LISS Training: Should You Try It? Everything you need to know!

Jeff Baldelli
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What is LISS Training?

Low intensity steady state (LISS) training is a family of aerobic methods that makes use of moderate intensity rates. However, the intensity is intended to be constant throughout the session rather than increasing and decreasing as is the case in interval training.

The term “steady state” refers to the fact that the working heart rate (HR) should remain constant throughout the training session.

How Does It Compare to HIIT Training and SIT?

When considering the intensity and duration of aerobic training sessions, the three most common options are:

Intensity is measured by heart rate (HR) and calculated using heart rate reserve. A moderate intensity is between 50-60% of maximum heart rate; a high intensity is over 60% of maximum heart rate.

Considering duration, low-intensity is somewhere between 10-50 minutes, high-intensity is under 10 minutes, and high-intensity interval training ranges from 10-30 minutes.

While low-intensity training sessions can be either continuous or interval, high-intensity interval training and high-intensity steady-state training refers only to interval training sessions.

HIIT and LISS training both make relatively small demands on your body compared to other types of workouts.

What’s the Difference Between LISS and HIIT?

HIIT and LISS may seem like similar training variables, such as a difference between high intensity and high volume. However, it’s important to understand the nuance of each, and how they may help your workout regime.

HIIT is one of the most popular forms of cardio, and it works by alternating short bursts of high intensity exercise with short periods of low intensity cardio (rest). To truly capitalize on the benefits of HIIT, it’s important to work at an intensity that you couldn’t sustain for a long period of time. This is why HIIT can be so effective in improving speed as a runner.

LISS is considered to be steady moderate cardio, which means that it’s typically more of a low intensity workout that doesn’t require a break. In some situations, it may incorporate very intense bursts of speed that require a brief recovery time in between.

So, is LISS a better way of training than HIIT?

It depends on your individual situation. Generally speaking, LISS is a better way to improve the endurance in your body and prepare you for longer, more intense cardio sessions.

The Benefits of LISS

In contrast to HIIT, LISS training is considered a form of Steady State Training, which, in turn, is a form of aerobic activity. Breathing is quite steady while performing LISS, and heart rate stays at a lower level.

LISS is popular in the general fitness community, best analyzed as one of the most inclusive and complete forms of aerobic training.

The steady pace means that you can get a nearly perfect estimate of your heart rate, and it can be achieved by almost anyone who puts their mind to it.

Type I

If you choose to start listening to music while training, you will be listening to the type of LISS cardio in its purest form.

Type I cardio movements, which are low intensity and low impact, include things like climbing stairs and walking. When you do these types of workouts, you can always still carry a conversation, and you will never completely lose your breath.

Because of this, it is difficult to track the actual amount of calories you burn or the time period that you go for. For this reason, it is recommended that you keep a watch-like device that can display your heart rate.

LISS is Relatively Safe

In theory, LISS training can be used by anybody.

In practice, however, people who are very deconditioned or have undiagnosed health conditions should probably try to exercise in a more conventional way of doing things (more on that later).

Fortunately, LISS is safe for most people. The biggest danger, which we’ll get to later, is the temptation to fall asleep.

Other than that, LISS does not require any skill or aptitude other than the ability to push yourself, think about what you’re doing, and the mental focus to not think of everything and anything while you’re running.

Before you begin, though, think very carefully about whether or not you’re in a good enough shape to embark on this journey.

If anything sounds off about your body, the following warning is likely also true of your heart: Don’t push it!

Slow Burn

One really good thing that helps explain why LISS is good for you is that it’s closer to the way we normally move on a day-to-day basis. We walk. We don’t always run.

LISS is Great for Any Fitness Level

While HIIT training is probably the more popular alternative form of training, LISS can also be a good option. LISS is has the same benefits of HIIT training, but without the intensity, which makes it a good choice if you have any health or physical fitness concerns.

LISS is also called “cardio” without the “aerobics,” because it involves taking in large amounts of oxygen during the exercises. This is the way in which you raise your heart rate. This type of cardio is milder than HIIT training, but just as effective. One of many benefits of LISS is the fact that it can burn the same amount of calories as HIIT without as much of an impact.

