Cardiovascular – Which way? HIIT or LISS?

Let’s find out.

Cardio ― Does that give you jitters and a dreadful thought about running on the treadmill for hours to lose that fat and extra weight? Or is it a “me time” for you? Be it whatever, it definitely helps to burn some calories. It’s that activity which is a benefit to your health if included in your daily routine.

For some, the cardio exercise is a therapeutic activity session.

▸ But what all do you include in a cardio session?

▸ How do you feel that therapy working for you?

▸ Do you feel it through low-intensity cardio or high-intensity cardio?

The 2 main approaches of a cardio workout and fitness regime are HIIT and LISS. They are:

HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training

LISS: Low-Intensity Steady State

These 2 mentioned forms of a cardio workout are very effective and particularly very easy to adopt – especially for the working generation.

When we talk about a cardiovascular activity regime, there are basically 2 types, namely: Aerobic endurance and Anaerobic endurance. Here, the aerobic type is associated with a LISS cardio whereas the anaerobic is associated with HIIT.

Let’s find out what both the types are and how beneficial they are, or which one is better – A high-intensity interval training vs low-intensity cardio (or you can say HIIT vs LISS).

1) HIIT

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. By this, we mean that performing a high-intensity activity for short durations like 30 seconds which consume 95% of your energy and then following a moderately longer rest time.

A HIIT for weight loss usually lasts or should last up to 20-25 minutes where you do a high-intensity sprint for short period and then move to a less intensive recovery period where you can do a HIIT walking. One should continue this alternating pattern until you’re exhausted to continue further.

HIIT for weight loss
Freepik

A few examples of a HIIT activity are sprinting, soccer (for those who love sports), Tabata workouts, and circuit training. Tabata type regime, if practiced properly, maybe the most effective of the HIIT for fat loss. The catch is to do the intervals correctly with maximal intensity to see the effect.

Now the question is ― What is Tabata?

Tabata is a form of HIIT, where exercise is done for about 4 minutes. In these 4 minutes, you should be able to complete 4 rounds of 20-second high-intensity workout followed by 10-seconds rest. One can do burpees, squats or push-ups in Tabata.

Been wondering what could be an outcome of the Tabata? A 4-minute workout will definitely give you results in the form of calorie and fat burn during the session as well as long after your session.

As a beginner, what you need to do is plan a 20-second squat and 10-second rest cycle. Repeat it for 8 times and you’re set to lose those extra kilos and fat. Another could be spinning on the bike for about 15 seconds at high intensity followed by 45-second low-intensity recovery, repeating it for about 8 minutes.

The origin of HIIT has dated back to about 6 years ago and since then, it has been proven to be a time-efficient way of losing weight. A fat-burning HIIT can be done for anywhere between 15 min to 45 min.

High Intensity Interval Training
Freepik

➣ Who Should Do HIIT and How?

Even though it seems to adopt a HIIT style for fat loss or weight reduction, it isn’t for everyone. Let’s find out who should go for this type of regime.

▸ People of all ages who do not suffer from any kind of injury or any other medical condition are fit to adopt a HIIT for fat loss or to stay in shape or maintain the current lifestyle and weight. In other words, all those who are in good physical health can go for a HIIT.

▸ The difference lies in the age group and the exact physical condition of a person, thus making a high-intensity cardio a customized type workout.

▸ A lady aged in the 50s whose objective is to get her heart rate up & down may opt for a HIIT walking on a treadmill and then go for slow hip bridges while lying on a mat for recovery. On the other hand, a young heart in the age of 20s can comfortably opt for lunge jumps with dumbbells according to their weight for the high-intensity cardio part followed by sit-ups for the recovery period.

▸ If you’ve been thinking to begin your fitness journey, then HIIT is not for you. You can start your routine with some light exercises and then when you’ve been accustomed and habitual of the burnout, then maybe you can adopt the high-intensity training. Get your foundation set and move on to HIIT.

➣ Benefits of HIIT

If you’ve read up till now, then we are sure you would have already made up your mind to go for high-intensity training. Yes, there are many benefits. Check them out below:

▸ Who wouldn’t love to work out for only 20 minutes and still be fit? Yes, in comparison to an hour-long regular cardio workout, a short 20 minute HIIT regime can be more beneficial.

▸ You can easily fit a 20 min or a short duration fitness regime in your routine. A lot of us usually ignore hitting up the gyms because the session lasts up to an hour, which is most difficult to dedicate in today’s time. We generally are in no condition to get up and go to the gym after coming home from a 12-hour work shift (including traveling).

▸ If you’ve been wondering ― Does HIIT burn muscle or not? then the answer is, YES it does, as it targets a lot of muscles and burns calories during the exercise as well as long after the actual exercise bout. It has the after-burn effect.

