5 WAYS to Maximize Steady-State Training
By Eric Velazquez, NSCA-CPT | Thursday, March 29, 2012 10:40:57 AM America/New_York
Goals: Conditioning, Fat Loss
The reputation of steady-state cardio has taken a "HIIT" in recent years with the volumes of research affirming the fat-burning benefits of high-intensity cardio. Still, "some" cardio beats "none" and if you haven't yet jumped on the high-intensity interval bandwagon, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your lower-intensity sessions.
1: DON'T GO EMPTY
Running on an empty stomach is great for fat loss. If you hit the bricks before breakfast, your body tends to start burning fat for fuel faster because your stored carbohydrate, which is your primary fuel source, is limited. But if you want to reduce the risk of losing your hard-earned muscle, don't go completely empty. Instead, take in 5-10 grams of BCAA s, which serve as fuel and aid in muscle preservation during exercise, about 30 minutes before training.
In general, cardio is the most tedious form of training known to man. So another good tip is to take 200-400 grams of caffeine anhydrous 30 minutes before cardio. This wonder supp does everything you want it to do for your mindless runs including delaying time to fatigue, increasing mental clarity and blunting pain. This can help you push through an otherwise difficult bout on the treadmill with greater gusto, no matter when you're training.
3: DO IT POST-WORKOUT
A great time for low-intensity training is after weights. As with morning cardio, you are working on a glycogen (stored carbohydrate) deficit. This means that you'll tap into those stubborn fat stores sooner than you would if you were doing a cardio-only session. Mix in 20-30 minutes after your heavy weight training to maximize the amount of fat you can burn in a single trip to the gym.
4: GO BEYOND THE TREADMILL
If you do your cardio in the gym (as opposed to outdoors), then choosing the right equipment is critical. The treadmill is great work for your entire body but at low intensities, you can do yourself a favor by trying different equipment. The cross-trainer, or "elliptical with handles," is a strong choice because it engages your upper body musculature during the workout, meaning that you get to mobilize fat from more areas of your body. With the right resistance, it also mimics high-rep pushes and pulls for your chest and back. The stepmill also provides some high-volume work for your glutes, quads and hamstrings, further adding to your leg training quota for the week. Also, varying the type of equipment you use will help to make your steady-state training more enjoyable.
RELATED: Read here for LESS CARDIO, MORE RESULTS
5: MAKE IT CHALLENGING
Have you been doing the same type, duration and intensity of cardio forever? Our bet is that you've probably long-since plateaued, which means that you're just doing cardio for kicks - not to actually get leaner. Every week, change the type of cardio you're doing, add minutes or increase intensity to keep your body responding with metabolic enthusiasm.