So, if you have an injury, you are older, or you are following a specific exercise plan like P90X, one of the largest benefits of LISS is that you will be able to stick with your program much more easily.

LISS is Free

Perhaps the most underrated form of exercise is walking, or more accurately, what is known as light to moderate continuous exercise training, or LISS for short.

LISS is usually defined as exercise that is performed at 50 to 69% of VO2 max, a measurement of your maximum oxygen uptake. This is a measurement which can be easily measured exercise.

If you aren’t a fast runner or weightlifter, then chances are you are exercising under 50% of your VO2 max. For many recreationally active people, the heart rate will only increase up to the 50% level.

Now what is important to note is that while LISS is defined as between 50 and 69% of VO2 max, it’s actually better to target 60 to 69% of VO2 max to create the maximum benefit. This a fine line which you should be trying to reach.

You can measure this yourself if you invest in a heart rate monitor or start using some of the apps available from our Top 10 Apps for Runners article. By measuring the percentage of your heart rate that is being used, you can work toward the mid range but still target the 60 to 69% range that creates the most benefits.

LISS Burns Fat

Keeps You Lean, and Prevents Cancer.

Jogging on the treadmill for an hour at a steady pace is great for the heart and can help you burn a lot of calories in the process. However, if you’re not careful, you could end up putting on some extra fat in the process.

One of the benefits of intermittent exercise, as you’ll see as you continue to read this book, is that it burns through a lot of calories in a shorter amount of time. This is in contrast to exercises that you do at a steady pace, where you burn fewer calories per hour.

In fact, one estimate suggests burning 600 calories in just 10 minutes as opposed to an hour. This is one of the main reasons why so many workout programs include high-intensity interval training.

This isn’t just something you’ll be able to say you did when you hit your thirties. Interval training can increase your metabolism for up to six hours after completing a workout. This means that you’ll burn more calories than the amount you just burned during the workout.

You can even burn fat while you do rest days. Interval training contributes to EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), a phenomenon that occurs after exercise.

LISS is Excellent for Endurance Training

HEY!

If you want to learn more about how long sessions of cardio are great for endurance training, then this is the perfect section for you!

  • It goes without saying that I’m talking about low-intensity steady state. Any type of interval training is great for improving the body, but this book is about getting the absolute most out of your body, and the low-intensity steady state (LISS) is the best way to do it.
  • Don’t worry, though. I’ll cover interval training later on, so you won’t miss out!

As you get older, your body doesn’t accumulate endurance-training stress as well as it used to. In fact, studies show that even the fittest of us lose fitness after we hit 40.

The “aging phenotype” of this loss in fitness is characterized by having a slow initial muscle contraction speed, slow muscle relaxation, and reduced muscle tension. More specifically, muscle glycolytic capacity declines, mitochondria (the body’s source of energy) decline, and the enzymes that produce energy are decreased.

In other words, our natural ability to cope with the stress that endurance exercise puts on our bodies comes to a screeching halt after 40.

Does LISS Have Disadvantages?

Yes. The biggest disadvantages are the reasons most people don’t attempt LISS workouts. Long-interval training leads to serious cardio fitness if you stick with it and have the motivation. The main reasons people don’t stick with LISS is their busy schedules, lack of motivation, and dislike of HIIT sessions.

For those who are very busy, the longer intervals may seem like a chore. For those who are unmotivated, the longer time required to see a visible difference in fitness levels may be discouraging, too.

If you’re not a fan of HIIT, then you may find LISS to be more enjoyable. However, it does require a lot more time than HIIT.

What Should You Consider when Choosing a LISS Workout?

The question of “What are the best companies for running shoes?” can be a tough one. Instead, let’s start with “What is the best type of running shoe?” While this may seem like a redundant question, it’s really not.

LISS can be Boring (for Some)

LISS is great for your health because it lessens your risk of chronic disease but that doesn’t mean you should look forward to exercising to chill music for 30 minutes.

To get the most out of it, you need some level of mental engagement. Basing your exercises on a sequence of movements that you do on a machine or on a mat is a sure way to make it boring, hence the prevalence of popular mind games to kill time during LISS.

