I have such a hate and love relationship with cardio (cardiovascular exercise). I know I need it, as cardio has a range of health benefits and makes me feel happier and more energized in the long term. Although cardio should not be abused – too MUCH cardio can stress your body out and can actually cause your weight loss to stop – I personally like to do cardio a few times a week (plus I have to do it a certain amount of times a week since I am following the Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide).
An important distinction to make with cardio, is what type of cardio you are doing. There are essentially two types of cardio: HIIT (high intensity interval training) and LISS (low intensity steady state).
HIIT training involves periods of alternating intense exercise (sprints for example) with periods of recovery (a walk or a slow jog for example). HIIT training allows you to exercise at a higher intensity for longer periods of time than steady state exercise would.
LISS training involves long periods of low intensity exercise which can include activities like walking. You stay at this pace throughout the whole workout and maintain the same level of intensity.
What are the differences between HIIT and LISS training?
HIIT and LISS training both offer benefits and is still a widely discussed topic in the world of health and fitness. Which is better? Should we just do HIIT, LISS, or a combination of both?
Well, HIIT and LISS training are two different types of training, so it depends on what you like to do and what your goals are. I personally prefer a mixture – LISS training lets me catch up on social media and watch youtube videos on my phone (lol), whereas HIIT training is done in a fairly short amount of time. Both leave me dripping in sweat and making me feel accomplished.
Although both types of cardio raise your heart rate, at a lower heart rate (during LISS training) your body prefers to use fat for its energy, thus burning fat. At a higher heart rate, your body starts to use sugar instead of fat for energy, thus burning sugar and tapping into your glycogen stores.
So LISS essentially sounds like the perfect form of cardio right? That’s our goal anyway huh, to burn fat! Not quite so simple .. with anything, our bodies adapt to things really quickly, so at some point your body will get used to your LISS training and you won’t get the results you want and crave. Also a study was done by Pacheco which found that rats that did HIIT training lost more fat than the rats who did LISS training (however rats are very different to humans …). HIIT training has also been found to increase endurance, speed, and your metabolic rate (which may be why it helped contribute to the fat loss in the rats?). What is also interesting is that LISS has been touted as a way to lose fat and keep your muscles (HIIT training has been attributed to muscle loss), whereas other articles state that HIIT actually optimizes muscle strength and growth! Layne Norton wrote an interesting article on it and since hehas a PhD, I really value his input.
So see, there is still a lot of debate as to which is better and honestly I say do what makes you feel good and keeps you interested. And mix it up, keep challenging your body! Try a mix of HIIT and LISS and see how they work for you. Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide personally recommends quite a lot of LISS training (as she finds this the most effective form of cardio for slimming women’s thighs) and adds in HIIT training towards the end of the program.
I hope this article has been interesting and helpful for you! Let me know of any other articles related to this topic; I am always interested and open to knowing and learning more 🙂
Alfonso. (2012). What is LISS cardio? Retrieved from http://angrytrainerfitness.com/2012/06/ask-alfonso-what-is-l-i-s-s-cardio/
Guiraud, et al. (2012). High-Intensity Interval Training in Cardiac Rehabilitation. Sports Medicine, vol. 42(7), pp.587-605.
Itsines, K. (2014). Bikini Body Guide. E-book.
Obadike, O. (2012). Why does HIIT burn so much fat? Retrieved from: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-ripped-dude-hiit.html
Norton, L. (2012). Best form of cardio for bodybuilding? Retrieved from http://www.biolayne.com/contest-prep/best-form-of-cardio-for-bodybuilding/
Image from http://elitedaily.com/life/the-results-from-fasted-cardio/