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View Full Version : Why Steady State Cardio Sucks



Leah
05-01-2006, 10:44 PM
The problem is that aerobics or long duration steady state cardio turns your body into an efficient fat burning machine. On the surface this looks good. The only tissue that burns fat is muscle and while aerobic training does demand work from the muscles, it's nowhere near the demands of other tissues. Becoming more efficient means you use LESS. Think of a car. If your car was more efficient at burning gas, you'd be using less of it right? Not good.

The biggest problem with aerobic training is that you get better at it - again, the efficiency factor. With resistance training, as you get better you can add weight, more reps, etc. With endurance cardio as you become more and more efficient (better conditioned) the effort and energy and fuel cost to run for say 5 miles gets less and less. So if you're to improve you either have to run farther (do more cardio) or do it faster. So by this logic you're going to have to do more and more and more cardio over time to achieve the same effect that you used to get from less cardio. This assumes that as your conditioning improves you don't automatically work harder, which you should be anyway. That kinda sucks. This is why some people just do a ton. They have to. But you can only do so much. So then you have to do it faster - but there is an end point with aerobic training, that is, with sufficient intensity, it becomes anaerobic. So if you opted for running harder instead of longer (to achieve the same effect) you're going to hit a point where it's no longer aerobic in nature anyway.

Why not just do anaerobic work to begin with?

As with resistance training, with intense interval work - alternating periods of intense activity with short rest intervals - the above problems don't come into play. One, you're never doing it for a long time as it's not an aerobic task. Length of activity is not a goal. Two, fitness isn't an issue either because your goal is to always perform at or close to your maximum potential. So even as your conditioning and fitness improves, the adaptations aren't an issue because they enable you to perform at a higher level. If you got in better shape, and didn't pick up the pace and work harder, then sure, no more benefits after a certain point. But if you're working harder as your ability to work harder increases, you're following the overload principle. It's like weight training. If you can bench 100lbs and you always bench 100lbs, are you going to continually progress? Of course not.

So, where is the logic to doing an hour of steady state cardio twice per day? Over time you become efficient, which means this activity burns less and less energy over time. You'll have to do more to get the same caloric cost.

Simply not a wise use of time.

Score two points for interval training.

All that said, there is nothing wrong with steady state cardio. It too is a good tool to use when dieting. Too much HIIT while in a caloric deficit and coupled with a couple intense lower body sessions per week will most likely have a negative impact on one, leg recovery and two, possibly lower body muscle loss. Extreme use of either HIIT OR steady state cardio is an unwise approach. Likely the most sane approach is a combination of both - say perhaps a couple intense interval sessions and a couple longer duration steady state sessions. Adjust accordingly from there.
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Martaleigh
05-01-2006, 10:47 PM
Thanks for that...it was awesome!

Kathryn
05-02-2006, 05:41 AM
Awesome! Leah, just reafirming my routine.....is 2 lower body sessions, with 2-3 HIIT and 1-2 SS alright...I'm pretty sure it is..just double checking though...oh yea
I heart you for starting a new board!! :D

Blondell
05-02-2006, 05:39 PM
What should be done if someone has gotten into the slump of ss cardio and are no longer losing fat? Should they switch it up to intervals? And if so, will this cause the body to lower its resistance of fat burning?

Leah
05-02-2006, 06:19 PM
Originally posted by Kathryn@May 2 2006, 01:41 AM
Awesome! Leah, just reafirming my routine.....is 2 lower body sessions, with 2-3 HIIT and 1-2 SS alright...I'm pretty sure it is..just double checking though...oh yea
I heart you for starting a new board!! :D
I think I'd do only 2 HIIT

