Low-intense steady state cardio or LISS is exactly how it sounds; it's performing a light and consistent activity for a certain duration of time. Just like all cardio, it does have its benefits ranging from burning extra calories to being a great form of recovery. Now, how often you use LISS is completely up to your goals and training preferences.
Before we go into what a LISS workout could look like, we should first breakdown how it works. It’s actually pretty simple; to maintain a longer duration of work the body must tap into and break down fat stores for energy through the aerobic energy system, oxidative phosphorylation. (NOTE: This is why LISS has become known as a “fat burning” workout.) By tapping into these fat stores, the body is able to perform work for extended periods of times. To put it in even simpler terms, longer workout=more calories burned. For LISS, the duration can range anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Typically, the longer the session, the less intense it should be.
Along with tapping into fat stores, this style of training is great for recovery because of the low-impact it typically has on the joints and muscles. LISS increases blood flow to help transport nutrients, oxygen, and other muscle repairing minerals throughout the body while “flushing” toxins.
When it comes to training, you will sometimes here people talk about "Zones". This is referring to the level of intensity and percentage of your heart rate (HR) you should be working in. Depending on who you ask, there will be either 3 or 5 HR zones. We like to use 5 Zones because the ranges aren't as varied. The HR or work zones are as follows:
Zone 1 | 50-60% of Max HR
Zone 2 | 60-70% of Max HR
Zone 3 | 70-80% of Max HR
Zone 4 | 80-90% of Max HR
Zone 5 | 90-100% of Max HR
LISS should be performed between 60-65% of your MAX heart rate, so you will be mostly shooting for Zone 2 (NOTE: Everyones bodies work differently and some people can work in Zone 1 or 3 and it will still could be considered LISS). Now, you’re probably thinking “Uh ok thanks? But how the hell do I know my max heart rate?” Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you hanging. To find your Max HR just use this equation: 220-age=Max HR. Now, like all equations, this isn’t an exact number and it can vary anywhere between 5-15 BPM’s, but it gives you a good starting point. Once you know your max HR, all you do is multiply it by .65 (65%) and this will give you your HR zone. (This equation can be used to figure out any percentages or zones of HR when it comes to training).
Now that we’re passed all the boring science stuff, lets go over the pro’s and cons of LISS and HIIT:
As you can see, there are pros and cons of both types of cardio and at the end of the day it will come down to you and your goals. Remember there is a time and place for all styles of training, but it just depends on you!
Here is a sample LISS workout that you can give a try!
35-40 minute walk on treadmill at a 6-8% incline and 3-3.5 MPH.