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HIIT Cardio versus Steady State LISS Cardio - Which is better for fat loss?

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

Should You HIIT It & Quit It Or Stay A Little Longer: Cardio: Often called Car-dee-no for a few folks (lol) is essentially defined as aerobic exercise. To sum it up in simple terms, it is any exercise that raises your heart-rate. Whether walking, running, biking, etc. your body is made to move, and this movement makes your heart stronger and burns calories.



With cardio there are two common forms that most tend to talk about in regards to their fitness regimen. Before you can even determine which is more suitable for you, it is best to first understand what each one is / the differences between them. What is LISS: LISS: Low intensity steady state. This form of cardio is most common for people, and generally lasts 30-60 minutes with a heart rate around 40%. It is composed of very few rest periods as the goal is just to maintain a moderate heart rate. (Nothing too exhausting). The heart rate should stay below 140 bpm and you should be able to hold a conversation. This type of cardio burns more energy from fat stores rather than carbohydrate stores. Examples:

  • Swimming

  • Biking

  • Jogging

  • Walking

  • Rowing

Pros: No need for recovery Burns calories from stored fat rather than stored carbohydrates It is safe for the general population Can be done anywhere Easier to stick too, as it is “comfortable” Cons: Can become boring Does not improve athletic performance Likely chance of plateau Can damage your metabolism What is HIIT: HIIT: High intensity interval training. This form of cardio is composed of short bursts of effort (10-30 seconds of “work”) paired with a short recovery (Low steady state work). These workouts are shorter, and tend to last 10-25 minutes. Your heart rate should stay between 120 bpm - 180 bpm. Example: Biking- 20 seconds all out sprint with a 1-2 min recovery. Running sprints Plyometrics Your HIIT workout ratio can be a 1:1 (max effort matches recovery time) or a 2:1 (recovery effort is half the max effort time). These ratios work great in terms of keeping it simple. Pros: Shorter workout Burns more calories Creative workouts Great for building athleticism Cons: Needs more recovery time Can be dangerous if not programmed correctly Does require more work Hormones can be thrown off due to added stress on the body So which is best? In a fat loss perspective, science has shown that one is not necessarily better than the other, the main difference happens to the time needed to complete the session. Now when looking at which one to do there are a few factors to keep in mind, what are your goals? If you’re looking for a lower impact, slower type of cardio, then LISS could be a better fit for you. If you’re an athlete or needing shorter cardio sessions HIIT could be a better fit for you. It should also be noted that this cardio should not be your primary tool for fat loss, in fact your diet should be your first go to. The second thing to point out when deciding which cardio is right would be injuries or even age. Lastly, you need to do one that you are able to stick to doing / don’t dread every time. Just like any training, you can overdo the amount your performing as well. Keeping in mind that HIIT takes longer to recover, I would suggest keeping HIIT at 3x per week with a day of recovery in between. Since LIIS is not taxing to the body, you could safely do it 5x a week if you wanted. Remember your body grows more in the rest / recovery phase, not by beating yourself up in the gym everyday.