HIIT VS. LISS: FINDING THE BEST ROUTINE FOR YOU
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. It can improve your physical fitness, prevent chronic diseases, boost your mood, and enhance your quality of life. However, with so many exercise routines available, it can be hard to find the one that suits your needs and preferences. In this blog, we will focus on one type of exercise that is often overlooked but has many benefits: LISS cardio.
What is LISS Cardio?
LISS stands for Low-Intensity Steady State cardio. It is a form of aerobic exercise that involves maintaining a low to moderate intensity level for a prolonged period of time, usually 30 minutes or more. LISS builds one’s endurance and stamina for exercising as well as being good for sustained blood oxygenation. It is also known as moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT). Some examples of LISS cardio are walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, or rowing.
LISS cardio is different from HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), which involves alternating between short bursts of high-intensity exercise and recovery periods. HIIT is more intense and challenging but also more time-efficient and effective for improving anaerobic fitness.
LISS vs HIIT: Advantages and Disadvantages
LISS is considered more leisurely, adaptable and friendly for people of all ages and fitness levels. It may provide an edge over HIIT for improving one’s endurance. Most forms of LISS exercise can be social group activities as well. People may find it easier to adhere to LISS in the long run for these reasons. For LISS to be effective, it requires much more time than HIIT.
HIIT can save time, work a larger range of muscles, and may be better for bone strengthening, muscle building, and strength training. However, many people may be discouraged from HIIT due to its perceived difficulty. HIIT may not be as comfortable to perform as LISS and can be challenging for some older individuals or those with health conditions.
Physical Benefits of LISS Cardio Compared to HIIT
“Walking is man’s best medicine.” -Hippocrates
The benefits of both LISS and HIIT are similar from a health perspective in that both are helpful for getting fit, improving blood flow, burning excess fat, and regulating metabolism. Each has also proven equally beneficial for those with various health conditions when adapted to the person’s individual fitness level. What separates LISS from HIIT is how each achieves these benefits.
LISS for Endurance, Core Control and Cardiopulmonary Efficiency. The science behind LISS cardio is that it tends to work the slow-twitch muscle fibers more. Slow muscle fibers rely more on oxygen for their metabolism rather than stored glucose (glycogen) and are required for sustained exercise (endurance).
Working these muscles with LISS enhances cardiorespiratory fitness and overall metabolism better than HIIT in the long run. In one study, the longer the LISS cardio duration, the better exercise recovery was shown to be after several weeks. There is a higher concentration of slow muscle fibers in the postural and core muscles, which are required for overall control, balance, and physical coordination. LISS helps improve these parameters as well.
HIIT for Muscle, Power and Strength. HIIT tends to work the fast twitch muscle fibers through short bursts of intensive exercise. These fibers rely more on stored glucose, and their actions cannot be sustained for as long due to a more rapid depletion of energy stores (relative to slow twitch fibers). Most forms of HIIT improve muscle mass and strength, as well as pose cardiovascular benefits. HIIT proved superior to LISS in terms of quickly burning fat and getting into shape. Some people find HIIT more enjoyable than LISS due to its quicker results.
Which is Better: LISS or HIIT?
The answer is both.
HIIT Gives More For Less. Many studies over the last couple of years have advocated HIIT over LISS for achieving the same or better results within a shorter timeframe. It seems that the more intensive the exercise, the more potent it is and the quicker it provides the benefits. However, choosing this approach over a balanced routine may not be the best over long periods of time.
LISS Balances HIIT and Fitness. Too much HIIT can be damaging to the cardiovascular system over the lifespan, as shown in both child and adult athletes. In these cases, HIIT contributed to cardiomyopathies, such as heart enlargement. This suggests that excessive exercise and constantly trying to improve one’s strength and fitness can be counterintuitive. Thus, LISS is an important form of exercise for balance.
Experts support these observations by recommending a well-rounded weekly routine that includes both moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and resistance training for maintaining strong, healthy bones and muscles.
How to Incorporate LISS Into Your Routine for the Best Results
Some people may not be able to do LISS or HIIT for various reasons, including health, fitness, preference, or their schedule. Concerning your health status and fitness, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before starting any exercise regimen. If you are considering starting LISS cardio, here are some tips on how to fit it into your routine:
Choose The Right Activities for LISS
The key is to find something enjoyable and in sync with your lifestyle, especially because you need to dedicate significant time to it; each session needs to be at least 30 mins. This way, you are more likely to want to do it and remain consistent.
There are many activities that you can do for LISS cardio, such as:
You can also integrate LISS into your daily routine by finding opportunities to do it throughout the day and by making it a habit, such as going for a walk or cycling instead of using public transport.
