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LISS vs HITT: Which Is Best For Fat Loss?

There are some questions that just seem impossible to answer….

What is the meaning of life?

How large is the Universe?

Which type of cardio is most effective for fat loss?

Whilst we may not be able to give any insight into the first two (in fact, it makes our heads hurt, just thinking about it). When it comes to answering the age old question:

which is better for fat loss, HIIT or LISS?

Well that’s something we have a little bit more expertise in.

So, are you best to attack your cardio fast and furious, or does slow and steady, win the fat loss race.

Let’s find out.

LISS Explained

Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) is a form of cardio that is performed with little to no change in your heart rate, throughout the duration of your workout. It relies on your aerobic energy system, essentially meaning you need oxygen coming in to your system throughout to perform effectively.

The goal of a LISS workout is to maintain a steady and constant level of effort for a prolonged period of time, that usually being anywhere in the region of 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on your fitness levels and the purpose of the activity.

Example

45 minute run @ 45- 60% Maximal Heart Rate

HIIT Explained

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is any cardio workout that is comprised of repeated bouts of short, maximum effort burst of activity, usually around 30-60 seconds, followed by a short period (10-30 seconds) of less intense activity or complete rest.

HIIT workouts use your anaerobic energy system, meaning your body breaks down glucose in the body without using oxygen.

The aim of a HIIT workout is to train at the greatest intensity possible, achieving a heart rate in the region of 80-90% of your maximal heart rate, before letting it drop back down to around 40-50% during the short rest period.

HIIT workouts are repeated in this fashion, usually for a time frame of around 5-30 minutes

Example:

Treadmill sprints: 10 rounds of

40 seconds max effort

20 seconds rest

LISS vs HIIT

Both HIIT and LISS training have been shown to have positive effects on fat loss.

In one study, continuous exercise (aka. LISS) was shown to be more effective and produced better fat loss results in overweight adults than HIIT.  (1)

Whereas, another found that HIIT yielded better results than less vigorous activity at reducing body fat and lowering waist to hip ratio. (2)

Since both are capable of yielding fat loss results, we need to put them through their paces a little more to see which comes out victorious.

Benefits of HIIT

One of the most common barriers to exercise is a lack of time.

With a HIIT workout that’s not such a big issue. Due to its nature of short, max effort bursts, HIIT workouts let you fire up your metabolism and burn through a tonne of calories in record time. (3)

When you incorporate weightlifting elements into your HIIT sessions, research shows greater muscle recruitment than repetitive aerobic exercise and therefore improves not only cardiovascular endurance, but also strength and flexibility. (4)

With its ability to help build muscle, HIIT can help fat loss by increasing your resting metabolic rate and in doing so increase the number of calories burned at rest.

Benefits of LISS

Being a much lower impact form of exercise, LISS training is suitable for people all fitness levels, being a great option for those new to exercise or returning from a prolonged time away from physical activity.

Because you are putting less stress on the body than you would with HIIT, it also takes less time to recover from a LISS workout, allowing for more regular workouts, which could lead to a greater overall calorie burn.

Final Verdict

So, when all is said and done, which is the best option, when fat loss is the end goal, HIIT or LISS?

Drumroll, please….

It depends.

Okay, so it’s not the answer you were hoping for, we know. But like most things in fitness, the answer is never clear cut.

Both LISS and HIIT have their benefits and you’ll always have people adamant that one is greater than the other.

Ultimately when deciding which will be better for fat loss it comes down to two questions:

Which one will you enjoy and look forward to the most?

Which one can you be consistent with long term?

Answer those two questions and you have your answer to which is the best one to help you melt away body fat.

 

References

 

  1. Keating SE, Machan EA, O’Connor HT, et al. Continuous exercise but not high intensity interval training improves fat distribution in overweight adults. J Obes. 2014;2014:834865. doi:10.1155/2014/834865
  2. Tremblay A, Després, Jean-Pierre, Leblanc C, et al. Effect of Intensity of Physical Activity on Body Fatness and Fat Distribution, The American journal of clinical nutrition.1990: 51(2):153-7
  3. Falcone PH, Tai CY, Carson LR, et al. Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men. J Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(3)
  4. Feito Y, Heinrich KM, Butcher SJ, Poston WSC. High-Intensity Functional Training (HIFT): Definition and Research Implications for Improved Fitness. Sports (Basel). 2018;6(3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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