Is HIIT Or LISS Better?

is hiit or liss better

We’re talking about cardio – specifically, is HIIT and LISS better for you?

As someone who walks a lot, I don’t really do much or any traditional cardio, but I have had plenty of experience with both.

What Are HIIT And LISS?

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is where you alternate between rest periods and really intense work periods. So you hit higher peaks and then you get a more full recovery.

A good example is when you do 20 seconds flat out effort of an exercise, and then 20 seconds recovery.

So 20:20 on repeat for X amount of time.

LISS is low-intensity steady state. And that is where you basically stick to roughly the same pace and roughly the same intensity for a set period of time.

In terms of deciding which is better, there are a few things to consider.

Which One Burns More Calories?

One of the most common questions is which one burns more calories. And I haven’t found any definitive studies that I can really say I trust. So that’s worth bearing in mind when I answer this.

But from my understanding during the workout time itself, the low-intensity option will burn more calories, specifically during the workout itself.

That’s purely because you are spending more time moving at a quicker pace.

But if you factor in the recovery time for a HIIT workout and the amount of time it’s going to take you to bring your heart rate back down to normal and your breathing back down to normal from the high intensity and high peaks of a HIIT workout, there’s probably not that big a difference.

Is HIIT Or LISS Better For Fat Loss?

In terms of which is better for fat loss, the answer is neither. Fat loss depends on your diet and nutrition. Not on your choice of exercise as such.

I got to the lowest weight I’ve ever been in my adult life without doing any cardio – I was just doing a lot of walking. So while that is purely anecdotal based on my own experience, I know it definitely can be done.

My understanding – I can’t find a study to back me up on this or what my original source was so please do bear that in mind but – my understanding is if hypothetically you burn 100 calories each from a HIIT workout and from a steady-state workout, the number of those calories that come from stored body fat in a HIIT workout is very slightly higher.

So as a hypothetical case, imagine if you burn 100 calories with HIIT, and 30 of those calories are from stored body fat, if you burn 100 calories with a steady-state workout maybe 25 of those calories will be from stored body fat.

That is hypothetical, and as I said, I cannot find the source for where I first got that information, so please do take it with a pinch of salt.

But in either case, for fat loss, your diet and your overall calorie intake and output, are what’s most important.

Is HIIT Or LISS Safer?

In terms of which is safer, it 100% depends on your body, your exercise choice and how your body’s handling it.

Generally, because you won’t be moving as quickly or in a start-stop fashion, steady-state is going to be safer for a lot of people.

Because you’re not going as quick, you’re going to probably have the better technique in most cases. So you’re going to be reducing the risk of injury.

On the flip side, steady-state cardio will normally mean more repetitive movement over a period of time, which means you’re going to be more prone to something like an overuse injury.

If you have a heart condition or other underlying medical condition, you’re more likely to be recommended steady state rather than HIIT.

To be fair, I can’t think of any medical conditions where someone would recommend HIIT rather than steady-state, but from a safety point of view, you’re much more likely – probably 99.999% of the time to be honest – you’re going to be recommended steady state rather than high intensity.

So Is HIIT Or LISS Better?

To wrap it up, both are good and both have their uses.

HIIT builds more power. You can get a better variety of exercises as well.

You can hit higher peaks, so you’re improving your threshold of fitness. And you’re also getting a great workout in a short period of time.

Steady-state cardio is a little bit more “set and forget”. You don’t have to put as much mental energy into thinking about what you’re doing. And that frees up your mind to enjoy a therapeutic effect.

That’s why people sometimes enjoy really long runs or really long bike rides.

It’s more likely to be done safely too – you’re not likely to try some crazy new exercise and hurt yourself doing it.

But bear in mind it’s likely to take a lot more time.

In terms of which is better, it depends 100% on which you enjoy, which you find more fulfilling, which you can do safely, and which you can do more consistently.

is hiit or liss better

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