By Cody Lichthardt, Personal Trainer, Rock Valley Physical Therapy
HIIT and LISS are great exercise formats that work particularly well together.
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. LISS is short for low intensity steady state.
HIIT seems to have stolen the spotlight recently, but does that mean it should be the only form of exercise you should be doing?
Let’s break down the 2 types and see how you can incorporate both into your routine for best results.
What is HIIT?
HIIT refers to alternating your workout intensity between high and low.
The beginner exerciser can do this based on how they feel and achieve great results.
The advanced exerciser or someone training for a specific goal may wish to calculate their high intensity and low intensity ranges.
What is LISS?
LISS refers to exercising at low intensity for an extended period of time and NOT alternating between high and low.
Like HIIT, one can achieve good results basing their intensity solely on how they feel, but calculating the low intensity zone can be beneficial for some.
Benefits of HIIT
HIIT has gained its recent popularity for its ability to get great results in less time.
Because the intensity is higher, the workout duration is shorter, usually no more than 20 minutes. The higher intensity also results in more calories being burned post-workout.
A recent study by Mayo Clinic found that in addition to the numerous other benefits HIIT provides, it also can make you younger at the cellular level.
That means you are not only changing your physique when you perform HIIT, but you also are improving the way your body functions.
Benefits of LISS
LISS has been a favorite to many for a long time because of the amount of calories it burns during a session.
Because the intensity is lower, these sessions are typically much longer than a HIIT session, lasting anywhere from 20 – 60 minutes.
Forms of LISS exercise tend to be lower impact, which is ideal for people with painful joints.
How to calculate heart rate zones for HIIT and LISS
High intensity is a heart rate percentage between 85 – 92% of your maximum. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220, and then multiply your maximum heart x .85 and .92 to get your high zone in beats per minute.
To calculate your low zone, multiple your max heart rate x .6 and .7.
The low intensity heart rate percentages used for LISS are the same as the low zone used previously in HIIT.
Use both HITT and LISS!
Using both formats allows you to gain the benefits of both, and still recover properly.
HIIT works well before or after resistance training sessions. Perform 20 – 30 minutes of resistance training, followed by 4 – 20 minutes of HIIT, 3 days a week.
On your in-between days, perform LISS exercise for 20 – 60 minutes, such as walking, jogging or biking.
Alternating HIIT and LISS allows you to gain the benefits of both types of exercise and still recover properly.
Not sure what exercises to do? Nearly every exercise you can do with LISS, you can do with HIIT.
For example, if you currently bike at a steady speed for 30 minutes at a low intensity, try biking faster for 20 seconds to get into your high zone, followed by 60 seconds at a lower speed to bring your heart rate back down into the low zone. You will be able to achieve the same results in less time.
Cody Lichthardt is a Performance Enhancement Specialist at Quad City Sport Performance and a Certified Personal Trainer at Rock Valley Health. Cody works to help others gain the benefits of training and proper nutrition. You can read Cody’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.