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Healthy Balance

What Is “Steady State Cardio”? Try This Low-Intensity Workout to Burn Fat

elliptical training steady state cardio

In recent years, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been all the rage in the fitness world. Now there’s reason to believe that low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio is the way to go for weight loss and burning fat. It's also good for your heart.

This slow and steady training method focuses on consistent effort at a lower intensity for longer periods of time. The idea is to keep your heart rate steady — at 60% to 80% of your maximum heart rate — for the entire workout.

Clearly, you will burn calories with either steady state cardio or HIIT. Yet the science behind LISS shows that if your heart rate goes too high, you’re mostly burning glucose (sugar). Slower, lower-intensity workouts are better for burning body fat. They also help improve heart health because they keep your heart working at a higher-than-resting rate for extended periods of time.

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Typical LISS workouts can last anywhere from 15 minutes for beginners to 90 minutes for those who are more experienced. Here are some steady state cardio activities to try:

Because the steady state cardio workouts tend to be lower impact, almost anyone can do them. So if burpees or power jumps aren’t your thing, you can still get an effective and safe, fat-burning cardiovascular workout. 

Just remember that “low-intensity” and “low-impact” don’t mean chilling on the elliptical for an hour without breaking a sweat. Be sure you’re putting in enough effort. If you can easily chat with your workout bestie on the next treadmill, it’s time to step up your game.

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