LISS cardio or “Low-Intensity Steady State cardio,” is not a new concept. The term describes any exercise that is low-intensity and that is carried out for long periods of time. Some would describe it as the opposite of HIIT or “High-Intensity Interval Training,” a popular technique that has gained recent attention for its potential to rapidly increase performance and muscle mass. Examples of LISS may include long walks, hiking, swimming, and cycling.
Is LISS Better or Worse than HIIT?
Neither technique is better or worse, just different. LISS cardio is still exercise and yields training results such as increased muscle mass, but not as quickly as HIIT. The big attraction of HIIT is that it can be done in a short period of time, making it ideal for those with tight schedules.
LISS cardio, on the other hand, is done at a slower pace and therefore takes longer to yield visible results. However, before you throw LISS out the window, it’s important to note that sustained exercise reaps health benefits that aren’t necessarily visually obvious.
Are There Any Extra Benefits?
Looking to lose weight? LISS might be for you. Research suggests that doing low-intensity exercise for long periods trains the body to use fat as an energy source more efficiently than HIIT (1). This is because the body metabolizes fuel differently depending on the type of exercise taking place. Fat is the body’s preferred fuel source during low-intensity exercise, while and carbohydrates are metabolized during high-intensity workouts. Therefore, routine exercise at low-intensities can lead to training adaptations that improve fat metabolism.
Low-intensity exercise may also be a better option for burning belly fat. Studies on the effects of continuous exercise find that it is more effective than HIIT at reducing waist circumference (2). Depending on individual training goals, the effects of LISS may be more desirable.
Should I Try It?
Chances are you already have in one way or another, and that we are simply adding another label to it. A lot of recreational activities like surfing, skateboarding, and hiking can be considered LISS cardio workout if done long enough. If you go to the gym and use the elliptical at a steady pace for most of your workout routine, you are technically doing LISS cardio!
LISS cardio workouts are ideal for those who are not ready to jump right into vigorous exercise or who are physically limited. This type of workout has a lower injury risk and faster recovery than HIIT.
Considering LISS cardio?
When planning your LISS cardio workout, take into account the movements you’ll be performing. Remember to add a variety of movements to prevent overworking any particular joint. This is especially important for individuals with musculoskeletal pain from osteoarthritis or soft-tissue injuries. For anyone starting a new fitness routine or who is looking to expand their fitness goals, we highly recommend consulting a personal trainer. These experts will put you on the fast track to achieving your optimal fitness with one-on-one coaching and personalized workout routines tailored just for you!
- Horowitz, et al. “Lipid Metabolism during Endurance Exercise | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Oxford Academic.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Aug. 2000, academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/72/2/558S/4729603.
- Keating, et al. “Continuous Exercise but Not High Intensity Interval Training Improves Fat Distribution in Overweight Adults.” Journal of Obesity, Hindawi, 16 Jan. 2014, www.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2014/834865/.