HIIT vs LISS – which is better for fat loss?

Unless if you’re someone who truly loves running, you are probably only looking to do cardio because you either need to for your weight loss goals or you know that it is amazing for your cardiovascular health. So today I’m going to compare and give examples of each exercise so that you can figure out whether HIIT or LISS is better for your goals! HIIT and LISS are 2 of my favorite cardio methods but there are also other types of cardio such as circuits and plyometrics which I will discuss in upcoming posts, so make sure to follow to not miss out (I will be giving some full workout ideas)!

LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State):

LISS is exactly what it sounds like, it is a form of cardio that is a very low intensity and you do it for a longer period of time. LISS is also an amazing way to burn

action, activity, adults
Make LISS more fun by taking a bike ride with a friend! During LISS you can chat and lose weight at the same time 🙂

fat specifically without losing muscle. When you jog for a long time or run for a long time, your body turns to muscle for energy once it depletes your other energy stores, and therefore reducing your muscle mass. LISS, on the other hand, can actually help the body become conditioned over time to use fat as a fuel source. It is also a great way to begin cardio if you are a beginner as it is low impact and not harmful to your joints or ligaments.


LISS is done in longer periods (45min plus) and is done by choosing an activity you like (eg. walking, biking, stairs) and doing it at a pace that you can maintain for an hour. Here is the best way for me to explain the intensity you should be doing LISS at. Imagine you are walking for your LISS session, walk at the pace that you would walk at if you were late for a meeting and are in a hurry. While LISS is low intensity, it is still exercise, so keep in mind you aren’t just going for a stroll in the park!

LISS is a great lazy-girl or beginner form of working out but for optimal results should be paired with other activity, more on that below! So the takeaway for LISS is that it is a great way to lose weight (and fat!) while exerting the least amount of energy possible.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training):

Basically, HIIT is a form of interval training where you do numerous repeated maximal effort exercises with a rest period in-between. Lately, HIIT training has been getting a lot of attention because it can rev up your metabolism for up to 48 hours after your workout, is a great fat burner, and is very quick so it is easy to be fit into your schedule.Typically, HIIT sessions are around 20 min or less and can be done anywhere as you can do it with just your bodyweight. My two favorite ways of doing HIIT training is either doing treadmill sprints or circuits. I plan to make a PDF of my favorite HIIT workouts coming soon but for the moment click here for my favorite HIIT workouts. Basically, the way these workouts work is you perform an exercise at your max effort (Note: this is extremely important! For this short amount of time you have to give it your 100%) for a short amount of time eg.30 sec and then you take a small rest (eg. 30 sec) and then repeat this cycle several more times.

athlete, body, cinder track
You can tell this woman is about to go all out and give it her max effort. This is the sort of pained and determined expression you should have when doing HIIT!

During a 20 min HIIT session, you won’t actually burn as many calories as if you were to do a 60 min jog because it doesn’t last as long but HIIT is still amazing for creating a caloric deficit because of the afterburn effect it has. When you are exercising at your maximal effort, you deplete your oxygen stores. Your body then has to work overtime (sometimes even up to 24 hrs after your workout) to restore those oxygen stores and that is why you continue to burn calories even after your workout.

The Verdict:

If you are trying to maximize weight loss and therefore your calorie deficit, you ideally want to run as much as possible without overworking yourself. So while HIIT may seem like your best option because it is so quick and efficient, you can’t do it several days in a row because you will overwork yourself because of the extreme intensity (if you do it correctly) which is very bad for your overall health and weight loss goals.

So, if you are only on a cardio workout routine (not lifting and going to the gym at the same time), to maximize weight loss you can do HIIT 3x a week with LISS 3x in between the days you do HIIT (Do NOT do HIIT several days in a row) and leave one day as an active rest day or do another LISS session. Although to really maximize weight loss, I strongly suggest doing a lifting program as well. As it will add shape and tone to your body and burn more calories daily because muscles burn more calories than fat. Unfortunately, incorporating a running routine with a full lifting routine is a bit harder so I will have a whole different post up for that!

Hope you found this useful and don’t forget to comment below if you have any questions or post requests!

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