Weekly Wellness: What is LISS?

Related Story

COLUMBIA — We've heard the words "high-intensity interval training" used a lot recently as the popular way to train. It's great! I teach a handful of HIIT classes every week. But it's not the ONLY way to train... enter LISS.

LISS stands for Low-Intensity Sustained State. LISS is any cardio- and aerobic-based activity that's performed at a low intensity for a prolonged period.

The history of LISS goes WAY back to the early days of the 1960's and 1970's... back before fitness technology and wearable trackers. A long, long time ago... it was originally used by bodybuilders and other aesthetic-based athletes as a way to lean out.

Why is LISS an ideal format of exercising? Here are a few reasons:

  • Active Rest and Recovery: LISS is ideal for an active rest or recovery day for those who have higher intensity workouts as a part of their everyday routine. The risk of injury is also significantly lower.
  • It's Not Intimidating: For those who are new to exercising and fitness, LISS is a great starting point. Walking on a treadmill or going for a casual swim is much less intimidating than jumping into a boot camp class.
  • The Lazy-Person Concept: With low effort, you can get great results. LISS's popularity is partially due the desire to "lose weight while exerting the least amount of effort possible."


But please keep in mind that one should not only LISS.

If you only do LISS training, your body will start to break down its own muscles as a source of fuel. You may lean out, but you'll also lose strength. You still need to maintain a proper diet. And you'll still need to perform strength training.

You know what's awesome? You can LISS daily! If you are someone who performs high-intensity interval training a few days a week, use LISS as an active recovery day, or as a way to end your HIIT workout (end with 45 - 60 minutes of walking, biking, etc.) LISS activities after your training sessions can aid in the regeneration and conditioning of muscles.

Balance the low intensity with the high intensity; the combo of HIIT and LISS is the most effective approach for anyone trying to lose fat.

So... how can YOU start LISS-ing?

  • Walk (outdoors or treadmill)
  • Bike (real or stationary)
  • Rowing machine
  • Elliptical
  • Stair machine
  • Swimming
  • Aerobic Dance class


If you are a beginner and looking to develop a cardio program, start with 15 minutes of steady cardio and shoot for a target heart rate of lower than 55 percent of your maximum heart rate. Gradually increase your steady state training to a 20 minute cardio routine, eventually going up to 30 to 90 minutes. Intermediate and advanced steady state cardio enthusiasts should aim for a heart rate level of 65 to 90 percent of their maximum heart rate. Engage in a cardio program three to five times a week for ultimate heart health.

(Source: http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-LISS-Cardio-40245125)