The Difference Between HIIT & LISS Cardio

Ever wondered as you are stepping on to the treadmill, "is this even what I am supposed to be doing?" Trust me I have been there too, so that's why I thought it would be helpful if I broke down our typical cardio routines and gave you some insight as to what to do and when so that you can best reach your goals! 

Now, keep in mind, if you hatttteeeee sprints more than anything, or you hhaattteeee going on the elliptical, thats fine! There are SO MANY different HIIT and LISS options out there besides just a few simple machines so I challenge you to find what works for you. This is KEY because you won't stick with anything if you hate it. You shouldn't hate your workouts everyday, that's not why we workout. Workout because you have found something you love, for a body you love! 

Now on to the breakdown! 

HIIT- High Intensity Interval Training

Most of you are probably pretty familiar with HIIT as it has become a buzzword as of late in the health and wellness industry. But are you really familiar with WHY you are doing HIIT? 

Well, the simplest explanation of HIIT is going all-out with 100% effort for a period of time, followed by a short somewhat active recovery period. This allows you to quickly get your heart rate up and burn more fat in less time (can I get an amen!). How does it really do that though? Through EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), which is the after effect of an intense workout, meaning you continue burning more fat and calories even after you've finished your workout. 

Types of HIIT workouts include sprints, Tabata, indoor cycling as well as Kayla Itsines program and Insanity program. 

Benefits of HIIT: 

  • Increases your metabolism: Remember EPOC? This is where this comes in! It can boost your metabolism for up to 48 hours after even completing your workout, so even this type of exercise every couple of days is still super beneficial. 
  • Takes less time! We are all busy right? Don't have 1 hour to go to the gym? Thats fine! HIIT workouts allow you to get a lot done in a lot less time. This is so helpful for people who are just starting out and don't want to commit to as much but still want results. 
    • No equipment needed! Of course you can if you want, but some of the simplest moves; burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, step ups, sprints...all of this can be done at your house, in a hotel room or out at a park! Pretty much leaving no room for excuses here...haha
  • Burns fat while putting on lean muscle mass! Pretty much the best of both worlds! 

LISS- Low Intensity Steady State 

LISS workouts tend to last 30-60 minutes and maintain the same intensity throughout the entire exercise. Because of this lower intensity you could do this type of workout 5-6 days a week rather than HIIT 2-3 days a week. In LISS workouts, you primarily only burn calories during the exercise itself, rather than also post workouts like HIIT workouts will do. Because of the lack of change in heart rate and oxygen levels during a LISS workout it is easier for the body to adjust and therefore plateau faster. 

Types of LISS workouts include barre classes, pilates, vinyasa yoga and casual jogging. 

Benefits of LISS: 

  • If you are needing to reduce muscle mass then LISS is the ideal workout type for you. It will also reduce body fat but at a slower rate which can be frustrating for some people. However, LISS workouts are a great starting point for someone who is very new to fitness and physical activity. 
  • Less risk for injury. Because you are not rushing from move to move you have time to be more intentional and therefore mindful about the move itself. 
  • Can be a more calming option but still offers a good burn! Classes like barre and pilates are anything but easy! But you get the added benefit of not having to do sprints or burpess as much if that is something you strongly dislike. 


So is HIIT better than LISS? The truth is, no, it just depends on your goals and what you are willing to do at the time. My preference is a combination of both! This allows me to to not only achieve weight loss but also maintain it. Staying active is important and some days if all you can do is a 30 minute walk, I think thats better than nothing at all or forcing yourself to do a high intensity workout your body and mind aren't ready for. Hopefully, this helps you understand that just going to the gym and being a cardio bunny wont put on the muscle you probably desire or get the results as quickly. So push yourself out of your comfort zone, try a new class or shake up your cardio routine! 

So what is your preferred cardio of choice?