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While HIIT (high-intensity interval training) may have ruled as the number one fat burning workout for the past few years, there’s a new, slower-paced attitude taking over that could do wonders for both your stress levels and metabolism—especially if the go-hard or go-home mentality has never really been your vibe. Meet LISS (low-intensity steady-state) training, the cardio concept fitness bloggers like Kayla Itsines are obsessed with right now.
While the idea isn’t exactly new—it was a huge hit among bodybuilders in the 1960s and '70s, go figure—the science behind it has been blessed with fresh backing by fitness pros and influencers alike. So if you’re keen to explore the flip side of HIIT, keep scrolling for our complete guide to LISS training.
What Is LISS?
LISS is an approach to cardio training that’s basically the total opposite of HIIT. Instead of blasting your body for short bursts before collapsing on the floor in a sweaty heap, LISS cardio involves longer stretches of exercise at a slower, more steady pace. It’s about building your endurance levels and overall body conditioning, rather than all-out fat blasting. Rather than running, swimming or cycling as fast as you can go over 5km, for example, LISS happens at a consistent slower pace, spread over a longer distance or period of time. This isn’t your PB-smashing kind of session.
What Are the Benefits of LISS?
First up, it’s a great way to stay active on days when you just aren’t feeling an intense workout or are easing yourself back into a fitness regimen—the steady pace means you’ll get all your systems going, without feeling depleted afterwards. Recovery is also quicker after a LISS session, so you can do it every day without putting too much pressure on your body—an excellent way to boost your overall metabolism.
Brilliantly, you’ll also still be burning fat despite taking things relatively easy. As Kayla Itsines explains on her blog, “Training at a lower intensity means that more oxygen is available to your body. As fat needs oxygen in order to be broken down, the more oxygen you can give your body, the more fat you may burn.” Sounds like a win-win, right?
Who Should Do LISS?
The short answer: everyone. If you’re new to exercise, starting with LISS will help you slowly increase your fitness levels without risking the injuries or over-exertion that can crop up with more intense workouts. If you’re a fitness junkie or general exercise kween, you still need LISS in your life.
“Gym-goers who skip LISS are missing out on a stress buffer, fat burner, cardiovascular conditioning and an active recovery day that can help their mind, body and metabolism recover from a long week,” master trainer and National Development Specialist Alex VanHouten, tells Daily Burn.
How to LISS Properly
This is the best part: There are so many ways you can tick off LISS training. Whether you love running, walking, hiking, swimming—even rollerblading, there’s no set type of exercise that’s best for LISS. The only thing you need to ensure is that you’re getting the pace right. While the exact heart rate during a LISS session will vary for everyone depending on your fitness level, experts agree you should aim for around a six out of 10 in terms of effort (10 being your absolute maximum, giving-it-everything state). You’re aiming to maintain a cruising speed for around 30 to 40 minutes, or up to an hour if you’re feeling good. Any longer and you’ll cross over into what your body considers more strenuous exercise.
Who Uses LISS?
We do! But you’ve likely gathered that by now, and of course we’ve already mentioned fitness guru Kayla, who swears by mixing at least one LISS session a week with her famous HIIT workouts. Celebrity trainer Michael Blauner also revealed that LISS is a huge part of the regimen that gets the Victoria’s Secret Angels, including Adriana Lima, catwalk-ready. It appears to be working well for them!