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60 Minutes of Steady Cardio vs. 20 Minutes of Intervals

author image Bill Dowis
Bill Dowis was the founding editor of "The 316 Journal," a theology and poetry journal. He covers health, fitness, food and photography, among other topics. Based in southern New Jersey, Dowis also works in banking.
60 Minutes of Steady Cardio vs. 20 Minutes of Intervals
Cardio Photo Credit: ViktorCap/iStock/Getty Images

There is a great debate over which is more efficient for weight loss -- steady-state cardio or high-intensity interval training. The truth is that both steady-state and interval workouts are beneficial. Integrating both into your workout routine, along with a balanced diet, will produce significant weight loss results, but each has its pros and cons.

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Steady-State Training

Steady-state training is any aerobic or cardiovascular workout that is done for an extended period of time, usually 30 to 60 minutes, at a consistent intensity. The positives are that steady-state training burns a great deal of calories during the exercise, can be done more frequently than interval training and is good for beginners who are still adapting their body to exercise. The downsides of steady cardio are that it can be boring for an extended period of time, the burn of calories does not extend long after the exercise is completed and too much of the same movement can cause overuse injuries, which are common in cycling and running.

Interval Training

Interval training is exercise that is broken up into a period of high-intensity exercise followed by a low-intensity "rest" and then repeated for 20 to 30 minutes. An example might be sprinting for 30 seconds and then walking for 90 seconds. The pros of interval training are that less time is required for the workout; it improves the muscles' ability to use fat for fuel; and it burns more calories post-exercise than steady state does. The cons are that it should only be done two or three times per week; beginners may have a difficult time with the intensity of the workout; and exercise with high impact, such as running, has a higher risk of injury.

Balanced Exercise Routine and Diet

Both steady-state and interval training have their benefits. You should not rely on just one or the other for weight loss and fitness goals. Integrating various exercises into your workout schedule will be a benefit to you and help you achieve your fitness goals. It is also important not to rely on only exercise. Balancing your diet with your workout will give you more energy and fuel for the workout while controlling calories and weight loss.


Always check with your doctor before starting or adjusting your exercise routine. Workouts need to be tailored to you and your specific fitness situation. Ask your doctor what your body is capable of and use his input when deciding on a diet and workout routine.

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