There is a huge amount of debate out there with regards to which type of cardio is best for fat loss: Low Intensity Steady State cardio (LISS) versus High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). So which one should you choose? Let’s discuss them both in more detail first.
So what is LISS?
For decades now, we’ve been led to believe that endless bouts of low, to moderate, intensity cardio is the most effective way to burn unwanted body fat. Without going heavily into the scientific detail, endless cardio can in fact be counter-productive to this aim. Firstly, when you undertake long durations of steady state cardio, your body will adapt to conserve energy. Your body’s metabolism will actually slow down and coupled with a calorie deficit diet, this can greatly hinder your ability to burn fat.
Endless hours of LISS will also give rise to higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone) that is linked with the accumulation of more body fat. This isn’t to say that LISS should be avoided completely as it can be useful when implemented correctly.
LISS should be performed at a low-level, working at roughly 50-60% of your maximum heart rate. An example of LISS would be walking at an incline on a treadmill or use of the X trainer. Jogging is not deemed as LISS.
So what is High Intensity Interval Training – HIIT
Developed as a training modality initially for athletes, HIIT has recently been proven to be a far more effective cardio method for burning body fat and improving metabolic function. Research tells us that HIIT produces a much higher percentage of fat oxidation and it also blunts fat production. Additionally, it spares muscle mass and increases your EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) also known as the ‘afterburn effect.’ The higher the intensity of the exercise, the greater the afterburn affect is and the more calories your body will burn to get you back to your normal homeostatic state.
HIIT workouts are also shorter, but they must be performed at maximum capacity. A true HIIT session should last no longer than 5-10 minutes and the exercise you select should last no longer than 15-30 seconds with sufficient recovery time to repeat the exercise with the same amount of maximum intensity.
Still confused by which one to use?
Personally I wouldn’t choose one or the other; instead my advice would be to combine them both into one session. HIIT will mobilise fat for energy whilst LISS will actually utilise it. Dual Cardio.
So try this next time it’s cardio day and let me know how you get on. You can thank me later!
Step 1 = 3 min of LISS on a treadmill working at 50-60% max effort
Step 2 = stop the treadmill and perform 1 dead tread at 60% intensity for 15 seconds, rest 45 seconds and repeat another dead tread at 80% intensity.
Step 3 = at this point you should be fully warmed up. Now it’s HIIT time, 5 x 15 sec dead treads at 100% maximum all out effort and rest for 45 seconds between sets.
Step 4 = once completed move back into the LISS phase for a further 20 mins. Personally I recommend hill walking, this will last a total working time of 30 mins and will be much more effective when it comes to real fat loss.
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