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Be More, Do More: How to Choose Between HIIT and LISS

Every year, you can expect yet another fitness fad or buzzword to come out of the shadows. It’s true that exercise or diet trends come and go, but the importance of cardio remains. It’s safe to say that both professionals and newbies on the search for gym equipment for hire understand that their workouts are only effective when they do cardio training right.

There are two types of cardio or workout that fitness enthusiasts can go for: HIIT or LISS. 

Take Your Pick

HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training is a tough fitness routine that can be done in a short amount of time. It’s a quick way to get your heart and metabolism pumping. To do this, you alternate between intense bursts of activity and rest or low-intensity movement. High intensity means reaching 80–95% of your maximum heart rate, then dropping it down to 40–50% in the recovery phase. 

HIIT is a kind of anaerobic exercise that uses more oxygen than your body can supply. When you do this, you would noticeably run out of breath quickly, and your muscles would burn, which is an effect of lactic acid buildup. The rest is necessary because it clears the lactic acid and brings back your oxygen levels.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is LISS or Low-Intensity Steady State. Beyond the warm-up and cool down, there should be little to no speed or intensity throughout this kind of workout. LISS has a target heart rate of 45–60% of your acceptable maximum heart rate. As it is contrary to HIIT, LISS is an aerobic exercise that improves oxygen intake. 

LISS is recommended to those who are just getting into exercise and familiarising themselves with the changes in breathing patterns. Those who have been injured or on their way back to working out can also benefit from this.

The HIIT-LISS debate peaked when multiple studies tried to prove that HIIT is a better choice than LISS because it is better for burning calories, losing weight, and improving your cardiovascular health. Also, this workout only takes a small amount of your time which is why it’s perfect for professionals with busy schedules.

But, is it really better to switch or opt for HIIT as opposed to LISS? It’s essential to look at the differences between the two and weigh the pros and cons that will dictate your workout’s results. 



  • Quick and effective
  • Sessions are shorter because of the high intensity
  • Can be done anywhere and doesn’t need so many equipment or tools 
  • Continues to burn calories even after the workout thanks to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)
  • Effectively loses fat in the long run
  • Weight training and movements that activate muscles help with retention 


  • Needs a solid aerobic foundation
  • Places more stress on the body because of the intensity
  • Higher risk of injury
  • Longer recovery time especially when the adequate time of rests in between are not met 
  • Initially intimidating for beginners
  • Likely to end up consuming more calories because of  the intense hunger workout results to.



  • Easier on the joints and muscles
  • Lower risk of injury because the pace is steady
  • Requires less recovery time
  • Can aid in recovery thanks to increased blood flow to muscles 
  • Decreases muscle soreness
  • Helps reduce muscle mass


  • Longer sessions because you are not using energy quickly
  • Long sessions may demotivate users
  • Only burns calories during the workout
  • The body tends to adapt to it quickly, so initial results may not last long

Examples of HIIT Exercises

HIIT uses your carbohydrates as an energy source. According to studies, 27 minutes of HIIT three times a week has the same anaerobic and aerobic effects as that of 60 minutes of moderate cardio done five times a week. Fat loss begins, and toned muscles reveal itself, changing the body composition drastically. 

You know you're doing HIIT right when you're catching your breath and can barely keep up with it. Not that it's a bad thing—real HIIT workouts are tough, so when you're having an easy time with it, it only means you need to up the ante.

Biking or indoor cycling, rowing, sprinting, boxing, and Tabata are some of the activities you can consider for your HIIT training. You can also look into the Insanity workout that includes Circuit Training if you think you’re up to it.

Examples of LISS Exercises

On the other side of the coin, LISS utilises fat for energy, which is obviously advantageous for those looking to cut their body fat. However, LISS workouts are also useful in aiding recovery, as studies suggest that increasing blood flow to muscles without overexertion can help decrease soreness. Bodybuilders also like LISS as it burns fat and prevents muscle catabolism or the loss of overall muscle mass.

The best LISS exercises are those that keep your heart rate stable with not much resistance. Something simple like walking, jogging, running on a treadmill, or biking is already enough. However, you can also take classes such as Barre or Vinyasa Yoga if you prefer.

Which is More Effective for You?

You may have already determined which type of training to take based on HIIT and LISS’s advantages and disadvantages, but if you’re still undecided, here are a few considerations you could look at.

  • Time

Time is a huge factor, especially for professionals who are struggling to find time to work out. If you want an exercise that you can squeeze in your busy schedule, HIIT is preferred as you can do it in as little as 10 minutes. Its intensity levels are so high you’d get fatigued more quickly.

  • Accessibility/Intensity

Along with time, another logistical issue that you may have is accessibility. LISS has the upper hand in this aspect because of the simplicity of the activities. The low and steady intensity is excellent for a myriad of people, such as beginners, those who want to lose weight, have been injured, or those that are just starting to get back to exercising. You can advance to HIIT when you feel more comfortable and ready for intense exercise. 

  • Muscle Gain and Retention

If you're looking to bulk up (which one of the common reasons why people go to the gym), HIIT would be more useful for you as it places great stress on the skeletal muscle, especially alongside resistance training. It would additionally help in building endurance. Still, some mix LISS and HIIT throughout the week for a more balanced look. 

  • Strength Improvement

Some people equate bulk with strength. In line with that, you may think that HIIT will be the choice for people who want to improve their strength. However, LISS is the better choice in this case, because HIIT uses carbohydrates as a source of energy, which will, in turn, consume your muscles and stamina and compromise your strength.

  • Cardiovascular Health

In terms of improving cardiovascular fitness, HIIT can be the better choice based on research because it increases your heart rate, and has been shown to raise general fitness level in a short span of time. 

In another 2014 study, HIIT has been found to improve the participants’ cardiovascular health by a factor of more than two, as it enhanced their maximal oxygen uptake (VO2) or a measurement of fitness that represents the cardiorespiratory system’s ability to take in oxygen and deliver it to the muscles. 

  • Weight Loss

If you want to shed some weight off, both HIIT and LISS have been found to be effective. In a 2006 study that compared average-weight females who have been doing either HIIT or LISS for 12 weeks, it was found that those who did HIIT decreased their body fat percentage and those doing LISS had no such changes. 

It also helps that HIIT continues to stimulate metabolism and burn calories even after the workout, thanks to EPOC. In addition, a study in 1992 found a direct link between exercise intensity and EPOC duration, meaning the higher workout intensity, the longer the EPOC effect. 

However, LISS is obviously more appropriate for overweight individuals who suffer from health conditions like hypertension or thyroid dysfunction. For people with a normal weight who are relatively healthy, the fat burning effect of LISS is only temporary because the body can adjust to the workout quite quickly—that’s why they need to switch it up if they believe that the effects are starting to wear off.

Both Options are the Right Choice

Depending on your body type, lifestyle, and fitness goals, both HIIT and LISS can be beneficial to you one way or another. You don’t have to choose one because everyone is doing it or it’s the “in” thing right now. It’s best to consult with your general practitioner to determine which one best fits your needs. 

Whether you choose to go hard and fast with HIIT or stay slow and steady with LISS, you can find the right tools and equipment you need for your workout here at Indoor Sport Services.

Published at: 10-10-2019
Tags: HIIT LISS types of workout

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