However, try doing LISS as part of your circuit training and you’ll find yourself in a totally different ball game. Remember, you’ll be doing more of the high-intensity exercises like sprint intervals and resistance training, so it’s guaranteed that you won’t get bored. This little change will be enough to help you enjoy LISS training.

LISS can work well in loss aversion, the psychology that makes your brain more sensitive to losing something good than gaining something promising. You’re less likely to think of the time you spent doing LISS as a waste if you’re not “tacked” to a seemingly unending list of tasks.

LISS Requires Time

But…

If your goal is to become more comfortable with your body and feel good about yourself, it is worth it.

If we have to sell it to you, then maybe do some extra research to find out what other readers feel about LISS Training.

I believe you will be amazed.

Please note that I did not write this article for LISS fans. I wrote it for the others!

There are two major drawbacks to LISS.

First, it takes a lot of time. At the very beginning, you may have to do this as much as three to four times per week, in order to get significant results. If time is important to you, you may easily see the point where it's just not worth it.

If you're a busy professional, you may consider this worthless, while if you have a ton of spare time, LISS is a winner.

The second drawback to LISS is related to the first. The weight loss that comes from LISS is not a result of picking a few pounds off the scale. It comes from the improvement in your body composition and other related factors.

Don’t get us wrong. The scale does count in the long run. We are trying to point out that LISS can do so much more.

Overtraining Using LISS Increases Your Chance of Injury

Low-intensity steady-state training (LISS) is one of the most popular forms of cardio training. It is also one of the most controversial forms of cardio training. In short, LISS consists of training at a low to moderate intensity for a prolonged period of time.

Although this may sound like it could be effective in many ways, some argue that it does not contribute to your muscular endurance or your overall health.

The Good: LISS Benefits

Plenty of people still do low-intensity exercise. The reason for this is that research shows that you can still reap many benefits out of doing LISS…

1: It Gets the Heart Rate Up

Although low intensity steady state exercise may not contribute to muscular endurance, it could be beneficial to the health of your heart. Doing a steady state cardio session may help the heart work more efficiently.

It does this by causing the heart to work within its target heart rate zone for a prolonged amount of time. Just because you’re not physically challenging your heart does not mean that it isn’t working.

Moreover, because people do not require a high metabolic demand to complete a LISS session, they often can perform them for longer periods of time. This allows them to train continuously for 25 to 40 minutes.

2: It Can Be an Effective Way to Lose Weight

What is LISS Cardio?

LISS cardio stands for long, low-intensity steady-state cardio. As the name suggests, this type of cardio works the same way as the standard low intensity, steady-state cardio, but the duration is much longer.

Essentially, LISS involves a sustained period of cardio activity that lasts for more than 10 minutes. There is no real standard for what the best duration is, but most people think that 15 or 20 minutes is enough.

This is a popular way to get in shape and stay in shape without the need for any extra gym equipment. People who practice LISS will often do standard exercises like running, cycling, and swimming.

The Benefits of LISS Training

While the concept seems simple enough, the reality, as is often the case in fitness, is more complicated than it appears.

LISS training is not recommended for everyone. It may be a good way to get an extra workout in when you’re pressed for time or when you’re feeling a little off, but it’s not the most effective or routine way to get fit.

Let’s look at the pros and cons.

The GOOD

LISS training doesn’t take a lot of time, which is a huge advantage for most people.

Should You Try LISS Cardio?

In a nutshell, LISS is low-intensity steady state cardio. There are many types of cardio exercises, with running, walking, and cycling being the most popular.

The last of these, cycling is one of the best aerobic exercises that you can do. It is also the most practical, since it can be done almost everywhere you go by using a bicycle. Naturally, it is readily available, since most of us already own a bicycle.

It makes a perfect cardio exercise option, since unlike other exercises, it is something that you can do all year round, almost everywhere. It also doesn’t put as much strain on your knees, since the force to the legs are distributed across the bicycle pedal.

Cycling is also perfect for those who are looking to lose weight. It tones your muscles and increases your calorie burn. That is why it is one of the most recommended cardio exercises.

Let’s go over what it entails and how it can help you lose weight.

What Is LISS?

Let’s distinguish low-intensity steady state cardio from other types of cardio exercises, in terms of how they work. First of all, LISS is low intensity. LISS workouts are completed at moderate intensities. This is in direct contrast to high-intensity interval training, and all out sprints.

