LISS is the new HIIT!
Finally, the tides have turned and the long reign of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has been ousted by LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) training.
What are HIIT and LISS anyway?
HIIT involves short intense training sessions lasting anything from 4-30 minutes. Think Joe Wicks, Insanity, Metafit, Fatburn Extreme. Think sprinting, burpees, push ups, squat jumps. The idea is to go all out 80-95 percent effort, interspersed with short recovery periods. We have been flooded with articles on how HIIT is better for burning more fat in less time. One favourite benefit to be paraded is the post-workout calorie burn. Apparently, with HIIT, your body continues to burn calories for several hours after your workout is finished. So, in theory, you can be sitting on the couch, stuffing your face, watching TV and still burning calories! A recent study however has shown that this benefit has been grossly exaggerated. Also, there is no great difference between the 2 with fat burn results either.
LISS is basically old school Steady State Cardio given a new funky name by Toby Pearce, the manager and boyfriend of Bikini Body Guides creator – Kayla Itsines. Think Zumba, Les Mills Body Attack or Body Combat, Clubbercise, Pound or Fuse-Fit. Think jogging, dancing, netball, badminton. You work at around 65-70 percent capacity and can continue for an hour or more and can still talk (this last part is questionable – I never mix cardio and chat, even steady state cardio!). With the steady rise in popularity of HIIT over recent years, LISS has taken a bit of a back seat and it’s not uncommon to witness some prejudice against LISS regulars in the gyms. It is often viewed as the easy option, not “real” fitness, just a bit of fun.
Advantages of HIIT
- Time – it can be as little as 20 minutes
- Convenience – it can be done at home and you don’t need a lot of space
- Calorie burn – it burns the same or more calories than LISS in a shorter period of time
- Challenge – it’s seriously hard and therefore very rewarding when you succeed
Disadvantages of HIIT
- Safety – HIIT is not safe for people with illness or injury. The ideal market is 18-40 year olds
- Injury – With the complexity, difficulty and pace of the moves, there is a high injury risk
- Extremity – Not everyone is capable of going all out 100% effort with exercise
- Burn out – The severity of a HIIT session can leave many feeling drained, exhausted, bad tempered and sometimes even ill.
Advantages of LISS
- Adaptability – LISS is suitable for almost everyone. Even walking is LISS if it means getting your effort and heart rate up to 65-70%
- Enjoyability – It’s easier to find an enjoyable form of LISS than HIIT, e.g. dancing or hiking
- Sociability – as you can still chat during LISS, it’s easier to do with a friend or a group
- Fast recovery – As it puts less stress on the body, we recovery fairly quickly and that means we continue moving and doing more low level activity rather than collapsing in a heap.
Disadvantages of LISS
- Time– Many people simply don’t have the time to do an hour of exercise
- Convenience- It usually involves leaving the house and so more planning is involved
- Boredom – Some people are not cut out for an hour of exercise, they just want to get the job done in the shortest possible time
- Repetitiveness – You can get stuck in a rut doing the same thing week in, week out e.g. running or swimming and this can cause your body to plateau
Which exercise is best for me? HIIT or LISS?
Ask yourself the following questions:-
- Am I a beginner? (E.g. starting out in fitness or coming back after a long time out)
- Do I have a serious illness or injury to factor in?
- Am I seriously overweight?
- Do I suffer from regular joint pain?
- Do I struggle to get up and down from the floor?
- Do I struggle to follow a fast paced, high energy class?
If the answer to ANY of these questions is YES, then HIIT is not appropriate for you at this point in time.
If the answer is NO to ALL of these questions, then it comes down to simply a matter of preference. Think back to the start of this article when I listed the different types of HIIT – sprinting, burpees, press ups and pushing yourself to the max. And now think of the different types of LISS – jogging, netball, a dance fitness class and pacing yourself for 45-60 minutes. Which excites you more? Or to put it another way, which fills you with less fear and dread?
I am a LISS girl first and foremost as my first love is dance fitness. My Fuse-Fit classes are all about taking the fear out of fitness, having fun and making it as much about connecting and letting go, as it is about getting fit. But I am also partial to a bit of HIIT on occasion too as I often don’t get a workout when teaching. As I have become a more seasoned and experienced instructor, I stand back and coach more and more in my classes and therefore participate less. My HIIT of choice? Boxing fitness with circuits.