when it comes to cardio, there are two popular training methods: high-intensity interval training (hiit) and low-intensity steady state (liss). both offer unique benefits and suit different fitness goals. here, we’ll explore the characteristics of hiit and liss, their advantages and disadvantages, and help you determine which is best for you!
hiit: igniting the fitness fire
high-intensity interval training (hiit) alternates between intense bursts of activity and short periods of active recovery or rest. the primary goal of hiit is to elevate your heart rate to its maximum capacity during the intense intervals, allowing for more calories burned and improved cardiovascular fitness in a shorter amount of time.
advantages of hiit training
- time efficiency - hiit workouts are typically shorter in duration compared to traditional cardio workouts. with intense intervals lasting anywhere from 20 seconds to a couple minutes, followed by brief recovery periods, you can achieve a highly effective workout in as little as 15-20 minutes.
- increased caloric burn - the high-intensity intervals in hiit training create an "afterburn" effect known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (epoc). this means that even after your workout, your body continues to burn calories at an elevated rate as it recovers.
- improved cardiovascular fitness - hiit workouts challenge your cardiovascular system by pushing your heart rate to its maximum capacity. over time, this can enhance your cardiovascular endurance and improve overall fitness levels.
disadvantages of hiit training
- high impact - hiit exercises often involve explosive movements and can place significant stress on joints, tendons, and muscles. those with joint issues or certain medical conditions may need to modify exercises or choose an alternative method.
- intensity and fatigue - hiit training requires pushing yourself to your limits during intense intervals. this level of intensity can lead to faster fatigue, making it challenging for beginners to sustain the workout.
liss: the steady burn approach
low-intensity steady state (liss) training, as the name suggests, involves engaging in sustained low-impact exercises at a steady pace. unlike hiit, liss workouts focus on longer durations of continuous exercise without the high-intensity intervals.
advantages of liss training
- lower impact - liss exercises, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, are gentle on joints and muscles. this makes it a better option for those recovering from injuries or with joint-related concerns.
- improved fat utilization - during longer duration, low-intensity workouts, the body relies more on fat as a fuel source. liss training can be beneficial for those aiming to improve fat oxidation, and whose overall goal is weight loss.
- enhanced recovery - liss sessions are easier for our bodies to recover from, meaning that compared to hiit, you’ll find reducing soreness and fatigue with liss.
disadvantages of liss training
- time commitment - since liss sessions are less intense, they require more time compared to hiit sessions to achieve similar calorie-burning effects.
- lower caloric burn - liss workouts generally burn fewer calories during the exercise session itself, compared to hiit, however, liss will continue to burn calories throughout the day as the body recovers so the amount of caloric burn between the two turns out to be relatively similar.
choosing the right approach
the decision between hiit and liss ultimately depends on your preference, body, and fitness goals!
hiit lovers rave about the incredible endorphins, but since the intensity is harder on the body it’s important to make sure you’re not overtraining. we recommend limiting hiit to 2 sessions per week if you’re doing this in addition to other exercise methods! there are tons of hiit classes out there like f45 or orange theory, but you can also find amazing routines just on youtube, pinterest, or instagram.
liss can be beneficial for any individual on their fitness journey, and is a great low-impact way to get in some movement and still feel those amazing cardio endorphins. try liss by doing a 20-minute treadmill session at 10.5 speed and level 3 incline!
whether you’re introducing hiit or liss to your routine, beam’s pre-workout is the perfect addition to have you feeling pumped and on your a-game. beam offers a regular formula with caffeine or a non-stim version that’s completely caffeine and stimulant free - both formulas have ingredients to promote amazing blood flow, focus, strength, and mood! flavors like sour blue gummy or pink lemonade will help you look forward to your cardio session 🙂