No matter what fitness goals you have set for yourself, cardio should play a role in your overall workout regime. Whether you’re training for a competition, want to get healthier or just looking to shed a few pounds or tone up, cardio always provides a good base to work from.

If you’re new to the gym, you probably think that cardio means getting sweaty in a HIIT class – after all, everyone on Instagram is doing it, right? Cardio comes in all shapes and sizes, intensity and difficulty, and finding the best method for you is crucial to reaching your goals.

What is HIIT?

HIIT or high-intensity interval training workouts are short bursts of high effort exercises, followed by low effort rest periods. This form of cardio is designed to stimulate your metabolism and burn calories at a high rate. The calories also continue to burn once the workout is done for an added bonus. HIIT lovers vouch for the efficiency of these workouts – just 30 minutes a day is enough to see a difference!

What is LISS?

LISS, or low-intensity steady-state, on the other hand, is a longer form of cardio that focuses on consistent paced exercises and uses fat as its main source of energy. One of the main advantages of a LISS workout is that it tends to be easier on the joints and muscles and doesn’t require as much recovery time. For those who are looking for a less intense workout to start their fitness journey, LISS could be the perfect choice!

The benefits of a HIIT workout

If you’re short on time and want to lose weight fast, then HIIT is the cardio choice for you. HIIT exercises such as Versaclimber sprints and burpees are designed for quick bursts a few times a week. This form of cardio doesn’t always require equipment (although it can help) and burns more fat than LISS, which is why it is favoured by so many. Those working towards an upcoming sporting event, like tennis or boxing, may also favour HIIT classes, for its quick results and ability to drastically improve stamina and general fitness in such a short time.

It is important to note, however, as the name suggests, HIIT is a high-intensity form of exercise and demands a lot of recovery time. After a HIIT session, your body will enter what is known as an ‘afterburn’, which is a stage where it is trying to rebalance energy input and output. A beginner can usually handle one or two sessions a week, any more than that can put a lot of unnecessary stress on your body, putting you out of the game if you’re not careful. As you improve your level of fitness, you may find that you’re able to increase the frequency and train in this way more often!

The benefits of a LISS workout

For those that want to stay fit and healthy and have a bit more time on their hands, LISS is the right workout for you. LISS tends to be any longer form of cardio including, a 30 to 60-minute jog, a swim, or a long climbing session on the Versaclimber. Since the workout is low-intensity it means you can continue to go for as long as you want (or can) and train up to as many times as possible in the week.

The main aim of a LISS workout is to keep your heart rate at a steady pace, somewhere between 45-65%. If done correctly, LISS puts less (or no) stress on your body, so it is good for athletes that need to consistently train as it will keep their muscles and joints healthy, ensuring they can continue to train without injury.

In the end, the choice boils down to what goals you have set yourself and what you feel more comfortable with. If you are limited on time, then HIIT is a good solution, but if you have more time to play with, then LISS may be better. Both forms of cardio are great calorie burners and both support your fitness health. If you are new to fitness, experiment, and find what works best for your body.

If you want to find out how to reduce the chance of a sports-related injury, read our recent blog on prehabilitation.

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