High vs. Low Intensity Training: How Often Should You LISS vs. HIIT For Weight Loss?
A lot of people want a get-fit-fast approach to fitness and in todays’ fast paced society, workouts often involve a high intensity blast, with the focus on burning the maximal number of calories in the minimum amount of time.
Many studios now focus their promotion on HIIT training, which is short for High Intensity Interval Training. This type of training involves working vigorously with a high heart rate, followed by periods of recovery which can either be rest or slower paced exercise.
The high intensity intervals are designed to give a calorie blast and turn the body into a calorie burning furnace post exercise by raising your metabolic rate.
But another recent trend seems to be emerging too, one that is slightly less hardcore perhaps. LISS training stands for Low Intensity Steady State and is growing in popularity as a training method.
What Is LISS Training?
LISS training means elevating your heart rate with any form of training but generally not increasing it above 50% maximum heart rate. This is generally sustained for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Most people won't be aware of their maximum heart rate so you can find out yours but simply doing 220 subtract your age.
Whilst doing LISS training breathing is raised above usual rates but not so much that you can’t carry on a conversation. Bonus for those of us who enjoy a social gym visit with friends! Types of LISS training you can do include:
Walking at a moderate pace.
Group exercise classes such as aerobics.
Steady cycling either on a spin-cycle bike or outdoors.
Using cardio equipment at the gym, such as the elliptical trainer, at a steady and moderate pace.
Recreational activities that can be done at a steady state, such as skateboarding or surfing.
Bonus points for LISS training as many of these don't cost you a penny!!
LISS can be used as a primary form of training for those who’s training level is relatively low, whilst for a high trained athlete this type of training can be useful for recovery on rest days.
Why Is LISS Any Good?
Let's be honest, nothing in the fitness industry can exactly be described as new. Steady state exercise at a fairly low heart rate is hardly groundbreaking work. But in a current fitness market where the majority are shouting about High intensity intervals and “go hard or go home”, LISS really does have a place.
Not all bodies are suited for these high impact, high tempo workouts, and LISS can be a more relaxing, gentler way to exercise.
For people who’s fitness levels are low or beginners, LISS is the ideal starting point. A month or so of LISS is a low risk, less intimidating entry into training, yet has the benefits of boosting work capacity and improving cardiovascular health.
For beginners or people returning from injuries, LISS has even demonstrated some increases in muscle strength. Obviously we aren't suggesting that LISS would be enough to elicit strength adaptations in highly trained athletes, but everyone needs a low impact day every now and again!
For the trained athlete, LISS is more about active recovery. The human body simply isn’t designed to sustain high intensity work day after day, and we often forget that exercise is simply a stimulus to recover. It is during our recovery time when muscles grow and adapt.
LISS training can be a great alternative to HIIT. If your goal is dropping pounds, HIIT is your way to go at least a couple of times a week. High intensity intervals burn more calories and attack the pounds. But as mentioned previously, HIIT twice a week followed by LISS three or four times a week keeps activity levels high on the days when you aren’t able to give your body yet another blast.
Our bodies love movement and using LISS within your weekly workout schedule simply gives you another option of a useful workout when you can’t quite face your heart rate being through the roof.
In a fitness industry that loves an all or nothing approach, we think there is definitely room for a bit of LISS in everyones lives! Steady state work seems to have fallen out of fashion of late; let's get it back into the mainstream and mix it into our weekly routines.