Fitness, like everything else in the world, tends to run on trends. One moment everybody’s doing barre workouts, then the new thing is indoor cycling, then it’s underwater wrestling or whatever we’ve moved onto next. In that spirit, you may have started seeing fitness blogs refer to something called LISS. You may not be influenced by what’s in or what’s out, but you still keep up with the world. So if you’re curious, here’s a beginner’s guide to LISS.
First of all, it stands for Low-Intensity Steady State. If you’ve been doing HIIT workouts like Tabata, you can already tell the difference, since the “HI” in HIIT stands for “High Intensity.” If you don’t gotta Tabata, then a brief summary: HIIT workouts have you pushing yourself as hard as you can go for mercifully short workouts. They can really blast calories and get you in shape, plus they don’t take much time. It’s also the closest I’ve ever felt to death.
As a contrast, LISS workouts have you working at a much lower intensity—about half the intensity of a HIIT workout–for an extended period of time. You’ll be working out for at least 45 minutes, compared to the 4-minute burst and recovery period of a Tabata set. It’s much easier on your joints and can help ease you in to upping your intensity level. On the downside, it takes a while, so you must have enough free time to fit in a workout. In addition, once you’ve gotten used to the workout, you’ll need to add on more time for it to be effective. It also doesn’t do anything special for your muscles or help burn calories after the workout’s over, like HIIT can do.
So should you try LISS? For those of you who are new to exercise, it’s a good idea. It’s an easy and unintimidating way to get used to working out. So you can do activities that are accessible to many people, like a brisk walk until you get used to the idea of something like a workout class or working with a trainer.
However, if you’re already experienced, it’s probably not the best choice for you. It’s up to you, of course, but you’re more likely to get the best workout working at a higher intensity.