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HIIT vs LISS: Why You Need Both Cardio Styles

Finding the right cardiovascular activity to achieve your fitness goals is not easy. Let's start with understanding the basics of cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular fitness is how well the heart, lungs, and vessels can pump oxygen through the blood to your muscles.  In shorter terms, cardiovascular fitness is the efficiency of the circulation of blood through out the body; depending on your fitness goals and/or your body preference.

HIIT versus LISS

There are two common styles of cardiovascular training that differ significantly.  High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) attacks fat loss, whereas, Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) targets weight loss.  Fat loss precisely aims at burning fat and maintaining muscle gains. Weight loss is directed at all types of weight loss, such as, water weight, fat weight and/or muscle weight. Therefore, depending on your fitness goals, HIIT, directed to burn fat while keeping muscle, may be a better choice compared to those aiming to lose numbers off the scale using LISS for weight loss.

Best time for cardio

When is the best time for cardio?  Well, depending on your fitness goals, timing can be a determining factor.  An early morning cardio session before your first meal is common. Early cardio sessions are effective for those who want to get an early start on burning fat and speeding up the metabolism.  This is also a perfect time to add some caffeine to help regulate and facilitate the fat mobilization process. Also, another common cardio session takes place before or after your work out routine.  Cardio after your workout routine results in more fat loss efficiency.  However, cardio before working out is a great way to fatigue the muscles and start your routine.  Essentially, depending on your fitness goals, any time is a chance for a great cardio session.

Length of cardio

How long is your cardio session?  The amount of fat you want to lose before you start cutting muscle is an important factor to consider. HIIT cardio sessions for longer than twenty minutes begins to cut into lean muscle.  LISS cardio sessions of 20-30 mins is where the body begins to tap into fat stores and begins the fat oxidation process and fat mobilization process.  Generally, LISS will utilize the fat that has been oxidized and mobilized as energy when doing 45 mins of cardio.  Anything over 60 mins will begin to cut into lean muscle.  Depending on your body, the amount of time spent on cardio will be determined by your body’s results. 

Now what type of cardio works for you?  What is your goal, fat loss or weight loss?  When is best for you; Morning, pre or post workout or evening sessions?  How long is the cardio session?  After determining these questions you can choose from what type of cardio may work best for you!

Compare athletes in different sports as a guide for yourself!

Common forms of cardiovascular fitness: 

HIIT - Basketball, jump roping, sprints, swimming, etc..

- Football players, Swimmers, and Track runners are "yoked" with short spurts of sprints where there is short amounts of cardiovascular activity.

LISS - Running, jogging elliptical, bike, etc..

-Soccer players, and long distance runners are much leaner where there is longer amount of cardiovascular activity.


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