High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is everywhere right now, and every time you step into a gym you’ll find plenty of people going hell for leather to jack up their heart rate and burn calories as quickly as possible.
However, HIIT is not the only way to train. And it’s not necessarily the best way to train, either, especially if you’re someone just starting out on a fitness kick. Low-intensity steady-state training, or LISS, differs greatly from HIIT in its approach but the benefits it delivers can be just as impressive.
For all the info on LISS, we spoke to Marvin Burton, head of fitness at gym chain Anytime Fitness UK.
What is LISS?
It’s a method of training or exercise and as the name suggests, your objective would be to keep your heart rate at a comfortable, yet maintainable level and to work for a longer period.
What are the benefits of it?
Lower-intensity exercise allows you to build your base fitness. This would be a foundational attribute that is highly recommended before high-intensity exercise. It is much safer and develops your ability to control your breathing, strengthens your heart and improves your overall fitness. For people who are highly stressed, this method of training may be more valuable because it could reduce stress.
We must always remember that stress presents itself in three key forms: emotional, mental and physical. So it isn’t always sensible to train hard after a mentally stressful day! You could be adding to the problem, instead of reducing or dealing with the real issue.
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How do the benefits differ from HIIT?
For a beginner or somebody returning from a long period without exercise, there wouldn’t be much difference apart from a reduced amount of delayed onset muscle soreness, which, you sometimes get with HIIT, depending on the type of exercise. As mentioned before, foundational fitness levels should always be established before even considering a HIIT workout. LISS is less demanding upon your muscles and joints. Therefore, recovery time may also be reduced – allowing you to exercise again after a shorter space of time.
What would a typical LISS workout look like?
Walk, cycle or pedal a cross-trainer at a maintainable speed and intensity for more than 20 minutes. Stretching and mobility-based exercises could also be considered for LISS.
Anytime Fitness has over 165 gyms across the UK. Visit anytimefitness.co.uk/find-gym to claim a free day pass.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.