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HIIT VS LISS: High-Intensity versus Low-Intensity Workouts

Sep 28, 2016 02:00PM ● By Becca Newell
By Becca Newell

From running to resistance training and all those aerobic and anaerobic exercises in between, fitness, like most things in life, is not a one-size-fits-all situation. But it’s not simply the exercise itself that differs from one person to the next. The time spent per session and intensity of training is also a component that varies among fitness buffs.

Over the last few years, one exercise pattern has become more mainstreamed: High-Intensity Impact Training, or HIIT. The method, which comprises short bursts of intense activity with intervals of low-effort exercise, is perfect for those desiring a vigorous workout that doesn’t require any overtime in the gym.

As with most trends, after an imminent peak in popularity, gym experts predict the pattern will soon shift to a more laid-back approach, otherwise known as LISS (Low Intensity Steady-State) or endurance training. Familiar to the everyday gym-goer, this type of training—as its name suggests—encourages a consistent, but mild effort for a prolonged duration.

While the two forms are more opposite than alike, studies suggest each offer similar benefits when it comes to weight loss and general fitness. One study indicated that LISS training leads to reduced blood pressure; another study saw improved athletic performance in triathletes who added a HIIT-based running plan to their training. Similarly, a 2011 study implied that two weeks of HIIT “improves aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training.“

And although a high-intensity workout burns more calories per minute, if you’re new to the fitness world or struggle to find the stamina for HIIT, it’s probably best to ease into intensive training. Studies suggest HIIT increases the risk of muscle damage and soreness, so be wary of over-exertion. There are programs that employ interval training without the intensity factor, which might be an ideal approach to easing into a higher intensity program. For example, if walking is your current exercise of choice, try intervals of jogging lightly or walking at a faster pace.

Overall, it’s a matter of preference. Perhaps the lure of a quicker gym sesh makes up for the somewhat intimidating—and exhausting—nature of HIIT. Perhaps you’ll find a slow and steady fitness routine wins the weight-loss war. Like almost everything, it’s all about moderation—or rather a combination of contradictory methods, perhaps.

HIIT Exercises

Repeat up to three times a week. Focus on good form; speed will follow. Don’t forget a rest day in between!
Courtesy of Danny Lee, Director of Personal Training at Gold’s Gym in Crofton

Beginner (10-minute routine)

Air Squats for 20 seconds at full intensity, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Push-Ups (or Assisted Push-Ups) for 20 seconds at full intensity, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat for a total of 10 minutes.

Intermediate (15-minute routine)

Mountain Climbers for 30 seconds at full intensity, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Alternating Lunges for 30 seconds at full intensity, follow by 30 seconds of rest. Bench Dips for 30 seconds at full intensity, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat for a total of 15 minutes.

Advanced (20-minute routine)

Burpees for 40 seconds at full intensity, followed by a Front Plank for 20 seconds. Box Jumps for 40 seconds at full intensity, followed by a Right Side Plank for 20 seconds. Squat Jumps for 40 seconds at full intensity, followed by a Left Side Plank for 20 seconds. Repeat for a total of 20 minutes.

LISS Exercises

Two to three times a week for 30 to 40 minutes
  • Power Walking
  • Rowing
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Elliptical

Video Tutorials Below



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