Leah
05-02-2006, 06:23 PM
Originally posted by bdd814@May 2 2006, 01:39 PM
What should be done if someone has gotten into the slump of ss cardio and are no longer losing fat? Should they switch it up to intervals? And if so, will this cause the body to lower its resistance of fat burning?
Definitely add intervals...just as T says above...to continue progress on SS you have to do more and more....w/ intervals...you don't get that same adaptation unless you stop pushing yourself. As your fitness level improves w/ HIIT, you will be able to increase your intensity and continue making progress but w/ SS, as your fitness level improves you need to go longer in order to get the same progress, cause as T says...you are more efficient.

mybell
05-03-2006, 02:00 PM
I've been doing 2 HIITs + 1or 2 SS a week for the past 4 months. Along with 3 full body workouts a week. (Going on my 6th week of full body workouts, before that I was doing 4 days, 1 body part a week) I'm hitting a plateau with the weight loss. My goal right now is to lean down. ( I can post diet if that will help) What would yours(anyones) suggestion be on what I can do to get out of the plateau.

When I started the HIIT, I noticed changes right away. Then when I started the full body that helped again. Now the changes are slowing down again.

I'm waiting for my plan Thunder, so maybe just keep up with this till then, though I wouldn't mind trying something new till then.

Thanks.

Erik
05-03-2006, 02:03 PM
How long have you been in a caloric deficit? When was the last time you brought calories back up to maintenance for 2 weeks?

mybell
05-03-2006, 02:05 PM
I honestly don't know the last time I took in maintenace calories. So, probably too long.

Erik
05-03-2006, 02:06 PM
Originally posted by mybell@May 3 2006, 10:05 AM
I honestly don't know the last time I took in maintenace calories. So, probably too long.
I suggest you get to it right now. It will make my job much, much easier and your progress once we start, that much better.

mybell
05-03-2006, 02:09 PM
So maintence calories would be 13 x body weight? 13 x 153lbs = 1989 to 2000 a day?

Does that sound right? I'll start today... :angel:

Erik
05-03-2006, 02:10 PM
Originally posted by mybell@May 3 2006, 10:09 AM
So maintence calories would be 13 x body weight? 13 x 153lbs = 1989 to 2000 a day?

Does that sound right? I'll start today... :angel:
I'd go no less than 14x BW.

mybell
05-03-2006, 02:15 PM
Thanks, I'll start off with 2150 a day.

donnajo
06-29-2006, 06:17 PM
Originally posted by Thunder@May 3 2006, 09:03 AM
How long have you been in a caloric deficit? When was the last time you brought calories back up to maintenance for 2 weeks?
So if your goal is fat loss, how long should you go sub maintenance and how long would you do maintenance once you hit a plateau?

Michael_70
06-30-2006, 05:23 AM
Originally posted by Leah@May 1 2006, 05:44 PM
All that said, there is nothing wrong with steady state cardio. It too is a good tool to use when dieting. Too much HIIT while in a caloric deficit and coupled with a couple intense lower body sessions per week will most likely have a negative impact on one, leg recovery and two, possibly lower body muscle loss. Extreme use of either HIIT OR steady state cardio is an unwise approach. Likely the most sane approach is a combination of both - say perhaps a couple intense interval sessions and a couple longer duration steady state sessions. Adjust accordingly from there.
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Leah/Thunder,

Thanks for this info. I've been reading about HIIT and will have to incorporate this into my workout.

Good info.

Leah
06-30-2006, 12:31 PM
Originally posted by donnajo@Jun 29 2006, 02:17 PM
So if your goal is fat loss, how long should you go sub maintenance and how long would you do maintenance once you hit a plateau?
Your second question is answered in your quote.

How long you can diet for is gonna be an individual thing but the type of diet you use is also going to play a factor in it. If you are using periodic refeeds or even carb cycling I think you'll be able to diet a bit longer than if you were using just a straight low cal/low carb diet.

gymgurl
06-30-2006, 04:43 PM
Thanks for posting that. One thing I don't quite understand,

lets say someone is eating 1600 calories and is doing an hour of cardio a day burning about 500 calories a session (which is most likely undereating for the activity and their weight is at a standstill). Now, obviously this much cardio is not ideal so they want to start cutting back from it and do some HIIT instead and then also reduce the amount of SS still further.

