In this blog we will take a closer look at two of the most dominant forms of cardio: HIIT and LISS. What do the acronyms mean, why should you do them, and which is better for getting in shape?
What is HIIT?
HIIT is an acronym for High Intensity Interval Training. As the name implies, HIIT revolves around doing cycles of high intensity – typically around 90-95% effort or heart rate – followed by short rest periods.
Sprints (on foot or on your bike), swimming and rowing can all be excellent HIIT exercises. It can be configured in a number of different ways, with one of the more common options being four intervals of 4 minutes broken up by two minutes of active rest between. Going for shorter and more intense cycles is also possible, where 1:20 of intense effort followed by 40 seconds of rest is popular.
HIIT’s leads to short, but intense workouts that can be completed in 20 minutes or less. It will greatly increase your stamina, and the intense effort will be very demanding for your muscles. Don’t be surprised if your legs feel like jell-o for a couple of days afterwards!
What is LISS?
LISS, the acronym for Low Intensity Steady State, is opposite HIIT on the cardio spectrum, and it is a far more common way of exercising.
Less physically taxing than its above counterpart, LISS involves steady exertion over a longer period of time, usually somewhere around 40-65% of your heart rate. This is how our wonderful members commute to work, and can also be done through brisk walking, jogging and swimming.
You typically won’t have periods of rest when doing a LISS workout (though there’s nothing wrong with that), and it can last for as short as 30 minutes and as long as several hours. LISS will burn more calories than HIIT due to lasting much longer, but will be less efficient in increasing your maximal oxygen uptake.
Is HIIT or LISS the Best Way to Get in Shape?
The two are often seen as diametrically opposed training styles. In reality, the fact that they have different strengths and weaknesses means that they complement each other very will. Doing both will likely be better for you than doing just one.
During aerobic training such as LISS, the intensity is low enough that oxygen is constantly available to your muscles. HIIT and other anaerobic exercise is performed at a high enough level of intensity that the body relies on additional energy stores like ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and glycogen to fuel the body instead of just oxygen.
Doing HIIT workouts and pushing into your body’s red zone, so to speak, will increase your VO2 max, your maximal oxygen uptake. Both exercise styles will burn calories and fat, and help maintain a healthy heart and strong muscles.
In the end, the only “best” way to get in shape is to find a form of exercise that you enjoy enough that you will stick to it and continue doing it! For most people, it is irrelevant that HIIT is better at increasing your VO2 max. The most important thing you can do is choosing a form of cardio that you enjoy.
It simply doesn’t matter how optimal a workout is if you don’t do it. So go ahead and enjoy your rides and workouts, however you personally prefer doing them!
Are you cycling to work or thinking of starting? Our state of the art facilities offer more than 400 bike parking spaces utilising the latest German engineering, secure personal lockers, plenty of showers, on-site bicycle repairs and valet laundry service, all on King George Square in the heart of Brisbane CBD!
This blog is a part of our Become a Better Cyclist series. You can find the previous entries here:
- Become a Better Cyclist: Learn to Stretch, part 1
- Become a Better Cyclist: Learn to Stretch, part 2
- Become a Better Cyclist: Strengthening Exercises for Cyclists
This blog does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the cycle2city blog. Consult your GP before making changes to your exercise regimen or diet.