Why We All Need a Bit of LISS in Our Life

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

LISS workouts are the latest fitness trend, comprising both high impact and low intensity exercise. Here’s what you need to know

Text: Anna A

Fitness routines don’t always need to be fast-paced and gruelling: lower-heart rate and slower paced activities have huge benefits for a holistic, well-rounded workout. The acronym LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State) has been around for a while, but now more than ever it’s being increasingly incorporated into exercise regimes for a new spin on cardiovascular exercise.

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What exactly is LISS versus HIIT?

LISS includes a few different forms of exercise that keep a consistent, steady pace such as walking, hiking, swimming and cycling. The aim is for the individual to carry out a low level of physical exertion over a more extended period of time of 45 – 60minutes and all in one session, rather than completing short bursts like a HIIT workout requires.

In comparison, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) requires much less time — usually about 20 minutes — and you're required to put in maximum effort in condensed intervals. It’s a fitness craze which has become increasingly popular over the last decade due to its fat-burning ability (It can increase your metabolic rate by a whopping 45 per cent). Perfect for a workout at home. All you need is space and a few bits of equipment.

What are the benefits of LISS training?

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LISS training is accessible for all individuals of any fitness level and its physical benefits include pain elimination, posture improvement and fat burning. Plus, it’s free. For instance, a LISS workout could be a walk around your local area, a leisurely cycle around East Coast or a swim in your pool. Renowned fitness trainers such as ‘The Body Coach’ Joe Wicks and Kayla Itsines have even created a range of online low-intensity workouts for viewers to do at home.

As a family-friendly exercise regime, LISS promotes social exercise so you can still gossip with friends or siblings as you workout (no time for that during a swift HIIT sesh). Unlike HIIT workouts, there's no limit to how much you can do, and you don't need to take rest days. LISS is a sensible way to increase your energy expenditure, and for those actively looking to lose weight, it’s a winner too.

“The major pros of LISS are the fact that it improves cardiovascular health with a faster recovery time each session than running, boxing or spinning for example,” says Singapore-based personal trainer Dan Hammond. “With minimal risk of injury, it’s a great way to train for a beginner or someone that has never trained before and also requires very little if any equipment.”

When undertaking LISS training, your goal should be to keep your heart rate to about 50 to 65% of your maximum heart rate. In contrast, with HIIT, you're looking at maintaining a level of 80 to 95% of your maximum heart rate. The great aspect of HIIT is that “as the body is working hard to replenish energy stores, regulate hormones and repair muscle, it will also be continuing to burn calories long after you’ve finished a HIIT workout,” says Dan. (Hello, guilt- free treat!)

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We’re not saying you should replace HIIT with LISS, but rather, combine them. “Both training methods have massive benefits for your health and fitness. The key is finding the right amount of each for your specific needs and goals,” says Dan. “Finding the right balance, coupled with a healthy diet, should help you achieve the results you desire.”

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