You’ve probably come across people comparing HIIT vs LISS.
These are two popular training methods that seem to offer unique benefits, which is great.
The problem is, folks often scratch their heads wondering which of the two is better, and why.
To that end, we’ve decided to take an in-depth look at both, compare them, and help you reach an informed decision for yourself.
Let’s get into it.
What Is HIIT And What Benefits Does it Offer?
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. As its name suggests, this training modality is about doing short bursts of intense activity, followed by recovery periods.
For example, if you do a 10-second sprint, walk for a minute, and sprint again, you’re doing a form of HIIT. As long as the sprint, or burst, takes your heart rate into the 80-90% range.
That is the defining characteristic of HIIT: a heart rate in the 80-90% range of max heart rate during your high intensity burst. And then a lowered heart rate during your rest cycles.
HIIT is great because you can apply its training principles to many activities:
- Riding a bike
- HIIT at the gym
- Using an elliptical trainer
- HIIT outside
- Doing battle rope
- Lifting weights
- Doing bodyweight exercises
- Jumping rope
- And more
Most notably, HIIT is great because it allows us to burn plenty of calories. It also supports muscle gain, improves our athleticism, and takes much less time than other kinds of training. (1)
And it does not need to be complicated, although many people make it complex. Here is a simple HIIT workout.
What Is LISS And What Benefits Does It Offer?
LISS stands for low-intensity steady-state and typically refers to aerobic exercise. Unlike HIIT, where you do bursts of intense activity, the goal of LISS is to maintain a slightly elevated heart rate for the duration of your workout—for example, jogging for 30 minutes.
Similar to HIIT, LISS is also practical and versatile because you can apply the principles to various activities, including:
- Riding a bike
- Using a cardio machine
- Doing battle rope
- And much more.
LISS is beneficial because it’s more relaxing, less intense, and less physically demanding. But this doesn’t mean the modality isn’t effective.
Doing LISS burns plenty of calories, improves your endurance, and strengthens the muscles you’re using. (2)
HIIT vs LISS: Which One Is Better For You (And Why)?
Comparing HIIT vs. LISS is difficult because we have to look at many factors. It comes down to individual differences, available time to train, preferences, goals, and much more. It never hurts to try both approaches for a while, see how each impacts you, and go from there.
We recommend approaching high-intensity interval training with caution because this training modality is incredibly demanding, and the risk of injury is higher. Specifically, take extra time to warm up before each session and gradually increase the intensity over several weeks.
Low-intensity steady-state exercise is more forgiving, the risk of injury is smaller, and you don’t need the same skill level to do it effectively. Because of these reasons, LISS is more suited for beginners.
Since it causes less stress to your tissues, the risk of developing aches is smaller. Plus, since technique is easier to master, you can more easily get started with it. (3)
But even for seasoned pros, it’s good to have some variation in your workout approach. So including both HIIT and LISS is a good idea, and will provide a well-rounded approach to staying fit. And you can’t go all out each day, so LISS is great for days when you’re not quite feeling it, but still want some exercise.
In any case, you should always listen to your body and not push through pain. If you ever feel injured, take a step back and do activities that allow you to keep exercising without aggravating the achy area.
Click to read more high intensity workouts.
1. Belluz, J. (2019). How to get the most out of your exercise time, according to science. Vox. https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/1/10/18148463/high-intensity-interval-training-hiit-orangetheory.
2. Lindberg, S. (2019). LISS cardio: Benefits vs. hiit, heart Rate, workout. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/liss-cardio#.
3. Fargo, M. (2020). What exactly is liss & what’s it good for? Your full guide to the fat burning exercise. Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/fitness/strength-training/a703183/what-is-liss-low-intensity-steady-state-exercise/.