High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) VS Low Intensity Training Steady State (LISS)

This is a contributed post about interval training by India Cash with Powerhouse Fitness

So which is better for you? When it comes to choosing between these types of training you must consider your goals. Are you training to lose fat, build muscle, improve fitness or simply improve your general lifestyle? How hard do you want to work and how long for? All these factors must be taken into account when choosing the best exercises to suit you. Let’s look at each one in more depth.

High Intensity Interval Training HIIT vs LISS

Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)

  • Training requires you to workout at 60-70% of your MHR (Maximum Heart Rate). An estimation of your MHR can be calculated at 220 – your current age.
  • Workouts usually last between 45 minutes – 1 hour and are usually a continuous steady pace.
  • Glucose and fat are the main sources of energy used for low intensity exercises as the muscles have time to break down fats for energy while you train.
  • Examples of this type of training are swimming, distance running/walking, elliptical training and cycling.
  • Low intensity is ideal for people who are unfit, overweight or those who are just starting out on their fitness journey.

Why choose LISS

Low intensity training is great for the untrained athlete. Benefits include; the disposal of unwanted fat, improvement of blood pressure and improvements on general health. The amount of stress placed on the body is minimal so you can gradually build your fitness level with a low risk of injury and strain. Training can be done at a comfortable easy pace which means you can work out for longer, giving your body time to adjust to the work out.

An important thing to remember with long intensity training is that it does take longer to see the results. You only burn calories while you train but during rest, your body and metabolism return to their neutral state. This type of aerobic activity does burn fat but in return, you don’t build any muscle. This means it is easier to put weight back on because there is no muscle to replace the fat that was lost. If you are looking towards building muscle, burning fat quicker and improving your fitness performance, you should focus on high intensity training.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the process of working out at an intense level and pushing your body to the limit. It features short bursts of energy followed by a short period of rest. This is then repeated a number of times.

  • Training requires you to workout at 75-85% of your MHR, 3-4 times a week.
  • Workouts take less time and can range from anything between 12-20 minutes.
  • Your energy is supplied by glucose as your energy systems do not have the time to break down the fat while you train.
  • Examples of HIT are hill sprints, spinning, Tabata and strength training.
  • HIIT is suitable for those who are athletic and looking to improve their performance and technique.

Why choose HIIT

In comparison to low intensity training, HIIT delivers quicker results. Lean muscle is developed, fat is removed and your VO2 max is increased. Calories are burned during and post workout and can continue to burn for up to 48 hours showing a much more effective way of boosting your metabolism. HIIT is time efficient and provides a quick intense workout suitable for those who struggle to fit exercise into their daily routine.

The difficulties that come with HIIT workouts is having the motivation and desire to push your body to exhaustion but as a bonus your body releases more endorphins due to the intensity making this type of training very rewarding! However, HIIT must be limited as it is very high impact and puts a lot of stress and strain on muscles and joints. Be sure to limber up before and stretch after exercise to prevent injury and promote recovery.

Overall the benefits of low and high intensity workouts are very similar. They both physically help improve your fitness level, improve the circulatory system, minimise the percentage of body fat and give you more energy when you are not training. Mentally, exercise can help reduce stress with the release of the endorphins and after results, can help you feel better about yourself. Consider your fitness/weight loss goals and the time available to you when choosing which to go with.


About the Author – India Cash is a fitness enthusiast writing on behalf of Powerhouse Fitness; suppliers of exercise bikes, treadmills and elliptical cross trainers.

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