If LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) and HIIT cardio (High Intensity Interval Training) went up against each other in a Pros:Cons death match, who would win?

Some camps argue on behalf of LISS cardio with as much vehement hate speech as a MAGA hatter in a room full of lunatics who have the crazy idea that all lives (and rights) matter. These S.S. Soldiers refuse any concept that might defile their glory days. You know, back when fitness was great.

Others camps plaster so many HIIT positive stickers on their back windshields it’s a miracle they ever manage to reverse out of a parking spot. These HIIT Warriors aggrandize their own accomplishments and scoff at the slightest inclination that their opponents’ are even capable of forming an intellectual argument.

Wait…did I just use LISS cardio and HIIT cardio as a metaphor to bash on the two party system? You’ll never know.

Donkey and elephant fighting

Either way, like the senile Elephant and Donkey, this debate has been going on for ages. Today we’re going to get to the bottom of it, though.

HIIT: The Basics

HIIT is a form of cardio which involves intervals where you push yourself beyond your comfort zone, followed by recovery periods. The idea is to work at about a level 9 or 10 on the below perceived exertion chart for a set amount of time, then of course the recovery period.

Pros

  • Helps build endurance
  • Burns calories and fat in less time
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Burn fat even after the gym
  • Great blend of anaerobic and aerobic exercise
  • Good for those with busy schedule
  • Improves cognitive function
    • Check out this video by Thomas Delauer

Cons

  • Not for beginners
    • Because of the intensity, it can do more harm than good for anyone who’s just starting out.
  • Can tax the Central Nervous System
  • Potential risk to joint and heart health
    • High impact, high intensity
  • Harder than gurus will advertise
    • That whole “shed fat in 15 minutes or less!” is possible, but what needs to be realized is that those 15 minutes have to be absolutely grueling. You need to be able to push yourself as hard as you physically can. Not a get ripped quick magic pill.

My Favorite Aspect of HIIT

My favorite aspect of HIIT is how fantastic it is when on a time crunch.

Just this morning I got done with my morning fiction writing session at 8:30, and had to be into the office by 9:30. There’s a gym about a block from my office, and thanks to the effectiveness of HIIT, I was able to get a grueling 15 minute workout in.

guy doing HIIT cardio

Give it a try: 4 rounds of the following exercises

  • 200 meter row for time
  • 15-20 reps: Hanging Leg Raises
  • 15-20 reps: Landmine Antirotation
  • 15-20 reps: Kettlebell Overhead Lunges
  • 60 seconds light intensity stationary bike

To some people it might sound crazy that this simple (yet brutal) 15 minute workout could really make a difference in fat loss, but once you think outside the caloric box, it makes sense.

If my typical RPE while sitting at a computer is 3, then my heart rate is going to be pretty low. Likewise, when sitting all day long, metabolic rates can decline in speed. By including 15 minutes of increasing my heart rate ridiculously, and tearing up some muscle fibers, I spike my metabolism, force my body to utilize its ketones for more fat burning and so forth.

For those who are physically able to perform HIIT cardio, but don’t have ample time in their budget, HIIT cardio is a cheat code.

That being said, as is shown by the pros and cons above, HIIT isn’t for everyone. Furthermore, it’s not for anyone all the time. Just too taxing.

To help with getting enough energy, and the recovery from HIIT:

LISS Cardio: The Basics

Steady State Cardio is the practice of doing a form of aerobic exercise for an extended period of time to elevate heart rate, and burn more calories. The RPE is typically going to be about a 6 on the scale. Meaning, you should be moving but still able to hold a basic conversation. Maybe not a deeply philosophical one about nutritional dogmas.

Pros

  • It’s beginner friendly
  • Promotes recovery
  • Great endurance booster
  • Can be social
  • Boosts cognitive function
  • Time to think

Cons

  • Easy to hit plateau if not adding variety
  • Can make you skinny-fat
  • Can be boring
  • Takes time

My Experience with LISS Cardio

As a writer, I love taking 30 minute walks because it helps me clear my head and I have found that some of my best ideas/breakthroughs have come from walking.

I have also noticed that when I’m regularly implementing a few sessions of 30 minute cardio sessions, my waistline stays trimmer, without the same taxing exhaustion and stress that comes from when I’m doing a bunch of HIIT training.

old people LISS cardio

Just because you see the geriatrics doing it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work

If you’re really busy then this might not be for you, but otherwise, it is a great way to stay lean and improve your self without putting too much stress on your body.

Supplements I’d recommend pairing with Steady State Cardio to improve benefits:

LISS vs HIIT: And the Title Goes To…

Now that you have all the data, I think it’s clear who the winner of this battle is.

Or…is it?

Here’s the thing, just like in the eternal debates such as:

  • Star Wars vs. Star Trek
  • Ebooks or paperbacks
  • Christianity vs literally any other religion (or non-religion)
  • Picard or Kirk
  • IIFYM vs Keto
  • Superman vs ….pretty much any other fictional character

There’s no real right answer, because for one, we all respond differently to different stimuli. And beyond that, everything is circumstantial.

For example, if Batman were to fight Superman in a staged battle that he had time to prepare for, then of course Batman would win. And if Superman were to fight Goku, then yeah, Goku is going down.

But, if we selected any of the following fictional characters:

  • Hulk
  • Rogue
  • Jean Grey
  • The Flash
  • Spawn
  • Gohan
  • The list goes on…

and pitted them up against Superman? Well, he’d get his alien ass handed to him (yeah, come at me bro).

superman vs hulk

But I’ve gone off topic. What I’m trying to iterate, aside from that Superman isn’t the end all-be-all, is that both LISS Cardio and HIIT Cardio have their place.

If you are physically able, both should be utilized. Try integrating some HIIT into the beginning or end of your workouts on lifting days. The same can be done for Steady State Cardio but I prefer adding it in on my rest days (typically a light walk with the dog).

I hope this article helps all you kind folks get shredded.

But really, on a more important note, who would you pick to beat Superman in a fight?! Leave your answers in the comments below. Click to read more about back day workouts.

Logan Peterson

Logan Peterson is an avid writer and an unprofessional, non-competitive bodybuilder. Logan has several degrees, all of which he made up to sound more credible (for obvious reasons, Legal said he can’t list them). In truth, he simply has an insatiable curiosity. After eleven years of obsessive research, he knows too much about fitness, nutrition, and supplementation for his own good. Despite all appearances, he’s fiercely nerdy. Outside of fitness, his passions are reading and writing; his genre interests run the gamut from litrpg to satire. Due to ADHD, he’s currently working on several novels, and will likely publish all of them at once. And yes, he wrote his own bio...in third person.

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