For this week’s blog post we’re going to look at something that’s becoming more common knowledge these days, but still bears repeating — low-intensity steady state [LISS] cardio is NOT the way to achieve *most* of your goals.
Now, if you are into that sickly, weak looking body that’s often injured, LISS cardio is absolutely going to help you get there, so please feel free to disregard the rest of this article. If you’re looking for something a little more, athletic, healthy, and strong, keep reading because I’m going to detail exactly why high-intensity interval training is for you.
WHAT IS HIIT?
For starter’s, HIIT focuses on short intervals of max intensity followed by longer and slower periods of low intensity recovery. As you’ve probably noticed in a lot of our workouts, I’ll have you guys go for short 30 second sprints followed by a 60-90 second jog. This is a very classic variety of HIIT exercise. There are of course other ways to utilize HIIT. Some of my favorites involve HIIT weight workouts, long sprints/short recoveries, and short sprints/short recoveries. They all have their own utilities and combining a variety of training methods is a great way to get an overall awesome workout.
But, to take a closer look at why I prefer HIIT over LISS, it’s important to look at the facts. Any sort of pounding on your joints is going to cause harm in the long term. Depending on your genetic propensity to withstand that damage, the time it takes to develop symptoms may vary, but rest assured symptoms will develop at some point. With LISS, you’re typically jogging along for extended periods of time. The slow and steady pounding on your ankles, knees, and hips in particular is causing stress. Over time that stress builds up and produces injury. Now, this isn’t to say HIIT doesn’t produce the same types of stress on your joints. The benefit is, HIIT allows you to workout for much less time, thus subjecting your joints to less overall stress, even if the intensity is heightened while you’re actually working out. So not only does it better protect joints from overuse, it’s going to produce the same or better caloric burn from less mindless cardio. That’s a win-win in my book.
Secondly, studies have shown that HIIT will dramatically increase caloric burn and may even improve resting metabolic rate. There’s a lot of discussion in regards to this, so it’s hard to give a blanket statement about HIIT on metabolism. That said, I’ve developed programs for years centered around HIIT, both for myself and clients. I can say from years of first hand experience, HIIT is absolutely the biggest difference between those that make the big gains and those that just kind of float around being average.
HELPS YOU FIND YOUR HIIT FIT
Last but not least, HIIT doesn’t have to be followed precisely. The main thing HIIT gets you doing is working out at 100% max intensity. The intervals are more of a guide rather than a strict requirement for success. This is partially why other workouts that have you performing rounds of exercises in a specific set of time limit are so effective; they put you up against a clock and have you working at max intensity to complete as many rounds as possible. Let this be a reminder that all of your workouts should be completed at max intensity. Going through the motions and completing your workouts may make you feel good in the short term, but over many months and years, you’re simply not going to develop the body and health you wanted. Remember, less is more.
Hopefully that shines a little light on the old HIIT vs. LISS discussion and opens your eyes to the importance of giving it your all for each and every workout.
+ Matt Paley [Founder + Trainer at Share It Fitness]