▸ The only way of improving your anaerobic endurance is through anaerobic physical activity, like High-intensity interval training. It can also be improved by other activities like sprinting, skipping rope and biking. 

▸ A HIIT cardio for fat loss, along with weight loss will help in improving blood pressure, insulin sensitivity for energy’s better to use, cholesterol profiles and maintains the muscle mass.

➣ Drawbacks of HIIT

▸ Due to high-intensity training, the recovery is slow for the body. If the body hasn’t recovered, one should avoid training for the next day or for a while until it is recovered properly.

▸ Thus a person with injuries and other medical problems cannot go for a fat-burning HIIT.

▸ HIIT puts a lot of pressure on the body and is probably hard to finish. So if you cannot afford the strain and can’t take the pain, then you don’t get the gain. HIIT is not for you in that case. It is more suitable for an athlete who wants to improve on the agility and stamina, but not for you if you want to lose just a few kilos.

▸ With HIIT, an exerciser tends to overdo the exercise till the time he/she doesn’t feel the burn and sweating due to the “work till you drop” thinking. They continue until the body feels the exhaustion. And as a result, this can lead to injury and nausea.

▸ If you’ve been wondering does HIIT burn fat, then yes, it does but requires a lot of personal attention. If you’re practicing the sessions in a group, the instructor might not be able to give you proper attention that you need. If you’re working alone at home, you’re again without a coach to help personally according to your vitals.

▸ We live in a world of competition and thus comparing the lifestyle is the first thing that we do. When you try to keep up with others during a fat-burning HIIT, there are probabilities that you may injure yourself.

▸ HIIT cardio for fat loss, when done at maximum capacity, produces several hormones like growth hormone, endorphins, adrenaline, testosterone, and cortisol to name a few.

2) LISS

LISS, stands for Low-Intensity Steady State or it can also be called as Low-Intensity Sustained State.

But what is a LISS work out exactly?

Steady State Cardio
Freepik

By LISS training, we mean, it could be low-intensity cardio by walking on a treadmill or even outside in parks or walking tracks at a slower pace where there are no high-intensity bursts.

LISS training is by far considered to be the most common form of cardiovascular fitness regime. It includes repeating the same kind of movements and exercises for a longer duration while maintaining a moderate heart rate, which should be about 50-60% of one’s maximum heart rate.

To calculate your maximum heart rate, one should subtract the age from 220. For example, if you’re 26 years old, then your maximum heart rate is 220-26 = 194. So here, your ideal heart rate while exercising is 97 to 116 beats a minute.

Unlike HIIT, a LISS workout includes few to zero rest periods. A few examples of LISS cardio for fat loss are swimming, jogging, brisk walking, and rowing which should be at least 30 minutes long. On average, a 60-minute workout is considered enough.

LISS cardio for fat loss
Pexels

➣ Who should do LISS? And How?

▸ If you do not have the headspace or enough energy to count every interval, then LISS exercise is for you.

▸ Low-intensity workout regimes are for people who want to adopt a slower pace and can dedicate more time to their fitness.

▸ If you’re a fan of consistency, then you should opt for a LISS.

➣ Benefits of LISS

LISS exercise may not sound interesting if by now (after reading till here) you’ve been in favor of HIIT. But, let us tell you the pros of LISS.

▸ Training will get you results because to get it, you don’t have to move quickly. It’s about the distance that you cover. This is because covering more distance will burn more calories.

▸ LISS treadmill workout will make your stay in a heart range, that burns a greater percentage of calories from your existing fat as you exercise.

▸ If we compare high-intensity interval training vs low-intensity cardio, we find that the LISS regimes are slow and under control as compared to fast movements from HIIT. Thus, gives the body enough time to recover and adjust according to the needs and thus is the safest way of losing weight and fat.

▸ LISS is gentle to your body and you can continue with it every day without any risk of a physical injury. Your muscles and joints do not feel that over stress and stay in a healthy mode.

▸ No stress hormones like testosterone or growth hormone are released and do not affect your body negatively.

▸ Continuing with LISS regimes helps you maintain your routine and stay in the discipline.

▸ You can put up your shoes, tighten the laces and go for a walk anytime – be it between your lunch breaks at the office or an after-dinner night walk. There is no time barrier. You can do it anytime. A 30-minute window is enough for a LISS cardio.

▸ If you enjoy LISS, you’re most likely to love it and continue with it for your life.

▸ Our muscles require oxygen consistently and to provide it, aerobic exercise performed at low intensity is perfect. The duration for the supply of oxygen from lungs to muscles is long and thus LISS is designed to accommodate this.

➣ Drawbacks of LISS

By now, you would have started to incline towards LISS format too, but let’s get clear on its disadvantages too.

