio doesn’t need to be this boring! It just has to be some movement that elevates your heart rate for greater than two minutes.

I tend to do HIIT for 7-15 minutes as it is more rewarding than steady-state. Many of the benefits transfer well into weight lifting.

Cardio Recommendations

If you like steady-state cardio, try running for fifteen minutes at 70% of your max heart rate. But if you don’t, try a HIIT workout like ten kettlebell swings, ten pushups, and ten jumping jacks, repeated at 70% of your max heart rate for 15 minutes.

woman doing kettlebell swings outside

Switch things up to find cardio that you enjoy while also benefiting your heart! Struggling to get into the gym? We can help with that too!

Don’t convince yourself that your workouts need to be boring to be good! The best exercises are ones you can enjoy. Even playing with your kids or practicing a sport you enjoy can fulfill your cardio needs.

Did you find what you were looking for in this article? See more like it as well as free workouts, supplement deals, and more!

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