The world of exercise and fitness is riddled with all kinds of cryptic acronyms (e.g., HIIT, BPM, VO2, BMI, etc.), some of which represent certain workouts or training styles that claim to be the "ultimate way" to get or stay in shape. One of the most recent additions to this list is LISS, a genre of exercise that has gained immense popularity on Instagram as a great way to burn fat, build endurance, and boost your overall fitness level. So what exactly is LISS all about, and can it really help you lose weight? Below are some key points to know about this red-hot new fitness trend.
So, What is LISS?
LISS stands for Low-Intensity Steady State (or Low-Intensity Sustained State), a style of training that focuses on low-impact exercises that are performed over a prolonged period of time (think 60 minutes to two hours). The basic premise behind LISS is similar to the classic "tortoise vs. hare" comparison--instead of hitting a workout hard-and-heavy for a brief period of time (e.g., CrossFit, High-Intensity Interval Training, etc.), LISS takes the tortoise route by focusing on exerting moderate effort over a longer time frame.
What Type of Exercises Fall Under the LISS Category?
The beauty of LISS is that it keeps things very simple. Engaging in a brisk walk for an hour, riding your bike to work, training moderately on the elliptical machine, swimming for a couple of hours, or working out on a rowing machine all represent LISS-style activities. Many newcomers to fitness training find LISS to be a great fit, because it's far less intimidating to go for a leisurely swim than to jump into a grueling boot camp right out the gate.
With LISS exercises, you can build your endurance and stamina over time, which will better prepare you for more advanced workouts later down the road. For people who are already engaging in high-intensity workouts on a regular basis, they can use LISS as a form of active rest or recovery on their off-days.
Is LISS Actually "New"?
The way the LISS concept is being presented is new, but the actual exercises are not. So why the surging popularity? This is due in large part to the viral appeal of Instagram superstar Kayla Itsines, an Australian fitness guru and LISS evangelist who has championed the workout as a way to lose fat and sculpt your body into bikini-ready shape.
One important thing to note is that while Itsines often lauds LISS for its fat-burning benefits, the popular trainer recommends incorporating a mixture of short and long workouts (i.e., HIIT and LISS respectively) in order to achieve optimal results.
So Can LISS Really Help You Lose Weight?
The short answer is "yes," but it may not be the type of weight you want to lose. According to fitness experts, the metabolic process that is triggered from a LISS workout is quite different than what your body experiences from a high-intensity workout. In short, LISS exercises tend to cause the body to shed overall weight--including muscle--versus HIIT, which targets stubborn fat deposits more accurately.
So if you're training using LISS exercises alone, you will likely thin out, but you may lose muscle as well. The best approach is to keep everything balanced by using a combination of high-intensity workouts and LISS training, such as doing a high intensity workout on Monday and then a LISS workout on Tuesday as a form of active rest. In addition, pay close attention to nutrition as well, so that you can properly fuel your body and help it recover.
While LISS carries certain positive benefits, it's important to remember that each person's body is different. Your best gauge for the effectiveness of any workout will always be a quick look in the mirror. If you've been at it for a while and you don't see any results, it may be time to make some changes, but if your workout is making a very obvious difference, you'll know that you're headed in the right direction.