Some people really enjoy steady state cardio and that’s ok, but it’s really important when you’re working on a fitness plan to include some interval style cardio as well. Intervals help you to burn calories even after your cardio session ends because you’re alternating between periods of hard work and periods of rest, which speeds up your metabolism. Interval style cardio can be incorporated into a lot of different types of activities depending on what you enjoy, the goal is just to work really hard and get your heartrate to increase significantly and then to recover and allow your heartrate to slow back down. I like running and one way I like to get my cardio in is by running for short periods of time at a fast pace and then walking for a long enough time to allow my heartrate to slow. I usually do 3-5 minutes of high effort and 2-3 minutes of recovery repeated for about 30 minutes when I’m running outdoors. If my workout has to be indoors, I usually go for the elliptical or a spin bike and alternate 1 minute of max effort and 45 seconds of recovery for about 20 minutes.
Interval style cardio doesn’t have to be running or cycling, you can do interval style walking if you’re new to fitness. This is a style of cardio I recommend to my coaching clients who haven’t started any sort of fitness program yet. You alternate between a few minutes of fast-paced walking and a few minutes of slow walking. Once your body starts to get used to the intervals, you can progress to jogging or running your intervals.
Now, I know there are a lot of people who enjoy steady state cardio, especially running. I enjoy running and don’t always run in intervals, sometimes it just feels good to run a few miles and that’s fine. Steady state cardio isn’t bad, the disadvantage of steady state is that it doesn’t boost your metabolism beyond the time you’re exercising so once that run is over, the calorie burn is over too. With intervals, your body continues burning calories at a higher rate for a longer period of time after the workout is over.