You probably have seen these two words, HIIT and LISS pop up here and there while browsing fitness related content on social media, wondering what they exactly mean. Today we’re going to briefly introduce you to High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS) training and give you some tips to decide which training style is the most suitable for you to reach your goals.
HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING
First of all: what is HIIT exactly? HIIT is a form of training in which intervals completed with low-medium intensity are alternated with high-intensity ones. It can be applied to many forms of exercise: you can do HIIT running, biking, strength training, or combining all of these above.
So a here is a simple example just to demonstrate: after warming up, running either outside or on the treadmill, start with a 30-second high intensity phase and run as fast as you possibly can, giving it your all. Then without stopping, keep on jogging with a slower pace for a minute and repeat this circle five more times and an extra minute of cool down walking for a quick 10-minute session. But you can always experiment with it, changing up the length of the intervals: having shorter rest periods can make the training even more intense, while lengthening them makes is a bit easier, if you’re just starting out.
HIIT can help you improve both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance and it is really effective in burning fat – but at the same time, unlike a long steady state cardio session, it prevents you from actually burning muscle as well. Looking at and comparing athletes specialized for sprints and long distance underlines this point: sprinters usually have much bigger, nicely tones muscles while long distance runners tend to be rather skinny.
One of the biggest benefits of HIIT training though is that it can save you a lot of time. Using this technique you can break a sweat and have a great workout in just 15 minutes – so HIIT is perfect for those who have a busy schedule but would still like to get a good workout in.
However, as its name says it too, HIIT is pretty intense and thus your body needs more time to recover afterward. So it’s not recommended more than 2-3 times a week, otherwise it can lead to overtraining, which will hinder your overall progress.
LOW-INTENSITY STEADY STATE TRAINING
Low-intensity steady state training on the other hand includes doing an exercise at the same, rather slower pace and lower intensity for an extended period of time.* So instead of incorporating bursts of sprints, you would jog at a slower pace – but for 30-45 minutes instead of 15. As with HIIT you can do LISS for running or other types of cardio – if you are using machines it might be even more practical actually, because you don’t lose time by switching the speed or incline. Just find the suitable level, hit the start button, put some music on, turn off the world and sweat is out!
* Your heart rate should be at 50-60% of your maximum heart rate.
With LISS you will not only build your aerobic endurance but can also burn quite a lot of calories and fat. When you start out the exercise, in the first 20-25 minutes your body will still be using carbs as its main source of energy, however as you’re further along in your session, you body will start using the fat stored in your body to provide fuel – and this burn will continue even after you finish your workout.
Also, since the lower intensity of LISS allows your body to recover faster, there are fewer restrictions regarding the frequency of LISS training. And if you do it regularly and it becomes a routine, it will also get easier to stick with that routine and keep yourself on track. However, it should be noted that even with low-intensity training, your body still needs at least one day of rest a week!
You need to keep in mind though, that variety of workouts is still key: doing the same exercise in the same pace over and over again won’t be effective in the long run. Your body will get used to this workload and will not improve. So first of all, it is recommended to combine LISS -and all cardio routines actually- with strength training. Secondly, if you are doing a steady state training, try switching up the equipment every once in a while: go from the treadmill to the elliptical and to the bike. Confuse your body a bit, so it will have to adapt to the new impulses.
We hope this short introduction can help you understand these training types a little better – look out for more detailed articles and specific workout ideas about them soon!