cardio or interval training ropes

Cardio Or Interval Training?

I see that you’re trying to get your life back on the healthy track – which is why you’ve chosen to take some time off of your day to read this article.

Welcome, today I’ll help you understand and find out what fits you better – steady-state cardio or intensive training.

What are steady-state cardio and intensive training?

Steady state cardio

To keep things simple, steady-state cardio is nothing but a cardio workout that is continuous, with steady effort, as opposed to an interval cardio workout where you vary your energy input.  

Any cardiovascular or aerobic that is sustained for an extended time (10-15 minutes for beginners, and 20-90 minutes for athletes) at a fixed intensity – qualifies as a steady state exercises.

Intensive training

This is a type of training that involves a series of low to high-intensity workouts interspersed with rest or relief periods.

The high-intensive periods are typically a lot closer to anaerobic exercises, while the recovery periods involve activities of low-intensity.

One being of low-intensity (steady-state cardio), and the other a mix of high and low-intensity (interval training).

But how do these work? How do you know that they are going to help you?

Glad you asked.

Read on to find out.

How do steady-state cardio and interval training work?

Steady-state cardio

Now that you know what steady-state cardio is basically about – it’s time that we dig a little deeper to understand as to how it actually works.

Let’s take a look at the basic features and understand what it’s basically about.

  1. Steady-state cardio helps you maintain a consistent speed, level of intensity, and work rate during your exercise session.
  2. Your training intensity can be measured by maintaining a consistent work rate at a specific percentage of maximum heart rate (MHR), heart rate reserve (HRR), or aerobic capacity (VO2 max).

These are the basic features of steady-state cardio. Of course, cardio should be a part of your

workout regime. It has a ton of benefits and there are multiple ways to do it.

Let’s take a look at how steady-state cardio actually works.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to find it difficult to work out.


There are some exercise routines that take time and the weight loss process is slow.

Take steady-state cardio for example.

Well, for all the beginners out there, this is a great way to start your healthy lifestyle.

This exercise regime also works best when you’re taking a break throughout your high-intensity routine.

According to Candice Cunningham, the more that you workout, the easier it gets. That’s because your cardiovascular health gets stronger with time. And of course, that’s a good thing.

Another thing pointed out by Cunningham is that you can do a steady-state cardio workout as a warm-up before you start your intensive training.

You also have an option of doing steady-state cardio as your main exercise routine.

Some of the exercises mentioned below come under steady-state cardio:

  1. Cycling
  2. Jogging
  3. Running
  4. Brisk walking
  5. A Zumba class

These are some of the most basic exercises that come under steady-state cardio and can help you reduce weight and get in shape.

Before we move onto our next segment let’s take a look at some of the advantages of steady-state cardio.

1. It’s beginner friendly: This is for all the beginners out there, you can start off with a steady-state workout to help you get the hang of things.

Eventually, you can move on to things that are of higher intensity.

It’s a great way for you to stay in shape while providing you with those feel-good endorphins without too much discomfort.

It’s a known fact that HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is difficult but it also helps you burn more calories. But that doesn’t mean that you have to start off with that.

You could simply stick to steady-state exercises, or use them as a low-intensity exercise.

2. It promotes recovery: Have you heard of the term “baby steps?” That’s applicable here.

That’s because, if you practice HIIT back-to-back you have a higher chance of not seeing adequate results, face injuries, and face excessive fatigue.

Steady-state exercises help you recover, reduce your chances of injury, and help you get the results that you so desire.

3. It’s a great endurance booster: Steady-state exercises help you build up your endurance for all the other high-intensity exercises that you can think of.

These exercises are like the training wheels that to help you become more efficient in the future.

4. Helps bring in variety in your training plan: There are a lot of people out there who tend to get bored easily.

Since there are a variety of exercises that you can do as steady-state exercises, there won’t be a time that you do get bored.

5. It can be social: Steady-state exercises take place at a “chat pace,” which means that you can still hold a conversation while working out.

Which is why this is a rather “social” exercise that you can bring your friends along to.

So, what do you think when you look at the benefits? Do you think that it’s a good idea for you?


Hold that thought.

Let’s take a look at what interval training is all about and then you can decide, yeah?

Interval training

I’m sure that you have all the basic understanding of what steady-state training is. Let’s move onto the next stage and understand what interval training is all about.

Let’s take a look at the basic features, shall we?

  1. In this form of exercise, you have a choice to alternate between high and low-intensity exercises and active or passive recovery.
  2. Here, the higher and lower-intensity recovery periods can be measured as a percentage of MHR, HRR, VO2max, and an individual’s RPE (Rated Perceived Exertion).

Now that you’re aware of the features, you must be wondering as to how interval training actually works. Let me break it down for you.

Basically, all the exercises that you will do will vary between high and low-intensity.

For instance, you’ll be doing 4-5 reps of mountain climbing, and then you’ll shift to jogging on the spot in the middle or after you’ve finished all the reps.

In short, all the exercises that you do will help you burn more calories in a shorter time span.

A lot of people out there claim that the duration of interval training is shorter but you can reduce more calories, whereas in steady-state exercises you tend to lose a moderate amount of calories for a longer workout session.

