LISS vs. HIIT Training Sessions – Can both lead to Weight Loss?

Although exercise can provide many health benefits, many people look at it as a simple way to help them lose weight. However, intense exercise may seem daunting to populations who are new to exercise or recovering from injury. Therefore, the question arises of whether it is possible to lose weight with low intensity exercise. In this news article, published by The Telegraph, they take a look into each form of exercise and how they effect weight loss.

The author, Lucy Waterlow, claims how “the HIIT philosophy has been behind every new exercise class, bestselling book and rising YouTube fitness star” The fitness acronym stands for High Intensity Interval Training and typically requires you to keep your heart rate at at least 85% of its maximum capacity throughout the workout. However, for people with injuries of any kind this method of exercise is a bit more difficult. Therefore, LISS has been heavily emphasized as of late as being the new and improved way to keep your weight under control and putting less of a strain on your body. LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State and requires you to keep your heart rate between 60-80% of its maximum capacity.

The article references a recent study by the University of Bath, which found that “LISS can be just as effective as HIIT when it comes to weight loss”. Theses results came from a study in which they asked people of a similar age to exercise five times a week at either high or moderate intensities. Their results showed that after a three-week period, both groups had lost the same amount of weight. Dr Jean-Philippe Walhin, a human physiology research fellow who carried out the study, quotes ‘What really matters is how many calories were used up by exercising in total.’

The articles continues with an additional argument claiming that LISS may motivate people to work out more since it isn’t as stressful on your body. This way, you are able to increase your physiological health and motivation at the same time without the high risk of injury that may occur with High Intensity Interval Training. In conclusion, the article highlights the benefit of LISS workouts and how they are comparable to HIIT workouts in weight loss.

I believe this is a relevant article to the Engineering Exercise course as it looks at two different, popular types of training and how they affect weight loss. Although “the best way to lose weight” will always be a hot topic, I think it is important to recognize that different exercises are better for different people based off of their medical history.For example, the idea of going to the gym for a cross fit class may scare someone who is obese out of working out at all. But, the idea of 45-minute brisk walk may appeal to them more and benefit them physiologically rather than not working out at all. It becomes a cross between physical therapy, where exercises are designed for the individual, and research, where the latest and greatest ideas for weight loss are tested.

In my opinion, I thought this article was interesting in its approach to the general public but was lacking in the hardcore data. However, I felt this is expected in a “Lifestyle” piece and found it interesting to see how referencing studies and quoting doctors may be enough to convince the general public about health and fitness, regardless of whether hard data was presented. When I looked into the argument of LISS vs. HIIT workouts further, I found a source that provided more detailed information to prove their points and support their argument. In Martinez’s “Cardio for Fat Loss“, he focuses on the pros and cons of each kind of training and how they benefit you in weight loss. I found this to be more beneficial than the original article as it stated straight facts about both, and let the reader decide which is better for their situation. The underlying conclusion was that “HIIT is quicker, proves to be more effective for fat loss, creates metabolic changes, and helps with muscle retention but not everybody can do HIIT. LISS is safer, but takes twice as long to accomplish similar things and it still has its place for fat loss in moderate amounts, from a pure calorie burning standpoint (meaning only to burn calories & not make changes to your metabolism)”. This was helpful in looking at weight loss from a metabolism standpoint, rather than just pure fat loss. In conclusion, it is beneficial to know that despite differences, both HIIT and LISS workouts can lead to some form of weight loss.


Reccomended for Further Reading:

Lucy Waterlow, “Ditch those heart-thumping HITT sessions: low intensity exercise is the best way to work out” February 23, 2017. Available from:

Chris Martinez, “Cardio for Fat Loss: High Intensity Interval Training Cardio vs. Low Intensity Steady State Cardio”. February 15, 2017. Available from:

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2 thoughts on “LISS vs. HIIT Training Sessions – Can both lead to Weight Loss?

  1. You raise a good point that HIIT can be intense (as the name implies), particularly for individuals who aren’t yet accustomed to training. Thanks for teaching me about the acronym “LISS.” What kind of metabolic benefits does HIIT display over LISS?

  2. The source I referenced ( Cardio for Fat Loss) highlights how your body’s metabolism can adjust to LISS easily. After the initial weight drop, your body “levels out” per say and that new weight becomes the normal. Therefore, you are only burning calories during the time of exercise. However, the article highlights how HIIT increases your mitochondrial capacity claiming that the more mitochondria you have the greater oxidative capacity you will have for fat loss. So, by increasing the mitochondria activity through HIIT workouts you are creating a mitochondria-dense muscle environment in your body to burn fat outside of just the time that exercise is performed.

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