Steady State Cardio

An Introduction to Steady State Training
Steady State Cardio

    The term steady state cardio is pretty self explanatory – essentially it is cardiovascular exercise performed at a constant intensity over a given duration. The method differs largely from the other main cardio protocol, Interval Training, as it never changes from the start of the session to the end. It is perhaps the most commonly used form of training amongst recreational joggers and cyclists given its simplicity – you simply go for a run or ride! You don’t intersperse with sprints or rest; you simply maintain your pace.
    Steady State cardio is an effective stamina-building tool. Used correctly it will allow the trainee to progressively increase both their endurance and VO2 max. Typically the activity is performed at 60-80% of the trainee’s maximum heart rate. A large body of evidence has time and again proved the benefits of regularly practiced steady state cardiovascular exercise. The method is used by athletes and regular people as a means to improving cardiovascular endurance and the condition of the heart and lungs.
    The length of the session should always exceed 20 minutes of continuous activity. In the case of a total beginner, exercise for as long as possible, then take an active rest (if running for example, slow to a very light jog or walk, then pick up the speed once energy is regained). Stopping completely is a bad idea for two reasons….
  • Once you have stopped it is psychologically difficult to start again- you become used to rest.
  • Resting without movement causes a slow down in blood flow, which can lead to cramp and muscle stiffness
    1. The easy way to gauge progression with steady state cardio is to track how long it takes you to perform a certain distance. As you take less time to cover a set mileage you know you are getting faster. It doesn’t matter what means of measuring progress you use as long as it is consistent. To keep your fitness improving you can add extra distance and/or extra duration to your activity. It is important you keep progressing in order to become fitter and fitter.
      A good place to start is to run or cycle a regular distance. Plan a route that will take longer than 20 minutes and time how long it takes you, whatever your means of exercise. If you are starting out, chances are it will be pretty bloody tiring, but keep at it. Fitness doesn’t appear overnight!
      The important thing to remember here is that Steady State training is a tool on its own – not an answer to all cardio questions. Using different methods will achieve different results and will develop different physiological capabilities. The key to developing all aspects of cardiovascular fitness is to use a mixture of high intensity interval training, sprint training, Fartlek (ha!) and steady state work. By utilising all four methods the trainee will develop their base-level stamina, their speed endurance and their sprint speed. This is obviously beneficial to general stamina training and the development of all-round fitness.
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