Skip to main content

LISS Vs. HIIT Workouts: Which is Better for You?


It might not be everyone’s favourite, but cardio is an essential component of any regular workout routine. Whether you want to burn fat, increase your stamina, or improve your overall health, ensuring you get in a couple of cardio workouts each week is the best place to start.

When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, it’s important to understand that the body has three different energy systems: phosphagen, anaerobic, and aerobic. Knowing the difference can help you decide which type of cardio to undertake, whether it’s HIIT or LISS – either way, the first step is understanding the difference.

What is a LISS Workout?

Low-intensity steady state cardio (LISS) workouts are long, consistently paced cardiovascular sessions which work at a target heart rate of 45-65%. LISS workouts should last for 30-60 minutes.

LISS sessions can mean:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Climbing stairs (on a stepper)
  • Steady cycling

What is a HIIT Workout?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of cardio workout that combines short, intense bursts, usually lasting between 10-60 seconds, with periods of complete rest or low-intensity active recovery. Heart rate should reach 80-95% and drop back down to 40-50%.

Some favourite HIIT workouts include:

  • Mountain Climbers
  • Burpees
  • Squat jumps
  • Split jumps
  • Jackknives

What’s the difference between a LISS and a HIIT workout?

LIIS workouts are consistent – you’ll work at mid-intensity for the full session. HIIT workouts combine alternating bursts of highest intensity and periods of complete rest or active recovery. LISS and HIIT workouts have many shared benefits, and which type is the most effective for fat burning and muscle gain is hotly debated in the fitness world.

The Benefits of LISS Cardio Workouts

There are several benefits to LISS workouts – some are shared with HIIT, and a couple are unique:

  • Improves aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • It’s safe and simple at mid-intensity
  • Requires no recovery time
  • You can do it anywhere
  • It’s easy to stick with long-term
  • Burns more calories from fat than glycogen
  • Easier on joints

The results of LISS workouts have been proven, and because the sessions are safer than HIIT, there’s less chance of injury which could prevent training altogether. The lower intensity of LISS workouts also means they’re more enjoyable for many people – the consistent work is less likely to induce stress than a HIIT session, making LISS a good choice if you work out to improve mental wellbeing.

The Benefits of HIIT Cardio Workouts

HIIT sessions are favoured by many for their intense calorie burning, and because they stimulate the metabolism to burn calories at a higher rate post-workout, in a state called EPOC. Benefits of HIIT workouts include:

  • Improves aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • Encourages excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)
  • Quick exercises that don’t take much time
  • Burns a lot of calories in little time

HIIT is effective, there’s no doubt about it. If you’re looking for a short yet intense workout, a HIIT session is ideal. The high-intensity of these workouts not only burns more calories, but can improve athletic performance, and because so many HIIT exercises require no equipment, they’re easy to get into.

If you’re training towards a competition or event, HIIT is an excellent way to achieve fast results, though if you’re looking for a more comfortable workout that you can maintain for an extended period, LISS could be the way to go. Check out our free workouts page for total body HIIT workout ideas you can try at home or in the gym.

Our gyms are designed for all types of cardio so make sure you join our amazing 24 hour gyms near you or come and speak with one of our personal trainers today. Every Body Welcome!

All blog posts