Fitness Tips

Achieve More With LISS!

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Fitness has its trends, too, and it can even come full circle! Nowadays, low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio training is generating more buzz in the fitness industry although high-intensity interval training (HIIT) still has its secure place. The resurgence of LISS can partly be attributed to the fact that HIIT isn’t for everybody because of the more intense demands placed upon the heart and lungs.

The Differences Matter

By the way, HIIT refers to the cardio training where short bursts of intense activity alternate with long periods of recovery. The typical HIIT workout involves 1-3 minutes of intense activity followed by 2-4 minutes of recovery period with the intervals repeated several times.  The idea here is that the intervals will keep the body guessing so higher number of calories can be burned within a shorter period.

In contrast, LISS involves longer durations of endurance-based exercises with the heart rate kept at a slower pace than in HIIT.  The heart rate is, in fact, kept in its aerobic range, usually within 60-80 percent of the heart’s maximum capacity.

For this reason, it’s a more suitable activity for beginners in fitness, as well as for those who want to return into the fitness habit without increasing their risk for muscle and joint injuries. It’s also an excellent workout for people who may have an underlying medical condition that precludes HIIT, and for people participating in cardiovascular rehabilitation plans.

This isn’t the case for HIIT because of the greater physical stress to which the body is subjected to during the workout.  Even personal trainers at Gold’s Gym will recommend HIIT to fit individuals only because of it.  Think of HIIT, if you will, as the less intense cousin of the Insanity workout but it’s still so intense that beginners and the like are well-advised to avoid it.

Fortunately, LISS can deliver similar results as HIIT with reduced risk of injury!

The Benefits Are Varied

But it isn’t just the reduced risk of injury that attracts people to LISS. There are several other benefits that come with its proper and regular adoption.

  • LISS workouts can burn more calories and fat because of the extended exercise period with a lower heart rate. With HIIT, the body largely burns glucose (i.e., sugar).
  • LISS workouts focus more on aerobic training so the body enjoys faster and better recovery, both from cardio and strength training.
  • LISS workouts decrease cortisol levels and, in turn, reduces the body’s tendency to retain fat in the belly (i.e., visceral fat); cortisol, a stress-triggered hormone, can trigger the fat retention.
  • LISS workouts reduce the level of stress experienced by the body thus forcing it to slow down for faster recovery.
  • LISS workouts may contribute to the reduction of risk against the common cold and flu mainly because the body isn’t subjected to too much stress.
  • LISS workouts may aid in the regulation of hormone production and in the improvement of mood.

Of course, many of these benefits can also be said for HIIT workouts. But if you want a safe yet still effective workout that your body can benefit from, you should discuss LISS with your personal trainer. You may even use LISS as your stepping stone toward building a stronger body in preparation for more intense workouts.

The Variety Is a Plus

LISS training also comes in many varieties so there’s an LISS workout for everybody, even for the couch potato who wants an easier transition from lying down to moving around, so to speak. Even brisk walking is an LISS workout in itself when it’s done for longer than 30 minutes continuously.

You can start with 30-60 minutes of light walking every day until you’re ready for a more intense LISS workout in the gym. You should also combine other forms of low-impact exercises, such as stretching, yoga, and deep breathing exercises, perhaps coupled with meditation. You may also choose swimming, hiking, or cycling depending on your preference, as well as to mix up your routine.

Just as with all types of workouts, routine is the enemy of LISS training. Your body will eventually recognize the stress, so to speak, you constantly subject it to until such time that there’s little to no progress being made – and that’s one way of entering a fitness plateau. You must constantly challenge your body, as well as keep it on its toes by adding variety to your LISS training.

The typical LISS workout consists of 30-45 minutes of light to moderate cardio with the heart rate and fat-burning zone being as close as possible.  If you’re unsure about it, just elevate your heart rate to 70% of its maximum heart rate (MHR) via a heart rate monitor strapped to your chest.

Ask your personal trainer about the right LISS training for your case. You may suggest the following intervals, too:

  • 10 minutes on a treadmill at 60-80% MHR
  • 10 minutes on a stationary bike at 60-80% MHR with a speed of 4 miles per hour
  • 10 minutes on a rower at 60-80% MHR

As you become stronger, you can add HIIT to your workout program. You can perform, for example, HIIT sessions for 3-5 times a week with the intervening days dedicated to LISS training for faster recovery.