Cardio is not everyone’s idea of exercising fun. Most cardiovascular exercises are strenuous on the joints and often leave you out of breath. If you hate the panting exertion of High-Intensity Interval Training, there’s a better way to do it: Low-Intensity Steady State, or LISS.
What Is LISS?
LISS is also known as steady state training (SST) or long slow distance (LSD) training.
LISS consists of aerobic exercises of low-to-moderate intensity done for an extended period. The practice must be focused, so walking your dog for 30 minutes does not count.
LISS is also about building your aerobic endurance and overall body conditioning instead of putting in an all-out “go-big-or-go-home” burst of effort.
Here are some examples of LISS-style training:
- Using the treadmill, elliptical or spin machine at 5-6kmph (or less) for about 30 minutes.
- Swimming at the same time for about 45-60 minutes.
- Brisk walking
LISS vs. HIIT
LISS is the polar opposite of HIIT. While HIIT exercises are shorter and performed at 80-90% of maximum heart rate, with LISS, the goal is to keep your heart rate around 50 to 65 percent of your maximum.
Although LISS may take longer to bring the same results as HIIT, it is not inferior. They merely serve different purposes. HIIT is suitable for people who are short on time and have the stamina to put in 10-15 minutes of high-powered training. LISS is longer per session and is favorable for those looking for a low-impact form of exercise.
The two forms of exercise are comparably equal in effectiveness. LISS may even be more effective than HIIT, burning about 50% more fat.
However, the best way to train in any case is to incorporate a wide variety of styles and this includes both HIIT and LISS. Alternating both styles helps to avoid hitting a plateau with the transformation in your body.
- Steady-state training improves your body’s ability to use fat as fuel. Studies also show that continuous aerobic exercise is more effective than HIIT at improving fat distribution.
- It is appropriate for exercisers at all levels. While its ease and gentleness on the body make it suitable for beginners, it is also beneficial for intermediate to advanced exercisers who can use it as part of endurance training.
- Because you’re putting less stress on your heart and body, it is generally easier to recover more quickly from LISS.
Who Is It For?
LISS can benefit almost any exerciser, but it’s great for people who have joint issues or haven’t exercised in a long time. It’s also advisable for new mothers returning to exercise after giving birth.
How to Incorporate LISS Into a Daily Routine
If you’ve ever exercised using the SWEAT app with trainer Kayla Itsines, you’ll notice that her top-rated training program alternates both — leading to excellent results. You can use LISS as a recovery session the day after a difficult high-intensity workout.
Before you decide to switch or even incorporate LISS in your exercise routine, though, there are a few things to consider.
- Each session should ideally be around 30-60 minutes at the minimum.
- Make sure you are warmed up and adequately hydrated before beginning the workout and that you stretch after the session.
- Try to monitor your heart rate and find a way to ensure your speed is consistent. This is why LISS is best achieved on an exercise machine like a treadmill.
- Have a session at least three times per week.