What is low intensity training?
Low intensity steady state, or LISS for short, is a form of aerobic cardio done at a lower heart rate over a longer period. Typically performed anywhere between 20-60 minutes with the speed/intensity staying pretty constant throughout. With it being low intensity, your heart rate would usually only be around 40-60% of maximum output. A rough way of calculating your maximum heart rate is 220 minus age. Once you have a rough guide to your HRmax you can then calculate the HRzone you need to stay within by multiplying HRmax by 0.4 to get 40% of HRmax and by 0.6 to get 60%. So when you have those two figures, you can ensure your heart rate stays within the upper and lower limits.
The opposite of this is HIIT and this stands for high intensity interval training, this typically consists of much faster, more demanding outputs of effort shorter in duration, such as bursts in the area of 10-60 seconds or longer. Alternated with rest or lighter activity work, this type of training will see your heart rate reach anywhere from 70-90% of maximum heart rate. Unlike LISS, HIIT is a form of anaerobic training and therefore uses more oxygen than can be supplied. This is why you run out of breath much faster and you will feel the ‘burn’.
With this in mind, see below for some examples of why LISS may at times be the better option for sustainability over HIIT.
Less demand on your body
When performing any type of LISS training you are working at a much lower intensity than other training methods/styles. This essentially means that the demand on your body overall is much lower than it otherwise would be. Your joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles will take less of a ‘beating’ and this can be carried out much more frequently than doing HIIT.
Little to no recovery between efforts
Due to the low-impact nature of LISS, your body will be better equipped to recover better between sessions and may at times not even need any recovery at all depending on the type of LISS carried out. A good example is walking at a steady state or a light session on a bike/elliptical at the gym. These types of sessions/activities could likely be carried out almost daily and you would feel little to no fatigue.
Less risk of injury
Due to moving at a steady pace and the intensity of the session being low, you will considerably reduce your overall risk of injury. This is due to moving at a much more controlled rate and not performing movements with load or moving erratically/fast with weight. As your body is not working too hard, you will find that it is rare to pick up any injuries unless you are already experiencing some type of soreness or lack of recovery from other training sessions and then overdoing it by training too often.
Your best bet at sustainable fat loss
One of the better benefits of LISS depending on your goal of course, is how effective it is for weight loss and burning fat. This is because you will use your body's fat reserves as the primary source of energy as opposed to glycogen when weight training or performing a HIIT workout. This is often why LISS is always suggested or incorporated into a training regime when fat loss is a goal as it is so effective and easy which leads into my final point!
It is EASY!
Lets face it, not everyone loves training or at least when they first start, that is why LISS is likely going to be your best friend. It is easy to do and requires little to no effort, you can carry it out in the gym or out of the gym, meaning you can make it work for you around your lifestyle. Alongside training, a proper nutrition plan and the right methods you will start to see some pretty good results in fitness, mood and physique! If you are not already doing LISS, this is your sign to start now. Still wondering what forms of LISS you can do? As Personal Trainers we don't often do LISS in the 121 PT sessions but we definitely recommend doing LISS outside of your Personal Training sessions! Basically, it is any type of cardio activity that you can perform at a slow, steady and sustainable pace, but for options please see below for clarity:
Bike - Gentle speed, flat surface, low intensity anywhere from 20-60 minutes, outside on a bike or in a gym on a seated machine.
Rowing Machine - NOT easy but opt for slow controlled strokes at a manageable pace for up to 30 minutes.
Swimming - Breaststroke, slow movements and controlled breathing.
Jog - Steady pace, nothing hard, 40-50% max speed either on a flat surface outside or a treadmill with 0 incline.
Walk - Slow pace, can be carried out for an hour plus with little recovery required. Grab a coffee, earphones in and enjoy!
Now, this is not to say that HIIT is not effective because it certainly is and has its place in all workout routines. However, for longevity and sustainability, LISS will be better to carry out more often and it is effective when it comes to fat loss. If you want any more information on this, please do not hesitate to ask on the gym floor!