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HIIT vs LISS: The intensity showdown

HIIT vs LISS: The intensity showdown

A straight shootout between exercise routines that represent two schools of thought: high intensity interval training vs low intensity steady state
LISS or HIIT, which type of exercise helps in burning those calories?
HIIT vs LISS:  Which is better to burn that stubborn fat?

In the race to rid yourself of stubborn fat, you have two contenders – LISS (low intensity steady state) or the tortoise, and HIIT (high intensity interval training) or the hare. The former is slow and steady, but gets the work done, while the latter is fast and intense and this also gets the work done too. Is there a clear winner between the two? LISS vs HIIT is indeed a perplexing fitness dilemma. 

Difference between HIIT and LISS

HIIT is fast-paced and heart-pumping. It is short bursts of intense activity followed by periods of rest. It is a great way to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. It’s a workout where you go hard for a short period of time, rest, and then repeat. 

LISS is quite the opposite. 

LISS is a free form of exercise. You don’t need any specific place like a gym. You can walk, jog, run or swim,” says Goutam Dev Mohanty, Certified Nutritionist and Fitness coach, owner of Madbody Fitness studio. “It doesn’t challenge or stress you out like HIIT. Many people who do cardio prefer LISS in their daily lives.”  

LISS involves exercising at a low to moderate intensity for a longer period. It can help increase your overall daily calorie burn and can be a great stress-relieving workout. Basically, it’s a gentle workout that you can sustain for a longer duration. 

LISS or HIIT for fat loss

Both LISS and HIIT can be effective for fat loss, but which is the best? The answer depends on you.  

LISS can be a good choice for those who are just starting out with exercise or who have joint pain or injuries.  

“LISS is effective. We usually recommend LISS instead of HIIT for fat loss,” says Dr Sumiran Passey, MD, sports medicine and senior consultant at AktivHealth, New Delhi. “If you go according to exercise physiology, fat loss is more at a low heart rate. It is low heart rate training which helps with weight loss.” 

It’s also a good choice for those who enjoy low-impact, longer-duration workouts that can be sustained over time. “It is good for your recovery. And does not add stress to your daily workout routine,” says Mohanty.  

However, simply doing LISS is not enough. 

“We usually don’t recommend just LISS. We also recommend a nutrition program because they go hand in hand,” says Dr Passey. “The person is also recommended to go on a healthy metabolically stable diet, when they start LISS.” 

HIIT, on the other hand, can be a good choice for those who are short on time and want a more intense workout that can burn a lot of calories.  

“It is effective in athletes who want to lose fat, but that is a quick fix. You do lose a lot of weight but it is not metabolically healthy weight loss,” says Dr Passey.  

Mohanty explains why HIIT is good for fat loss. “Fat loss happens when you go beyond your anaerobic threshold and oxygen consumption is very high,” he says. “The best part of HIIT is the afterburn. Let’s assume that you have worked out for 20 minutes and you have done cardio for 45 minutes. In LISS once you stop the cardio your calorie burning will stop. But in HIIT, when you are going for a 15 to 20 minutes post that also boosts up metabolism, it stays for at least 24 hours.”  

However, HIIT can be more challenging and may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with injuries or certain health conditions.  

“HIIT is for fitness enthusiasts or elite athletes who want to stabilise their weight in an even zone and have high endurance requirements,” says Dr Passey. “HIIT must be done in a supervised environment where someone is there to help prevent your injuries.” 

“The smart way to lose weight would be for you to be safe and less prone to injuries and for that LISS is better,” says Mohanty.  

Ultimately, the best workout for fat loss is one that you enjoy and can sustain over a long time. Both LISS and HIIT can be effective for fat loss, so it’s up to you to choose the one that fits your individual needs and preferences. So, whether you’re a tortoise or a hare, there’s a fat-busting workout for you. 


  • LISS and HIIT are two ways to burn fat. LISS involves exercising at a low to moderate intensity for a longer period, while in HIIT you do short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest.  
  • LISS can be a good choice for those who are just starting out with exercise or who have joint pain or injuries and it improves cardiovascular health.  
  • HIIT boosts metabolism and triggers an after-burn effect which burns fat for the next 24 hours.  
  • The best way to lose fat depends on you and your needs, but the smart way to lose fat is through LISS. 

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