You know that exercise is the foundation to good health and creating the physique you want, but wading through the variety of exercise programs can be confusing. Two popular forms of training are high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and low-intensity steady state training (LISS). While these two are on opposite ends of the spectrum, they can both be effective based on your personal goals and needs. Let’s take a closer look at these two work out forms and determine which works best for you.
What is HIIT?
High-intensity interval training generally involves short, quick and intense bursts of exercise interspersed with short (and often active) recovery periods. HIIT is designed to get your heart rate up and keep it up to burn more fat in less time. The idea is that the intense workouts cause an increased need for oxygen, causing your body to starve for more oxygen even when you are at rest. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is the reported reason that HIIT burns more calories than other workouts.
The Benefits of HIIT
The biggest benefit of high-intensity interval training is that it increases your resting metabolism by combining intense, almost nonstop exercises with EPOC during rest periods and after your workout. Some studies suggest that you may experience a significant boost in your metabolism for up to 48 hours after a successful HIIT workout, ensuring that you burn fat and calories even when you’re not at the gym.
Studies show that just one minute of high-intensity exercise can also increase your endurance, which can carry over to other activities and exercises. High-intensity interval training also improves your blood pressure and can increase the number of mitochondria in your cells, which act to give more power and energy to your brain and body.
HIIT also comes with plenty of practical benefits. The workout is designed to be short and quick, making it convenient to fit into your schedule. Most full workouts are less than 30 minutes long, which means fewer excuses to not workout. Furthermore, HIIT does not require any special equipment. That means no weight machines, dumbbells or medicine balls necessary. Most HIIT exercises use only your body weight for optimal muscle building. This just adds to the convenience factor. If you are traveling or otherwise prefer not to go to a gym, you can perform a full HIIT workout in your home, in a hotel room, at a park or wherever you feel most comfortable.
What is LISS?
At the other end of the spectrum is LISS, which stands for low-intensity steady state. It involves light cardio performed for a consistent rate and at a longer period of time, keeping you at about 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. LISS exercises can comprise running, biking, swimming, walking or using the stair-stepper or elliptical machine. The main goal of a LISS workout is to work at a low to moderate intensity for up to an hour. After about a month, you can increase the duration or the intensity while still maintaining the feeling that you’re exerting yourself at the same low level.
The Benefits of LISS
While it may not immediately increase your metabolism the way that HIIT does, LISS can help to condition your body over time to use fat stores as your main source of fuel during workouts. It essentially allows you to lose weight while exerting very little effort, though over a longer period of time.
LISS exercises also tend to be low impact, meaning less stress and pressure on your bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles. This makes it a great exercise for older individuals and people recovering from an injury looking to get back into shape without having to dive immediately into the deep end with HIIT or other intense exercises. This also makes it less intimidating for those new to exercise looking to get stronger. Performing more LISS activities over time helps to build strength, endurance and, most importantly, confidence so that you can eventually take on harder, more intense workouts.
The low intensity and low impact of LISS allow your body to recover faster. That means you can workout every day without needing to worry about injury or overtraining yourself. More back-to-back workouts means more movement and less of the sedentary lifestyle.
Which Workout is Better?
Both HIIT and LISS can be effective, but neither workout is particularly good on its own. LISS is good for beginners, but relying on it as your only form of exercise can eventually backfire. Your body knows how to adapt over time, so walking on the treadmill for a month straight may just cause your progress to plateau, meaning less weight lost and fewer muscle gains. Furthermore, LISS may not fit your personality. If you thrive on creativity and improvising as you go, LISS exercises can easily get monotonous and boring, which can make it difficult to motivate yourself if you’re already not a huge fan of exercise to begin with.
HIIT can help you burn calories consistently and build muscle, but it can be intimidating for beginners. Pushing through the pain of a sweaty, intense workout while your heart is beating hard can be tough if you don’t already have the motivation or mindset. HIIT also requires rest and recovery, which may not work if you are an antsy, active person.
The best solution: a bit of both. On days when you are recovering from HIIT, perform LISS exercises to stay active and limber without putting extra stress on your muscles. You can also do LISS exercises after a HIIT session to cool the body down and round out your workout.
At the same time, don’t forget about your diet. A good diet that includes all the right macronutrients is half the battle when it comes to losing weight and building a lean, muscular physique. You should also consider incorporating a supplement, like mTOR Pro™ from MYOKEM™. mTOR Pro™ is an effective amino acid supplement that can help to speed up recovery, strength and power, which can assist you in reaching new goals whether you’re doing HIIT or LISS.