Take a look at some of the exercises that come under interval training:

  1. Butt kicks
  2. Jump Kicks
  3. Squats
  4. Burpees
  5. Mountain climbing

These are the most basic exercises that you can do while undertaking interval training.

Now, let’s take a look at the benefits of interval training.

1. Keep burning calories for hours: Interval training is known to burn more calories than continuous aerobics training.  

Plus, the burst of increased intensity simply increases the caloric expenditure, which leads to total calories being burned and aiding in better body composition.

Also, did you know that you are bound to burn more calories 2 hours after you work out as well? Which only leads to a greater caloric burn.

2. You’re bound to stick to it: It’s been noticed that people tend to stick to interval training more than steady-state exercises.

People also enjoy HIIT more than vigorous-intensity exercise and medium-intensity exercise.

3. It can help boost your endurance: Boosting your endurance gradually, will only help you increase your overall endurance when it comes to doing hard-core exercises.

So, the next time that you go for a run, pick up the pace by 60 seconds. Adding 1 minute of HIIT (a form of interval training) which will only end up helping you boost your endurance.

4. It can be done in any form: Obviously, there are variations to almost anything in life.

Which is why it’s safe to say that interval training can be done in almost any form.

For instance, instead of sprinting, you can try out interval cycling, or burpees; and the results that you’ll achieve will be similar.

5. Interval training is time effective: HIIT is a form of interval training. According to a study it was found that sedentary men who did 40-60 minutes of cycling at 65% of their max 5 times a week, and those who did sprint interval training for less than 12 minutes each, three times a week saw similar results

Which proves the fact that interval training is time effective.

Now that we’ve covered almost all the basics it’s time to move on to something some difficult. Let’s try and figure out if steady-state cardio is as effective as interval training, or if its the other way round.

cardio or interval training

The effectiveness of interval training and steady-state cardio

Let’s start this off by breaking it into 2 parts – steady-state cardio and interval training. Before you really start, don’t forget to have a snack. Don’t have anything heavy, have a light, nutritious snack like Matcha which is a very good pre-workout snack.

Steady-state cardio

Based on all that you’ve read so far, you can easily conclude that steady-state cardio has a ton of advantages, and is a very good choice for those who are beginners, and for those who can get bored easily.

Now, let’s take a look at some more factors to try and come up with a decision to see if this form of exercise suits you.

  1. When you exercise below the required level, for an extended period of time it ends up putting less physical strain on your cardiorespiratory system, and can also be used as a way to increase your endurance level.
  2. Steady-state cardio has been found to be an effective method to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and enhance aerobic capacity.
  3. It is said to improve aerobic metabolism by increasing the mitochondrial density in muscle fibres.
  4. Steady-state cardio can help you increase your cardiac efficiency. Especially, elevating stroke volume and cardiac output when it comes to a lower heart rate.

These are some of the many factors that you can keep in mind if you ever want to consider steady-state cardio as a means of losing weight.

Let’s move on to the next segment and look at the factors of interval training.

Interval training

Interval training is said to be a good way to lose weight in a shorter time, as you’ve already read.

But why do people migrate to this form of exercising and weight loss?

Now that’s something to think about, don’t you think?

Of course, there’s the obvious answer that it helps you lose weight in a shorter time span, but what else?

Let’s find out.

  1. Interval training is said to improve aerobic capacity and or calorie burning in less time, compared to high-volume steady-state training.
  2. Interval training is a gradual process, and it can be based on an individual’s RPE (Rated Perceived Exertion – the average exertion that an individual can undertake). This allows individuals to start exercising at a relatively low level and then gradually move up the intensity scale.
  3. Interval training is a good idea for those who get distracted easily.
  4. Interval training increases EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption), which helps burn calories after you’ve completed the exercise session.
  5. Exercising above the lactate threshold (the maximum level of effort or intensity that an athlete can maintain, without the rise of lactate in their bloodstream) can help in the stimulating the production of muscle-building, and fat-burning hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factors.  

After looking at the factors of interval training, I’m sure that you’ve got an idea as to what might work for you.

Let’s see what works for you and if it’s a good idea for you to take it up.

cardio or interval training sprint

Reasons to choose

Steady-state cardio is for you if:

  1. Reduces physiological stress
  2. Helps increase your endurance
  3. Is very rejuvenating

Interval training is for you if:

  1. You have a busy schedule
  2. Change things to experience results
  3. If you’re exercising to lose weight  

If you’re an athletic person who needs to increase your muscle mass or lose weight faster – interval training is the best option for you.

And if you’re someone who likes to take their time with exercising or tend to get bored doing just one thing – then steady state cardio is the best option for you.

Last but not least, you need to pick something that fits your needs. But make sure that whatever you pick doesn’t affect you in a negative way and gives you positive results.


Just because you want to lose weight doesn’t mean that you should go for interval training, you can take your time and decide on steady-state cardio as well.

And if you’re confused, all that you have to do is scroll back up and read all that’s there on both the topics at hand.

Once you figure out which exercise method is best for you, do let us know what you think.

About the Author

Adi helps with the growth of the matcha-tea blog and is the Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Growthetics, an ROI focused growth hacking agency.