What is Low Intensity Cardio (Or Moderate)?
Low/moderate intensity cardio (also sometimes referred to as steady state cardio) refers to a cardiovascular workout that almost constantly keeps your heart rate in a range that is between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate.
Your maximum heart rate can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. This 60-80% of your maximum heart rate is sometimes referred to as the ‘fat burn zone’ because the majority of calories burned in this zone are coming from fat. This obviously contributes massively to the high popularity of this type of training.
Is Low Intensity Cardio Effective?
Yes, low/moderate intensity cardio is effective at getting you fitter and finding out your base level of fitness if you’ve just started. It can also be used as a good fat loss tool if you use it at least 4 times a week in conjunction with a balanced diet.
Not to mention, it is great if you’ve just had a heavy weights session (I personally can’t do effective HIIT after a weights session and I imagine there are many people in the same boat) because low intensity, steady state cardio uses your fat stores for energy quicker after you’ve had a decent weights session. If you can’t use HIIT training due to it’s intensity for any reason then low-moderate intensity cardio is your best bet.
Any Negatives To Low Intensity Cardio Training?
You would think that using low intensity cardio to lose weight fast is ideal because you’re always working in the ‘fat burn zone’ however, this has been shown to be quite a big misconception. Nobody disputes that you are burning a greater percentage of fat calories whilst training with a lower intensity but it can also be seen that you burn more total fat calories if you’re using HIIT. Confused? Check the simple math below..
Low Intensity for 30 mins
– 300 calories burned using 70% fat calories = 210 calories burned from fat
HIIT Training for 30 mins – 425 calories burned using 55% fat calories = 233.75 calories burned from fat
So you’ve burnt a greater amount of fat calories as well as a greater amount of total calories due to the higher intensity of HIIT training.
These figures are only part of the equation too. With HIIT training you get an ‘afterburn’ effect (explained with more detail in the HIIT section) where your metabolism stays elevated for a day, burning more calories. This makes HIIT the ultimate ‘burn fat cardio’ in my humble opinion.
Really, the only negative to low intensity cardio is its efficiency compared to HIIT but if you do want to progress down this higher intensity path make sure that you’re mentally and physically equipped for the challenge! These workouts are a completely different animal!
Where and With What Equipment Can You Do Low Intensity Cardio Training?
Again, you can use low/moderate intensity anywhere and with anything. You can do your cardio on the treadmill, bike, cross trainer, swimming etc you can use the protocol pretty much wherever you are if you use a bit of imagination.
However, if you’re worried that you might deviate out of your 60-80% heart rate range then I’d recommend that you purchase a heart rate monitor so you can adjust your intensity appropriately. (Unless your machine has heart rate sensors e.g treadmill, bike and the cross trainer)