Five Seasons Family Sports Club Blog

HIIT vs. LISS: What You Need to Know

Posted by Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 4/18/17 9:00 AM

The fitness world is replete with cardio trends, but among the many different types of cardio workouts that have emerged in recent years, two have really grabbed the spotlight as of late: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Low Intensity Steady State cardio (LISS). Below are some need-to-know points about each type of workout, as well as how they compare with one another. 

HIIT Workouts

As the name suggests, HIIT workouts involve performing high-intensity exercises within a relatively short period of time (e.g., 20-45 minutes), often using various rounds of intervals as a way to keep your exercises on a "loop" until the time period expires. Popular examples of HIIT workouts include CrossFit, Tabata and spinning. These high-intensity workout sessions are typically followed by a low-intensity period of recovery, which helps to balance out your body's anaerobic and aerobic systems. HIIT has been lauded as an effective way to burn fat while also trimming the body down through building lean muscle. Anyone who has tried a HIIT workout will tell you that it will definitely get your heart rate going, providing your body with incredible cardiovascular benefits. In addition, HIIT workouts are a great way to increase your endurance, as you will definitely have to learn how to push past the place of "hitting the wall" when you engage in these workouts. 

LISS Workouts

LISS workouts, on the other hand, are low-intensity cardio workouts that primarily employ the body's aerobic systems through maintaining a steady level of intensity throughout the duration of the workout (typically 20-60 minutes). LISS workouts are designed to have you working at about 45 percent to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate, and since they're not nearly as intense as HIIT workouts, they can be performed five to six days a week, versus only two to three times per week for HIIT. Although LISS workouts take an entirely different approach than their no-holds-barred HIIT counterpart, they can still promote fat loss, because when you exercise at a lower but sustained rate of intensity, your body automatically taps into fat stores as your primary source of energy. 

HIIT vs. LISS: What You Need to Know

While there are quite a few differences between HIIT and LISS, both types of workouts have been shown to improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, boost anaerobic and aerobic fitness levels, increase insulin sensitivity (this helps your muscles use glucose for fuel during workouts), and maintain muscle mass while reducing abdominal fat. So which one is better? Well, it depends upon your lifestyle and fitness goals. For example, many people choose HIIT for the simple reason that you can cram a lot of exercise into a smaller time frame, which really helps when you're working with a very tight schedule. A study cited by MedicalDaily revealed that performing just 27 minutes of HIIT three times per week produced the same aerobic and anaerobic effects as 60 minutes of a more moderate cardio workout performed 5 times per week. When you're pressed for time but you still want to get in a solid workout, HIIT is a great option. It should be noted, however, that with HIIT, you run a higher risk of injury due to the increased level of intensity. 

As far as LISS goes, it has been recognized as being useful for reducing muscle along with fat, if that's what your needs require. In addition, you won't need as much cool-down time with LISS, but it will require more time to perform the overall workout. In terms of boosting your basal metabolic rate – i.e., the amount of calories you burn at restHIIT is the winner in this category because it keeps your metabolism revved up even hours after you've finished your workout. With LISS workouts, however, practically all of the calories burned will happen at the time you perform the workout. It might be worth it to look into incorporating both HIIT and LISS into your fitness regimen, as each type of workout offers distinct benefits, and there's certainly no rule against it. Just be sure to consider each type of workout in light of your particular fitness objectives, and make your decision accordingly.

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Topics: Fitness