You already know what LISS training is. You just don’t know the fancy acronym. Well, we’re here to explain exactly what it is and exactly what it’s good for.
LISS stands for ‘Low-Intensity Steady State’ and it’s not the opposite of HIIT (that one is called LIIT). LISS is basically any activity such as walking, cycling, hiking, and swimming for a long-ish period of time. You’re going at a slow and continuous pace, usually lasting around 30-40 minutes, and your heart rate is reaching around 50-65% maximum. For example, jogging on a treadmill at around four or five (out of 10) intensity (10 being maximum effort where you’re giving it everything and breathing heavily).
If you can hold a conversation while exercising, it’s probably a form of LISS training. Which makes it the perfect workout to do with family or friends — among all kinds of other benefits.
Low endurance exercise for a longer period of time (compared to HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training) helps your heart. More specifically, the left ventricle. LISS training helps this ventricle to increase in capacity, making it more effective at pushing blood around the body. Increased blood flow = increased oxygen nourishing crucial organs and better respiratory health.
Due to the low-intensity nature of LISS, it’s also a gentle way to get motivated to exercise. Even if all you want to do is flop on your sofa all evening. In fact, if it’s catching up on your favourite TV series you fancy, you can do it on a cardio machine or treadmill. A winner in our books.
If you’re stiff and tired from training during the week, LISS training is your BFF. By increasing the blood flow to damaged muscles (as mentioned above), the steady-state of LISS training actually aids your recovery. This is particularly important if you’re doing a lot of forceful HIIT exercises regularly, you can overdo it.
Here’s the science: every time you perform a high-intensity workout, metabolic byproducts occur. These are molecules that build up in the muscles from pushing yourself to the limit, which tires your muscles and body.
Enter lovely LISS, the slow and steady training that helps flush out the byproducts way quicker than if you completely rested for a couple of days. This also means you can go even harder next time you’re in HIIT class.
As with all good things, the key to success is moderation and variety. If you only perform HIIT as your cardio, your body may actually age quicker, due to cell-signaling pathways triggered by anaerobic metabolism causing biological damage. However, if you only perform LISS as your cardio, your body may start burning stored muscle for energy, resulting in muscle and strength loss.
To achieve the best levels of functional fitness — growing stronger, faster, and healthier — you must get a better balance of movement in your life. You know your body — if you’re feeling the signs of overtraining (such as tiredness, lack of concentration, trouble sleeping), it’s time to take a break from the tough stuff and give LISS a chance.