3 Reasons You Should Try LISS
A few weeks ago we posted about HIIT – or high intensity interval training. This method of exercise takes a short amount of time and really challenges the body to perform at maximum effort many times over. What about those days when you don’t need to be in a rush, or you’re tired but still want to get in a good workout? To that we say you should try LISS!
LISS stands for low intensity steady state and is a form of cardiovascular training that has you working at 40-70% of your predicted maximum heart rate (220-age) for greater than 20 minutes. This form of exercise, like most forms of exercise, has many benefits and will be a great addition to your workout regime – and here’s why:
1. Lower intensity makes this safer than HIIT
Although HIIT is an awesome way to get the heart up and break a really good sweat, working at higher intensities puts some of us at a greater risk for injury and could potentially lead to exertion-related illnesses and conditions. For individuals with high blood pressure, angina, or other pressure and exertion related cardiovascular disease, attempting a high intensity interval workout could exacerbate your symptoms. This is why LISS is an excellent alternative. You can get all the benefits of HIIT without putting your heart at risk. In fact regular LISS workouts can improve biometrics like blood pressure and cholesterol levels by increasing the production of HDL cholesterol and therefore lowering LDL levels, all while improving the health and function of the cardiovascular system.
2. Excellent for active recovery
For all of you high-intensity junkies, LISS could be a great way to get you in the gym on those days where you really don’t feel like resting. Due to the minimum impact on the muscles, LISS can act as an active recovery tool. By increasing the heart rate gradually you are activating the aerobic, or long-duration, energy system your body. This breaks down fat cells, releasing toxins from the body. It also shuttles lots of oxygen to the muscles, which helps them to recover from previous strenuous exercise. This includes lowering lactate levels in the muscles ie. decreasing muscle soreness.
In a society that is already so driven by speed and running from one task to the next, LISS can be your multi-tasking fitness friend. Since it takes longer to achieve the health benefits using this style of training, you are required to dedicate 20 minutes to 1 hour to just one thing. In those 20 minutes to 1 hour let your body’s incredible systems take over and give your mind just one thing to focus on. While you walk/jog/cycle for this extended period of time, your body will be decreasing its inflammatory markers, it will be reducing the amount of cortisol in the blood – a hormone linked to stress – it will be breaking down fat cells and releasing toxins, blood flow and nutrients will be shuttled to the working muscles and any other organs that are in need of repair and recovery.
HIIT v.s LISS
Although we presented some amazing benefits of HIIT before, we also thought it would be important to present the other option for cardiovascular training. Both methods will improve your cardiovascular fitness but you need to decide which method works best for your life. Are you someone who has high blood pressure or another pressure and exertion related condition? Then maybe skip the HIIT for now, and focus on LISS. Are you someone who knows they need to take the time to unwind after a crazy week of work or school? Then set aside some extra time to include LISS in your weekly workout schedule to help you reduce stress levels all while improving muscular function and cardiovascular health.
As a final note – LISS is not “better” than HIIT and the same is true about HIIT not being better than LISS. As with all things to do with our health, we need to look at what is best for us as an individual. All of these different training modalities should be seen as tools in a toolbox. Some tools work better for different goals than others, but the more tools you have in your tool box means that when new challenges arise, you are well equipped to tackle them.
Give LISS a shot and let us know in the comments how it worked for you! – FFF