You’ve probably heard of HIIT — high-intensity interval training — but you may not be as familiar with its counterpart — LISS. Here’s the deal on the workout gaining in popularity and whether or not you should do it.
What is LISS?
LISS stands for low-impact steady (or sustained) state — a type of cardio or aerobic activity where your exertion level remains constant, at a low intensity, and is generally done for a more prolonged period of time (anywhere from 45-60 min).
Examples of LISS
- Riding a bike to work
- Taking a long walk at a moderate pace
- Swimming laps at a set pace
- Walking at a slight incline on the treadmill
- Rowing at a consistent pace
Pros vs cons
- Easy to start. Because LISS is low-intensity and also involves keeping your heart rate lower than other types of exercise, it’s a great option for those people starting or getting back into a fitness routine. It’s less intimidating, which means more people are likely to start here.
- Low-impact. Taking this right from its name, LISS is designed to be low-impact and therefore easier on your bones and joints than other fitness options.
- Helps round out a fitness routine. LISS is a great addition to your fitness routine, especially if you are doing consistent, high energy workouts. Think of LISS as an active recovery day which not only will keep you moving but can also increase the benefits of those harder workouts. The low impact won’t antagonize sore muscles and movement will help get blood to those areas to help with overall recovery.
- No effect on strength or muscles. Only doing LISS workouts will not improve strength or muscle condition; in fact, it may have the opposite effect. Continued steady state cardio may actually result in the body breaking down muscle for fuel if you aren’t careful about how you fuel before and after a workout, so it’s important to mix up your routine and incorporate some strength training as well.
- Takes longer. While HIIT workouts can leave you exhausted in as little as 20 minutes and also provide you with hours of post-workout calorie burn, the benefits of LISS are mainly confined to the time in which you do it, which can be anywhere from 45 -60 min (or longer). For those people who may be crunched for time, this can be a major con.
- Have to increase over time. Really as with any type of exercise, your body becomes accustomed to doing the same things over and over again, which is why you need to vary weights, reps, and intensity to have a more effective workout. Walking the same mile loop week after week will lead to diminishing returns, so you will have toeither change your type of activity (e.g., bike instead of walk) or lengthen the amount of time.
LISS is a wise choice for those people who are just starting or getting back into a fitness routine or as a recovery option for those who frequently push themselves in high-intensity workouts. Ideally, for maximum results, an exercise routine of HIIT and LISS workouts is your best choice as each targets fat loss in a different way. LISS certainly has its place in any exercise routine, but think about what your goals are and how it fits into yours.
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Erin is a NASM-certified personal trainer, and a writer dedicated to focusing on physical, emotional, and mental health. When she’s not writing, she’s trying out new desserts in Chicago and relaxing with her husband Neil and her dog Donut.