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HIIT vs LISS For Weight Loss: Which is Better?

HIIT vs LISS For Weight Loss: Which is Better?

If your goal is to lose weight, cardio training is vital. Cardio exercises burn the most calories, improve your heart health and strengthen your body.

HIIT is a high-intensity interval training cardio. It involves workouts where you go through intense bouts of exercise followed by active recovery periods.

The idea behind HIIT workouts is that you burn more fat in less time.

LISS cardio is low-intensity steady-state training. It involves an aerobic activity that at a low-moderate intensity for a continuous extended period.

LISS cardio is also known as low-intensity exercise, steady-state training, continuous cardiovascular exercise and long slow distance training.

Your heart rate is at 80-95% of your maximum heart rate for the high-intensity intervals than 40-50% for the low-intensity/recovery periods in HIIT workouts.

LISS involves running, cycling, power walking, swimming and other cardio exercises that require more extended sessions of low-intensity activities.

You may ask yourself what’s better for weight loss between HIIT vs LISS. The American Council on Exercise says that LISS cardio takes longer to get results.

Both styles have their pros and cons. But it’s not confirmed what’s better than the other. A study found that there’s no benefit to doing HIIT over LISS.


HIIT vs LISS For Weight Loss: Which is Better?

When your goal is weight loss, you have to consider what HIIT vs LISS workouts do to your body.

In HIIT workouts, you work at about 80% of your heart rate while active whereas, in LISS workouts, your max heart rate to aim for is 60% to reach the fat-burning zone.

According to Women’s Health UK, HIIT cardio is better for fat loss. HIIT keeps you burning calories even at rest.

Studies show that HIIT cardio workouts have a more significant fat reduction effect on overweight people. The study further shows that the more effective fat loss from HIIT exercises is increased exercise, post-exercise fat oxidation and decreased post-exercise appetite.


In the question of HIIT vs LISS for weight loss, HIIT is a better option. But as part of your lifestyle, which is better?

LISS is a more commonly used form of cardio. It relies more on endurance and has no rest periods. LISS workouts are conducted for 30-60 minutes.

HIIT workouts are intense bursts of physical activity. Like circuit training for 20 minutes with brief rest periods between each high-impact activity.

HIIT is an excellent workout for fat loss. It also improves your cardiovascular endurance. Cardiovascular fitness is measured by maximal aerobic capacity, which refers to the body’s ability to intake, distribute and use oxygen for energy. It is known as VO2. The higher your VO2, the higher your fitness levels.

As we’ve said before, LISS exercises rely on endurance. Aerobic exercises performed at a low-intensity steady-state, ensuring oxygen is continuously supplied to the muscles.

HIIT exercises are anaerobic. The exercises are at such a high intensity that the body relies on adenosine triphosphate and glycogen stores instead of oxygen.

The only way to improve your anaerobic endurance is through exercises like HIIT. However, both HIIT and LISS workouts improve your aerobic endurance.

HIIT workouts improve aerobic fitness more effectively and in a shorter time than LISS workouts.

Studies show that it took up to eight weeks of LISS to achieve the same amount of VO2 max improvement achieved through two weeks of HIIT.

HIIT takes a lot more energy and requires more recovery time than LISS. In the question of HIIT vs LISS for weight loss, HIIT is a better option. However, if your goal is muscle growth, LISS is a better option.


-It improves performance. HIIT workouts increase your body’s stamina.

-It improves insulin sensitivity. Studies show that HIIT workouts enable your muscles to use glucose for fuel more efficiently.

-It increases calorie afterburn. HIIT workouts have higher post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The more intense your workout, the more calories you burn during rest.

-It is excellent for burning belly fat. Studies show HIIT workouts are the most effective at getting rid of belly fat.

-It improves heart health. Studies show that HIIT reduces the risk of heart disease.

-It burns more calories in a shorter time.

The cons of HIIT are:

-It requires a lot of expertise.

-Increases the risk of injury.

-It has a high risk of muscle overuse. Experts recommend limiting HIIT workouts to once or twice a week to reduce the risk of overtraining.


-LISS workouts are better for fat redistribution. Studies show that LISS workouts are more effective than HIIT workouts for fat redistribution.

-It is gentler on the body and can be done by beginners.

-Has an easier recovery period because your body is subjected to less impact.

-It is perfect training for endurance events.

The drawbacks of LISS are:

-Requires longer sessions of 45-60 minutes.

-It can be boring.

-Increases the risk of injuries from overuse.


Studies show that HIIT workouts burn calories quicker.

In particular, one study observed the number of calories burned during 30 minutes of HIIT, weight training, biking, and walking. The study found that HIIT burned 25-30% more calories than the other workouts.

Furthermore, research has also found that HIIT improves your metabolic rate hours after exercise.

More studies found that HIIT increases your metabolism after exercise more than LISS workouts.

If you do HIIT thrice a week for 20 minutes each time, studies show that you can lose up to 2kg of body fat in 12 weeks.

HIIT vs LISS examples are:


-Using a stationary bike, pedal as hard and fast as possible for 30 seconds then pedal slowly for five minutes. Do this for 15-30 minutes.

Jog for about five minutes to warm up, sprint as fast as you can for 15 seconds, then jog again for two minutes. Repeat for 10-20 minutes.

-Do jump squats as explosively as you can for about 90 seconds then walk for 90 seconds. Repeat for 10-20 minutes.


-Use your stationary bike, treadmill or elliptical at a steady pace for up to 60 minutes.

-Go for a long run, hike or walk for at least 30 minutes.

-Swim laps in your pool at the same pace for up to 30 minutes.


Studies show that if you are overweight, HIIT workouts will be most effective for fat loss for you.

In the question of HIIT vs LISS for weight loss, neither one is drastically better than the other. LISS is less demanding on your body and will give you results after a longer time than HIIT workouts.

HIIT workouts put your body under a lot of stress and deliver results after a shorter period.

You should consult your doctor to decide which would be better for you, especially if it’s your first time working out or coming back from an injury or having a chronic condition.

If you have a busier lifestyle, you may stick to HIIT workouts thrice a week. But if your schedule is more flexible, it’s best to alternate HIIT and LISS workouts in your weekly routine.

You can try a HIIT and LISS workout plan combo such as:

Day 1: 30-minute HIIT routine.

Day 2: 40-minute long-distance run or walk.

Day 3: Light activity like Pilates.

Day 4: 25-minute cardio challenge.

Day 5: 30-minute run.

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: 30-minute walk, run, swim or session on the elliptical.

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