▸ For fat loss, one needs to experiment and challenge the self every now and then. With a LISS cardio for fat loss regime, one can’t move from one form of cardio to other – no mixing of exercises.

▸ LISS workouts are limited in its nature and variety and hence as a result, the body becomes accustomed to your exercising routine and thus eventually stops affecting you anymore.

▸ In the benefits section, we said that LISS is good for pumping regular oxygen to your muscles. Well, there’s a drawback too. Since the intensity is pretty low, the body is able to keep up with the exhaustion. The energy level doesn’t feel deficit and thus the metabolism rate remains relatively the same.

▸ LISS is considered good for cardio conditioning, but when it comes to muscle building, we’re sorry to inform you, that doesn’t happen. In fact, too much of low-intensity cardio may deteriorate your muscle.

▸ Researchers have found out that it takes around 6-8 weeks on an average of a low-intensity workout to achieve the same amount of aerobic endurance.

▸ Yes, a LISS exercise does help you to lose weight, but that’s only during the initial phases of your regime. Slowly, due to the slowdown in metabolism, it becomes harder to lose more weight and going for excess LISS may slow down the metabolism further.

3) HIIT vs LISS

Now if we compare a HIIT cardio vs Regular cardio or HIIT vs LISS, then we can say that both of them are complete opposites. What seems to be a drawback or limitation of a fat-burning HIIT may be the benefit of a LISS exercise.

Let’s go over both of them and find out which, if there is one, is superior in terms of fat loss or weight loss and which one should one be doing – HIIT or LISS. 

If you’ve been confused between HIIT and LISS – which one can you do every day, then you can do both. 

MetricHigh-Intensity Interval TrainingLow-Intensity Steady State
IntensityHighLow
Time DurationShortLong
Maximum Time Required20 minutes60 minutes
Recovery timeLongShort to Negligible
Results in Fat Loss
Yes Yes
Weight Loss Yes Yes
Athletic Performance/AgilityYes No
Stamina YesKeeps It Steady
Muscle burn YesYes
Injury MaybeNo
Requires Equipment MaybeYes
Requires to Go to Gym
NoMaybe
Afterburn Effect YesNo
Suitable forPeople with their foundation set and athletes Most people who want to stay fit

We hope we’ve given you enough comparison points between HIIT and LISS to help decide which one do you want to go for – HIIT cardio vs Regular cardio.

FAQs Related to HIIT vs LISS Cardio for Fat Loss

Q. How many calories does a HIIT workout burn in 30 minutes?

We understand that while doing any exercise one wants to know the results. You wonder how many calories does a HIIT workout burns in 30 minutes and whether or not does HIIT burn fat. 

On average, depending on your exercise plan out and structure, you can expect about 8-12 calories per minute to burn. Thus, if you opt for a HIIT cardio for fat loss, then you burn about 261-374 calories.

Q. Is it good to do HIIT cardio every day?

  • The focus of a HIIT walking or high-intensity cardio remains on the core of your body and the lower body.
  •  If your foundation is strong and you’re strong on your stamina, then you can definitely do a HIIT for weight loss.
  •  If you can recover quickly and do not feel any injury, then yes HIIT cardio is good for everyday routine.

Q. What should I eat while doing HIIT?

To support your exercise routine leading to weight loss and fat loss, a proper diet is required. You should plan a pre-workout diet and a post-workout diet

Pre Workout Diet can include:

  • Whole wheat toast with peanut butter along with a banana.
  • Cottage cheese with fruit.
  • Dried fruits and almonds.

Post Workout Diet can include:

  • Whole-grain cereal with fruit and soy milk.
  • Whole wheat crackers with fruits and cheese.
  • Hummus and pita bread.

Q. How many times a week should I do LISS?

To get results from a LISS cardio, one should aim for about 3-4 sessions of LISS treadmill workout in a week. 

A LISS exercise can also be chosen as an alternative to a HIIT for fat loss. When we compare high-intensity interval training vs low-intensity cardio, high-intensity cardio will give you more burn and less time to recover. Thus, to include recovery period and not leaving a day without exercising simultaneously, LISS training can be the alternative.

Thus, taking up low-intensity cardio or a LISS treadmill workout on alternate days can also work for you.

Q. What should the heart rate be during LISS?

By now, we’ve understood what is a LISS workout. But what we don’t know is what should be the heart rate.

It does include elevating or hyping up the heart rate, but we cannot let it go beyond 50% of our maximum heart rate. The next step is to keep it in the range for the whole duration.

Sports coaches recommend to let the heart rate be between 120-150 beats per minute for a low-intensity regime.

So by now, we are sure you would have made up your mind and chosen your type of cardiovascular exercise – HIIT cardio vs regular cardio. 

Author

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