How should they change their calories at this point in order to prevent gaining bodyfat (since they aren't burning those 500 calories anymore - granted they will be burning a great deal during HIIT but I wouldn't think it would be that much. It seems wrong to decrease further from 1600 but if they didn't wouldn't they be above mainenance then?

Erik
06-30-2006, 04:58 PM
Said person wouldn't be gaining bodyfat unless they were above maintenance. Maintenance is easily approximated without having to worry about what cardio is doing. And even if you approximated it wrong, you assess yourself biweekly and make adjustments to your intake/expenditure from there.

gymgurl
06-30-2006, 05:11 PM
thanks for the reply.

But if their weight was just at a standstill doing all that cardio, not gaining or losing. When they cut out all the steady state cardio, would it cause them to gain weight if they kept their calories the same?

Erik
06-30-2006, 05:18 PM
Originally posted by gymgurl@Jun 30 2006, 01:11 PM
thanks for the reply.

But if their weight was just at a standstill doing all that cardio, not gaining or losing. When they cut out all the steady state cardio, would it cause them to gain weight if they kept their calories the same?
Maybe, maybe not.

It depends on a number of variables. Quite often cutting out some of the cardio is just what's needed to get the fat loss going again if the combination of the caloric deficit and the activity expenditure is too much.

Regardless, you'll know if you have to make adjustments to whatever it is you're doing within a couple weeks.

gymgurl
06-30-2006, 05:24 PM
ahh, okay, that makes sense. I guess just sort of have to see how it goes and then make adjustments.

mindy8013
06-18-2011, 05:13 PM
Wow,
Thank you so much for posting and starting this thread. I feel that it has spoken to me personally... I have been constantly running (doing SS for about 4 years now) and I have plateaued long ago...:( but I didn't know what to do...:shrug: so I upped my length doing cardio- and still nothing..
So now starting last week I have dropped the SS cardio down, started doing interval cardio and wt training... Hopefully this will get my body in gear again!! Thanks again

byootie
06-21-2011, 10:20 PM
Same here Mindy. Good job on switching it up. That is certainly going to help you!

This is the second time I'm reading this today about steady state and how you have to keep increasing the length of time. I have cut out steady state and only do HIIT and some Tabata and I am maintaining my weight just fine and my weight training is so much more productive! Thanks for the info and for reaffirming what I "thought" I already knew.

Erin

Erik
06-21-2011, 11:02 PM
http://leanbodiesconsulting.com/articles/SS+Cardio%2C+Efficiency+and+The+Escalade+Vs+The+Ci vic+

byootie
06-22-2011, 03:39 AM
Great article Erik! Thanks I hadn't read that one yet.

Rebecca
06-22-2011, 04:13 AM
That was a great article! Thank you, Erik!

Makes me happy - not a fan of plodding along for hours on end. Would rather look like a bikini model than a marathoner, just sayin'. Plus, I am not training for a sport. I'm training for life. :)

lforster13
04-04-2012, 04:43 PM
Maybe, maybe not.

It depends on a number of variables. Quite often cutting out some of the cardio is just what's needed to get the fat loss going again if the combination of the caloric deficit and the activity expenditure is too much.

Regardless, you'll know if you have to make adjustments to whatever it is you're doing within a couple weeks.

Erik, this was a complete light bulb moment for me! I have halted my daily hour of cardio and have focused just on lifting heavy the past week and I've already noticed huge changes in my physique. I just came off of a show, so I was already lean, but I thought I had to keep doing mindless cardio every day. I even added in my post workout caramel rice cakes and have been trying to get over my "fear" of carbs. I can't get enough of all this info and I'm so excited to be added to the waitlist. With the changes I've seen in just a week, I'm pumped to see what happens when I'm actually working directly with you.

fsuburton
04-07-2012, 03:29 AM
I have a good friend that thinks cardio should be the only thing done in regards to leaning up. I think she may be wrong.