If you’re a fitness enthusiast, you’re probably very familiar with the LISS and HIIT terms, as well as their roles and health benefits. But, if you’re new to the whole cardio-based exercise, here’s what you should know.
LISS or low-intensity steady state exercise is a type of cardio workout that involves a low level of strain and exertion for a long time. On the other side of the spectrum is HIIT, or high-intensity interval training where you alternate short bursts of high-intensive movement with periods of rest or very low-intensity movement.
During LISS, your heart rate stays steady and doesn’t require much strain or energy from your end, and during HIIT, your heart rate jumps close to the maximum during the high-intensity bursts and slows down during rest periods. There are plenty of benefits in both and experts can’t seem to agree on which one is better, but there are some factors of LISS that make it suitable for an overall larger group of people than HIIT.
LISS is a cardio-based workout and just as such, brings on a variety of health benefits for your cardiovascular system. It helps improve your blood flow, reduces stress levels, relieves tension, lubricates your joints, strengthens your heart muscle, and even boosts your mood. But, there are some specific benefits to its low-intensity steady state characteristic that makes it so popular amongst the majority of people.
Spice up your workouts.
Low-intensity workouts push your heart rate to 40-50% of its maximum, rarely ever going over. This makes it gentler on your body and your cardiovascular system, making it a great option even when you’re fatigued, sore from previous workouts, unable to perform higher levels of exertion, or recovering from an injury or disease.
Additionally, older people can also benefit from this type of cardio exercise as short bursts of a higher heart rate could be harmful. In fact, studies show how LISS could have a great, positive impact on the physical and cognitive abilities and health of seniors.
Perfect for your LISS workouts.
Even though there are studies that showcase LISS is better for fat loss than HIIT, there are also studies with the opposite results. But, whatever the case may be, all studies still conclude that both types of cardio exercise are beneficial for weight loss and fat loss. LISS contributes to fat loss by helping your body utilize fat for fuel instead of glucose, helping you drive from your fat storage.
Since the strain on your body is low to moderate, there is less chance of developing soreness and a build-up of lactic energy in your muscles. That’s why LISS is an awesome option for recovery on active rest days and situations where you don’t want to go too hard but also want to do an efficient workout.
LISS is also a great training option for those who want to build their endurance as it puts less stress on the body, making you adapt to longer workouts easier and faster.
A good and sturdy home treadmill you can count on.
You might be reading this and thinking to yourself that HIIT cardio equates to an hour of low-intensity jogging, but in fact, it can be any type of cardiovascular activity you can do for a long period of time and that won’t raise your heart rate over 50% of your maximum.
Some of the most popular LISS activities include:
Even walking can be a form of LISS, especially if you include some hills into it. Go for a walk around your neighborhood and try to keep your heart rate around 40-50% of its maximum and you’ll get the same benefits you would if you were on your bike.
Most usually, LISS workouts are around 45-60 minutes long, which might be their biggest drawback since not everyone can carve out that much time out of their busy schedule. But that’s why knowing how even an hour walk can bring your all of the LISS benefits could help change your perspective.
For the low-impact at-home workouts.
Another common negative side of LISS is the potential of getting bored while performing it. HIIT doesn’t give you much time to think or become bored as you’re busy counting down the seconds of your high-intensive push, but LISS can quickly become hard to motivate yourself for. It’s important to find something you can pair with LISS to make it as easy on you as possible.
Depending on the type of LISS you’re doing, there are plenty of activities you can multitask. If you’re jogging or cycling, you can listen to music or a podcast you never have the time for; if you’re on the treadmill or the elliptical, you can watch a movie or YouTube videos; and if your preferred LISS exercise of choice is walking or hiking, you can use the opportunity to catch up with a friend or spend some time developing a creative idea in your head.
For those who want to do cardio at home but don't have the space for a treadmill.
If you’re interested in giving LISS a go, first and foremost you need to dedicate at least 45-60 minutes of your time to it without rushing or thinking about how you need to finish as soon as possible. The more stress you put into your LISS workout, the greater the strain on your body and you won’t be able to tap into your fat storage for fuel.
Secondly, find an activity you can do if you get bored. Getting bored half through your workout will make it harder for you to finish, causing you to forget about your posture and increase your risk of injury. It will also demotivate you from wanting to do it again, potentially even having you quit before the 45 minutes have elapsed. It’s always good to have a plan B so you push through the fatigue and boredom.
And thirdly, take it slow. Start with one to two LISS sessions per week and see how your body feels. Once you start getting better at utilizing fat for fuel and increasing your fitness level, you can add HIIT and other forms of workouts into your week. But, most importantly, don’t overdo it as even walking for too long can cause a strain in your lower back or leg muscles and make you need to take a step back.
Track your heart rate during LISS and HIIT.
Cardio exercise is important for your overall cardiovascular and muscular health. LISS may be easier to start with, but don’t neglect HIIT exercises and alternate them to get the benefits of both!