HIIT and LISS: How These Opposites Attract & Will Help You Lose Weight!

by Vikki Schembri on August 04, 2021

You’re probably familiar with HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training – because it is known for promising the best workout in the least amount of time. HIIT usually involves doing short bursts of intense exercise with schedule rest breaks, and includes a mix of aerobic and resistance training.

This type of training is designed to make your heart reach meet at least 80% of it’s maximum capacity for 1-5 minutes at a time. The point is to get your body moving with heart-pounding intensity, and can result in improved cardio-respiratory health and improved VO2 max.

And HIIT has a lesser known counterpart called LISS!

What is LISS?

LISS, on the other hand, stands for Low-Intensity Steady State training.

This style of training is the opposite of HIIT: you won’t feel like your heart is popping out of your chest at the end of a set. Instead, you’ll work at a sustainable pace and focus on consistency for a longer period of time.

These workouts may consist of running, cycling, or swimming… but they don't have to be long, boring, unimodal workouts.

Any strength or cardio workout can be approached with a LISS format! What’s more, LISS is a great complement to HIIT that can really stress your body out.

Combining these two workout formats can be great for your body AND your goals!

Structuring Your LISS & HIIT Workouts

Combining LISS and HIIT workouts throughout your week will help you get the best of both worlds. HIIT workouts burn more calories; LISS workouts require less recovery time; and combining the two help you achieve and preserve lean muscle mass.

Aim for no more than 3 HIIT workouts a week; and it's a great idea to alternate between LISS and HIIT.

To ensure success, structure your workouts around your schedule so it’s easier to stick to: on days you have more time, schedule a LISS. On days where time and energy are in short supply, throw in a 15 minute HIIT and get on with your life!

When creating a HIIT or LISS workout, they aren’t that different in the planning stage!

Choose some movements that will get you a full body workout and incorporate complementary push and pull movements (ex. burpees, pull ups, squats, box jumps). Then choose a workout style.

Example: EMOM.

  • If doing a HIIT workout, choose heavier weights and lower reps that will give you approximately 30 seconds of rest during each interval. Aim for a 15 minute EMOM.
  • For a LISS workout, choose lighter weights and higher reps that you can move through at a pretty consistent and even pace, moving from minute to minute. Aim for a 40 minute EMOM.

Example: AMRAP.

  • 15 minute HIIT AMRAP. Formulate the reps and weights such that you don’t get “stuck” on a movement & need rest/lose intensity.
  • 30-50 minute LISS AMRAP. Formulate the reps and weight such that you move at a consistent pace (can-hold-a-conversation-level pace); OR give yourself time to recover between rounds such that you can perform each round in about the same amount of time. Your first and last round should be the same time/intensity.

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