Getting Started: LISS Cardio Workouts

The most important thing about starting an LISS training program is to make sure you find an activity you enjoy. If you already own a fitness watch, you can use your accelerometer to measure your exercise levels, or you can download an app that tracks your activity levels.

Remember, the key to success here is to make it fun, and to be able to achieve the levels of exercise that you are aiming for.

Mindfulness

Properly scheduling a program makes it easier to stick to, so make sure you include time periods for each of your workouts, as well as a rest period during the day.

Another thing about including a rest period is that it will be easier for you to feel motivated to work out and push yourself. Once you leave the gym, it’s a lot easier to lose steam, so you get more productive time in the gym if you will allow yourself to recover after the workout. This means more effective, and more fun, cardio sessions. If you want to make the most out of each session, make sure you are fueled up with a healthy dose of protein after the workout.

If you want to get the most out of your workouts in the short-term, you can use LISS training within a split routine, mixing in your high-intensity intervals one or two days a week, and leaving the remaining rest days for a more peaceful, slower interval.

LISS FAQ

LISS is Low Intensity Steady State training. It is a type of aerobic training that keeps your heart rate at a steady level for a long period of time. You can also think of it as a form of aerobic exercise where you keep your heart rate at a lower intensity, without much variation throughout the workout.

LISS is good for all fitness levels, and the best way to get started is by thinking of it as an active rest day.

Why, when, and What Is LISS?

By definition, LISS is done when your maximum heart rate is lower than when you do HIIT. However, here is where it gets a little tricky.

What Is This Max Heart Rate Everyone Talks About?

Max heart rate is the number of times your heart is able to beat in one minute.

What Is the Differences between LISS and HIIT?

HIIT is when you do intense intervals of cardio training with little to no rest. LISS is low intensity and constant heart rate for a long period of time.

What Are the Best Benefits of LISS?

LISS is a workout that will get the job done. It is called the slow but steady wins the race’.

Is LISS Good for Fat Loss?

LISS is popular amongst people who want to shed fat without exerting too much effort, whether they’re trying to get fit or they’re already very active. Many people resort to LISS as an alternative to intense workouts for days on end.

It’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with doing a LOT of low intensity workouts. Many people use them as a part of their strategy to lose weight.

However, you also need to realize that there’s a limit to what you can accomplish with just low intensity workouts.

These are the workouts where the speed is too slow and the effort is too little to burn fat. There is a big difference between burning calories and burning fat.

Typically, burning fat should be a goal of anyone who is overweight, or has tried to lose a lot of weight in the past without much success.

People who burn fat will almost always have a higher metabolism, which in turn will help them maintain their weight or lose weight.

So, if you are someone who wants to burn fat, or if you are overweight, then going slow may not really be an option for you.

This is why high intensity interval training is one of the best methods to burn fat.

Cardio Hormones: How to Increase Your Fat Burning Potential

Is LISS or HIIT better for Fat Loss?

Many people are asking if LISS or HIIT is better for fat loss. The truth is, it all comes down to what you want to achieve.

A 2016 study at the Quinnipiac University showed that HIIT was superior in weight loss and health benefits, while LISS was found to be better for fat oxidation.

The results were similar to another study by Dr. Thompson, who conducted a meta-analysis of it. This also concluded that HIIT was more effective than LISS, and it was confirmed by several other researchers as well.

But do you really need to strictly stick with one or the other?

It’s really up to you. Both HIIT and LISS have been found to be beneficial for health and weight management. The main difference is that HIIT is known to burn both fat and carbs as energy, while LISS is more effective for the fat burning process.

Just remember that, no matter what, you should always do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise and at least 5 days of cardio or resistance training a week for maximum results.

LISS for Endurance

Some athletes prefer to do LISS rather than HIIT simply because it’s more suitable for endurance. A study found that low intensity training is better for increasing the aerobic potential of the muscles.

How Long should You do LISS?

A lot of the research on LISS vs HIIT is focused on whether it is better to stay at low intensities for longer periods of time, which is how LISS training is typically performed.

This ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours, with intensity ranging from 50% to 70% of max heart rate.

This research also shows that you can reap the benefits of more intense cardio sessions in less time.

That being said, these studies mostly look at aerobic endurance, or your cardiovascular efficiency. This is what most people are concerned about when they think about cardio training.

While LISS training is a great way to improve this kind of endurance, it does have its limitations. Some of these limitations make HIIT the better option for some applications.

For example, HIIT training is a better way to improve at-home or studio training than LISS training is. HIIT training is also a better option for cardio-heavy sports, like soccer, tennis, squash, and rugby.

HIIT training can also improve your cardiovascular efficiency, your muscular endurance, and your anaerobic capacity, even though it’s usually performed over shorter periods of time.

What is Considered a LISS Workout?

In contrast to HIIT training, low-intensity steady-state training is much lower in intensity and usually consists of either jogging or cycling. LISS is also known at endurance or aerobic training.

Benefits of LISS

LISS training has been shown to have a variety of benefits for those who participate.

Enhanced Muscle Recovery

LISS training causes your muscles to consume oxygen as you move. The harder you push yourself, the more your muscles are required to consume oxygen, preparing them for more intense training.

Weight Loss

LISS training has a greater impact on your resting metabolic rate, which is used to calculate the amount of calories burned while resting each day. This makes LISS training an excellent way to burn fat rather than to simply tone muscle.

Metabolic Balance

According to researcher Bill Misner, PhD, in his book “Explosive Speed Training Speed Power,” your muscles and cardiovascular systems are both utilized a little differently with LISS training than when they’re pushed to a limit with HIIT training. This affects the balance of your body in that it reduces the ratio of anaerobic to aerobic metabolism in your muscle fibers, which increases your fat metabolism and speeds up your metabolism.

Types of LISS Training

LISS: Endurance-Specific Intervals

What should I Eat After LISS Cardio?

There is no easy way to answer this question. It depends on what you ate prior to the cardio workout, how long interval training will last, and if you’re taking in protein during your workout.

Because interval training will use more energy from your body, you should talk to a nutritionist to get a suitable diet plan for your body. This diet should include protein supplements, as well as drink supplements and energy bars, to help your body with burning fat while training.

If your cardio workout consists of weightlifting, you may also need to change what you eat. It will come down to how much protein you’re going to use while weightlifting. Instead of high calorie foods, you should use high protein foods. If you aren’t getting enough calories from your diet, then you should talk to a nutritionist to get advice on whether or not you need supplements.

Because calories, protein, and fats are the most important things to consider after a cardio workout, some great after cardio meal suggestions include:

  • scrambled eggs with vegetables
  • steak and potatoes
  • chicken with potatoes
  • salmon with rice
  • chicken with pasta
  • beef with vegetables
  • chicken with vegetables
  • peanut butter sandwiches
  • vegetable omelette

What should I Eat Before LISS Cardio?

Because you’re training for less than 45 minutes, then ideally you won’t need to eat anything. Your body will get a sufficient amount of energy from the fat cells in your body.

If you’re following a low-carb or intermittent fasting program, then you don’t even have to worry about consuming carbs and protein.

As the duration of your session grows, however, you may need some carbohydrates to give your body energy.

One general guideline is to consume 2 grams of carbs and 10 grams of protein for every pound of your target body weight when you workout less than 55 minutes.

When you exercise for longer than 55 minutes or you just want to be on the safe side, then you should consume 2 grams of carbs and 25 grams of protein for every pound of target body weight.

Now, the reason for this is that, when you consume carbs and protein before a workout, the nutrients should become available to your muscles during your workout.

That being said, what you should eat before your workout is not so much what you eat but how much you eat.

What should My LISS Heart Rate be?

If your goal is fat loss, then your heart rate zone should fall somewhere between 65 to 75 percent of your MHR (maximum heart rate).

A healthy target zone for weight loss is 60 to 65 percent of your MHR, which would equate to 135 to 150 beats per minute (BPM), or a minimum of 11 beats above your resting heart rate.

As a point of reference, the 180-lb. American male in the 25- to 34-year age range has a MHR of 220 BPM, which equates to a 65% heart rate zone for fat loss.