Duration and Frequency of LISS Workouts
The duration and frequency of your LISS workouts depend on your fitness level, goals, schedule, etc. It should be understood that either LISS or HIIT can be performed by most people at any age or fitness level and can be adjusted accordingly. Provided you are not an athlete, it is not necessarily important to push beyond a certain level of fitness for optimal well-being.
A general recommendation is to do between 150-300 minutes (2.5-5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week OR 75-150 mins (1.25-2.5 hrs) of high-intensity exercise per week.
People often stick to 150 mins of exercise per week at varied intensities. Many attempt to do 30 minutes of LISS cardio five times a week or 50 minutes of LISS cardio three times a week.
It may be easier to fit both LISS and HIIT into a busy schedule if one alternates each type on different days. However, LISS usually requires a minimum of 30 minutes per session to benefit. If you have more time on some days than others, you may prefer to do 50 mins of LISS 2-3 times a week and opt for 15 mins of HIIT every other day.
Setting a target heart rate zone for LISS
To get the most out of your LISS cardio, you need to exercise at the right intensity level. This can be measured by your heart rate, which is the number of times your heart beats per minute.
Your heart rate depends on many factors, such as your age, fitness level, health condition, etc. A general formula to estimate your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. For example, if you are 30 years old, your maximum heart rate is 220 - 30 = 190 beats per minute.
For LISS cardio, you need to exercise at 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.
For example, if you are 30 years old and your maximum heart rate is 190 beats per minute, your target heart rate zone for LISS cardio is 95 to 133 beats per minute.
You can use a heart rate monitor, a smartwatch, or a fitness app to track your heart rate during exercise. You can also use the talk test, which means that you should be able to talk comfortably but not sing while exercising.
To see the results of your LISS cardio workout, you can track your progress and adjust your routine accordingly. This can be both rewarding and motivating. Fitness trackers, apps, and smart devices can all help, as can weighing yourself or using a system such as setting SMART goals.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This means you set fitness goals that you can keep a record of and assess over time, such as performing your routine in a shorter space of time after so many weeks or losing a certain amount of weight after a couple of months.
Adjust Your Routine
To adjust your routine, you need to listen to your body and monitor how you feel during and after exercise. You should also consider other factors such as your goals, motivation, boredom, plateaus, etc. You can adjust your routine by changing the intensity, duration, frequency, type, or order of your LISS activities. You can also try new activities or challenge yourself with different goals or events. The key is to keep it fun and varied.
Alternating LISS with Strength Training or HIIT
You can alternate LISS with strength training or HIIT to get the best of both worlds. Try a combination of LISS and HIIT in the same session, such as doing a 10-minute warm-up of LISS followed by 20 minutes of HIIT and then a 10-minute cool-down of LISS. This can help you improve your overall fitness, prevent boredom, and avoid plateaus.
Addressing Common Misconceptions About LISS
There are some common misconceptions about LISS that may prevent you from doing it or getting the most out of it. Here are some of them and the truth behind them:
LISS is boring: If LISS is boring, you are probably doing it wrong. Make sure to choose activities that you enjoy, want to participate in, or that develop skills you want to learn and that fit your lifestyle. You can also make LISS more interesting by:
- Varying your speed, distance, terrain, or incline to make it more challenging or interesting.
- Listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks to keep you entertained.
- Exercising with friends or family to make it more social and fun.
LISS is not effective: As explained above, HIIT is often touted as being superior to LISS in terms of improving health and fitness. While LISS may be less effective in some ways, it is required to make the most of HIIT. LISS is effective if you do it at the right intensity level, duration, frequency, and type for your goals and fitness level.
LISS is easy: LISS is simple to do but not necessarily easy to persist with. It still requires effort, discipline, and consistency to do it regularly and effectively. It also requires patience and perseverance to see the results over time. You should also challenge yourself by increasing the intensity, duration, frequency, type, or order of your LISS activities as you progress and adapt to your routine.
LISS cardio is a simple but powerful form of exercise that can help you improve your health and enhance overall fitness. It has many benefits, such as improving your cardiovascular health and endurance, burning fat and calories, reducing stress, and improving mental well-being. It is also easy to do and requires minimal equipment and skills. You can personalize your LISS routine by choosing activities that you enjoy, and that fit your lifestyle. By combining LISS with HIIT, you can achieve a well-rounded fitness routine for improved well-being and longevity.
-  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657417/
-  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8619923/
-  https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/high-intensity-interval-training/
-  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14964437/
-  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999698/
-  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36981649/
-  https://core.ac.uk/reader/43364325?utm_source=linkout
-  https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/heartrate.htm
Disclaimer: Please note that Mya Care does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided is not intended to replace the care or advice of a qualified health care professional. The views expressed are personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Mya Care. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen. Do not reproduce, copy, reformat, publish, distribute, upload, post, transmit, transfer in any manner or sell any of the materials in this blog without prior written permission from myacare.com.
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