Cardio short for cardiovascular exercise is part of a two part of fitness duo. It helps to increase the efficiency of the heart and lungs system, and normally with resistance training is a recipe to a fitter and stronger body. One of the most asked questions in fitness is; “what form of cardio is best for fat loss?” HIIT or LISS? This article will look at each cardio form and their benefits.
HIIT Cardio (High Intensity Interval Training)
High Intensity Interval Training which is normally performed for 20minutes maximum at a time, at 60-95% of your heart rate. It can take the form of plyometrics (body weight performed at a high intensity; i.e jump squats, jumping jacks) or interval sprints. It is normally done with little to no rest in between and can have you burning fat hours after a workout.
All energy used in the body is known as Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and dependent on the exercise or function requirement is dependent on how it is used. In HIIT exercises, the anaerobic system is used, where muscles need to generate a lot of energy quickly. It uses carbohydrates (glycogen) stored in muscles to create energy.
HIIT also helps increase your metabolism, and does not need fat, carbohydrates or oxygen in order to happen. Recovery normally takes anywhere from 2 minutes to 2 hours.
LISS Cardio (Low Intensity Steady State)
LISS is low intensity cardio and is usually performed at a maximum of 60% of your heart rate. This means it can be done for a longer period of up to one hour. Examples of LISS exercises include an uphill walk, moderate swimming or any form of cardio done at a steady state in which you can talk with ease.
LISS Cardio uses the aerobic system which requires oxygen, glucose (carbohydrate broken down) and fat to create energy. This increases overall health as well as better blood flow and increased energy.
Recovery is normally shorter than HIIT and just needs food to replenish fuel stores.
Sooo, Which Is Best?
The truth is, both are great and needed in a good exercise regime! HIIT can be seen as exercise that stresses the body and should not be performed everyday; as it may lead to overtraining. Overtraining can have a counter effect, instead of enabling you to build muscle, it would break it down.
LISS is at a lower intensity so can be performed everyday. It is good for active recovery on days where you do not want to perform anything too strenuous and also helps maintain muscle tone. However, doing ONLY LISS will not enable the change and shock your body needs to change, get stronger or leaner.
It would be advisable for beginners to use LISS as a starting point then build up to HIIT cardio training. For the average person, two days of LISS and two days of HIIT is recommended for a good balance. All forms of cardio is more effective AFTER resistance training!
Lastly, remember, rest days are key! As much as reaching a certain goal might be on your mind, ensuring your body gets enough rest and sleep is essential. This is important for muscle growth and/ or weightloss!