How to Track Your Heart Rate

Don’t panic if your equipment doesn’t list the BPM. A quick search of your heart rate zones is a simple solution.

First, zero your heart rate using a heart rate monitor or a yoga-style breathing exercise known as Sudarshan Kriya. Next, keep your pulse by taking your pulse while you rest for 30 seconds and then subtracting that reading from your average resting heart rate.

You can subtract another 5 BPM just to be safe, but this will vary depending on age and fitness level. Using this calculation, you can get a more detailed, accurate assessment of your total heart rate.

How Many Times a Week should I Perform LISS Training?

There’s no absolute limit to the number of days you can perform LISS training. You could theoretically go on breathing and you’d still be activating your muscles, so you could do LISS four times a day, every day of the week.

As a cautionary note, though, too much exercise can lead to overtraining, which is going to work against you rather than for you.

You can safely do LISS three times a week. To maximize your results and avoid overtraining, however, stop LISS training for a minimum of 48 hours between workouts. Remember, more does not always equal better.

How Long Should I Work out For?

The length of your workout for LISS will depend on how intense it is. The first 10 minutes are going to be easier than the last 10 minutes.

It’s recommended that you start off with at least 15 min of minimum intensity. The harder your workout is, the longer you need to maintain your intensity for.

A very mild workout might only need five minutes of minimum intensity.

What Is the MHR of LISS Training

Because your LISS training is going to last about an hour, the resistance you should use will depend on your MHR, or maximum heart rate. Your MHR is the highest it can go for a workout regiment.

Is Yoga LISS?

What is LISS?

As you may have guessed by the name, low-intensity steady-state cardio is a form of exercise that involves exercising at a low intensity.

This can include going for a slow jog, riding a bike, or even doing yoga.

However, a major difference between LISS and regular cardio is that with LISS, your body is in a constant state of recovery rather than in a constant state of effort.

What do you mean by “constant state of recovery”?

In LISS, you will work out at a set, low intensity for a set period of time. When you finally do reach a certain point of exhaustion, you will rest for a short duration before continuing on with another low-intensity session of the activity.

When you finish the entire routine, you will count this as one session. Repeat the same routine for the recommended amount of times to complete your allotted amount of LISS.

As for what activities can be used as LISS, they can vary everything from walking, jogging and biking to yoga, swimming, and using the elliptical machine.

What Are the Benefits of LISS?

There are two primary benefits of LISS: cardiovascular fitness and weight loss.

However, it’s important to note that this type of exercise is not recommended for building or toning muscle.

What are Examples of LISS?

The most popular forms of steady-state or low-intensity cardio are hiking, biking, walking, and swimming.

All of these activities are great ways to maintain a low, steady state of activity without requiring much concentration or energy. Since you’ll feel less of a need to pay attention to anything, you can also multitask and listen to some music or just enjoy nature.

These steady-state activities are good for people who are looking for a relaxed form of exercise, although you can also use these forms of cardio to elevate your mood. We discuss the effects of cardio on your mind below.

Is LISS an Effective Workout?

It depends!

Low-intensity cardio isn’t as effective as interval training. If you want to get the full benefits of cardio, the intensity is key.

The idea behind intensity is increasing the power or speed at which you exercise. This helps you burn more calories, and also helps you build muscle. This guide provides an excellent explanation of how intensity affects weight loss.

If you are in good shape already and looking to lose a few pounds, then sure, LISS is an effective workout. But if you want to get stronger and drop those extra pounds, you’ll need to step up your game.

In Summary…

The natural progression of muscle growth and development occurs through intensity and resistance exercises, followed by an adequate rest period in order to avoid overtraining. LISS workouts, on the other hand, fall into a category of moderate exercise that is not intended to build muscle or strength, nor does it serve as full recovery from a previous workout.

In short, LISS shouldn’t be used in place of a workout session, but rather as a means to help the body recover following a hard workout.

As you can see, that doesn’t mean that LISS exercise has to be boring. With minimal equipment, varying your form, varying your speed, and varying your attitude, you can make LISS workouts into a fun and challenging part of your fitness routine.

With almost no impact on your joints and your body, LISS is a great way to burn away some calories and overall get yourself in better shape.

Now, get up and exercise!