HIIT or LISS?
Updated: Apr 30, 2019
With summer on the horizon (hopefully), cardio is calling for those of you looking to get in shape for the holiday season. The question is though - HIIT or LISS? HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) are both useful fat burning tools for your arsenal, but is there one outstanding candidate? Here's what you need to know...
HIIT - is a method which incorporates short and frequent bursts of max effort intensity followed by a longer (but still relatively short) rest period. An example would be a 20 second max effort sprint followed by a 40 second recovery period, performed consistently for 12 rounds on a spin bike.
LISS - is a method which involves using a single steady pace for a longer time duration. An example would be an incline treadmill walk, performed for 45 minutes at a brisk walking pace.
Both methods have been proven to enhance your rate of fat loss, providing of course that you are in an energy deficit (energy out is exceeding energy in). Many people will be very 'pro' either HIIT or LISS, however I hold a relatively neutral standpoint. As always, numerous factors dictate that my answer would be that it depends on the individual and can also be circumstantial.
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Below are some of the PROs, CONs and main considerations for both methods.
HIIT - PROs
- Less time consuming, more bang for your buck
- Greater cardiovascular benefits due to increased demands on the heart
- You can be more creative by incorporating HIIT circuits with battle ropes, kettlebells etc.
- Lots of studies have shown it to promote EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) whereby your body continues to burn calories even hours post workout
HIIT - CONs
- Not as effective for those with poor fitness levels as max effort output will be lower
- More taxing physically and for your CNS which could take away from weights sessions
- Higher risk of injury or for those with existing heart conditions due to its explosive nature
- Less measurable making it harder to track and progress calorie expenditure over time
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LISS - PROs
- Less taxing physically and for your CNS making it easier to recover for weights sessions
- More measurable making it easier to track and progress calorie expenditure over time
- Can be easily applied and progressed even for those with poor cardiovascular endurance
- Low risk of injury or for those with existing heart conditions due to its steady paced nature
LISS - CONs
- You'll have to perform it for much longer in order to achieve the same calorie expenditure
- It's more time consuming making it difficult to fit into a busy schedule
- Can become very tedious when implemented regularly
- It will not provide the same challenge for the cardiovascular system, especially for fitter individuals
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I'm sticking to my guns and reaffirming my opinion that the most optimal method for fat loss will be person dependant, and even then it could be situation dependant.
While I think that HIIT is awesome for so many reasons, on a personal level I've found it to becoming overly demanding on my energy levels when on low calories in the later stages of a cutting phase. At this point, LISS is going to be a more beneficial calorie burning tool.
At the other end of the spectrum I've had days where I couldn't think of anything worse than spending 60 minutes performing LISS on the treadmill (or I simply haven't had the time!). When this is the case, I'd opt for some HIIT and either head for the spin bike or set up a circuit rotating between the battle ropes, the rowing machine and kettlebell swings.
Choose the option that's the best fit for you as an individual, based around you schedule, fitness levels and what you enjoy. Whatever you choose to do, however, keep consistent and make sure you get a sweat on!