Brenton Barker

HIIT Vs LISS: Which Is Best For Cardio?

With so many variations of cardio to choose from, it’s tricky to know which is best and where to start. Today we examine the two most popular cardio types: HIIT and LISS.


When it comes to cardio exercise, the big discussion is between HIIT and LISS.

HIIT stands for High-Intensity-Interval-Training, which involves fast efforts of intense activity followed by periods of rest. On the other hand, LISS stands for Low-Intensity Steady State, which involves a constant pace of exercise for a specific time, with effort levels often monitored by heart rate.

Simply put, HIIT involves a high-caloric burn followed by a low-calorie burn, while LISS maintains a consistent caloric burn. Therefore, at the end of the workout, they both result in similar calorie burns, they just go about it differently.

Ultimately, the decision between the two typically depends on the amount of time and effort you’re willing to commit to each type of workout.

LISS and HIIT – what’s the difference?

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT has gained immense popularity as a cardio exercise in recent years. This technique requires you to exert maximum effort for short bursts, followed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise.

HIIT is incredibly flexible, as it can be implemented with any form of cardiovascular exercise. Whether you prefer rowing, running, or cycling, HIIT is a highly effective technique for building muscle and shedding unwanted fat.

If you are seeking a workout that is both quick and effective, then HIIT is the ideal choice for you. It usually takes only 15 to 30 minutes to finish, making it a perfect option for those with a hectic lifestyle.

Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS)

On the other hand, if you prefer a more gradual and steady way of exercising, then LISS would be a better option. LISS is the complete opposite of HIIT and can be likened to the tortoise, while HIIT is more like the hare.

If you’re looking to build muscle and lose fat, both LISS and HIIT are great options, but they have different approaches. LISS cardio involves exercising at a slower pace for a longer period of time, typically between 30-60 minutes.

You can do LISS on a treadmill, an indoor bike, or a VersaClimber, just like HIIT.

What are the benefits of HIIT and LISS?


Engaging in cardio activities not only helps with weight loss but also offers a multitude of other benefits. While running and cycling are popular choices, there are plenty of additional reasons to incorporate cardio into your routine.

1Enhanced blood flow and circulation

Partaking in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or low-intensity steady-state (LISS) workouts undoubtedly amplifies the oxygen levels in your bloodstream. This, in turn, intensifies circulation, heightens your heart rate, and cultivates superior blood flow throughout your entire physique.

A study conducted by scientists from the University of Colorado found that 20 sedentary men, with an average age of 53, significantly improved their endothelial function after participating in a walking exercise program for 12 weeks. The results were comparable to those of middle-aged men who had been exercising for years, proving that exercise is beneficial for people of all ages.

2Increased fat loss

To lose fat, cardio is a great option. HIIT and LISS are both effective methods since they increase the oxygen flow in the blood, which is then converted into energy. This additional oxygen is important because it helps the body burn fat rather than muscle mass.

A study was conducted on women who followed a HIIT program for three months. The program included three weekly 20-minute sessions of HIIT, which consisted of an 8-second sprint followed by 12 seconds of low-intensity cycling. Another group of women performed LISS cycling for 40 minutes at 60% VO₂ Max.

The results revealed that the participants who followed the HIIT program lost 2.5 kg more fat than those who performed LISS cycling.

3Extremely time-efficient

For a time-efficient yet effective workout, HIIT sessions at the gym are a must-try. To reap the maximum benefits, we strongly suggest dedicating at least 20 minutes to this high-intensity routine.

Scientific studies have proven that a 20-minute HIIT workout can burn just as many calories as a 40-minute steady-state ride. That’s right, you can burn the same amount of calories in just half the time!

4Improved cardiovascular health

It’s essential to prioritise the health of your heart because, as the adage goes, “You only have one.” Engaging in LISS cardio exercises can improve blood flow and circulation, which in turn increases oxygen supply throughout the body. This can help reduce stress on your heart and enhance your well-being.

Studies conducted by Johns Hopkins have found that engaging in regular aerobic activities, like cycling, walking, and swimming, in addition to resistance training, can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes by more than 50%.

This is because it aids in the processing of glycogen, a crucial energy source. Impaired glycogen processing can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, which can ultimately lead to diabetes.

Taking care of your heart is crucial, and physical activity is one of the most effective ways to achieve this. Research conducted by Johns Hopkins shows that if you incorporate daily physical activity with a Mediterranean-style diet, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid smoking, you can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.

While these lifestyle factors may seem relatively simple and even obvious, they’ve been scientifically proven to lower the risk of death from any cause by a whopping 80%.


Sum it up

By understanding the energy systems of your body and incorporating HIIT or LISS cardio, you can take your fitness routine to the next level. With this knowledge, you can now optimize your workouts and achieve your goals more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

We hope the information provided has shed some light on the complexities of cardio workouts and will help you in achieving your desired fitness results.

Good luck from the entire Healthypedia team!

Want to learn more?

In this informative podcast, Andy Galpin, Ph.D., a kinesiology professor, describes various protocols to boost different types of physical endurance, including muscular and anaerobic capacity and aerobic output. He also demonstrates how the body uses distinct energy sources during rest and exercise. This podcast is well worth the watch for any fitness fan.

Healthypedia FAQ

High-intensity exercise may indeed result in more effective fat loss per minute compared to low-intensity exercise. However, it's important to note that the latter has the potential to produce greater weight loss overall. This is because low-intensity exercise can be sustained for longer, leading to more calories burned and, ultimately, more weight loss.

Participating in LISS, also known as low- to moderate-intensity exercise, can undoubtedly bring about significant health benefits. Research has demonstrated that it can effectively reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Furthermore, LISS can enhance strength, cardiovascular fitness, cognitive health, and sleep quality.

If you're looking to lose weight, the most effective forms of cardio are low-impact exercises such as indoor rowing, stair climbing, and indoor cycling. Alternatively, you can incorporate HIIT workouts in small amounts, such as kickboxing, spin classes, and CrossFit.

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