Weighing up the pros and cons of each cardio type
Let’s face it, cardio is hardly the highlight of anyone’s fitness routine (I can’t wait for cardio day, said no-one ever). But it’s a necessary evil that’s super beneficial for your overall wellness and health, strengthening your immune system and elevating your performance in the gym, not just your heart rate.
Whether you’re an experienced lifter or a squat rack rookie, you’ll want to include some cardio in your schedule, but you don’t have to spend hours in sweat-soaked spin classes or pounding the pavement. In fact, with a good understanding of the various cardio types, you can pick the right one for you to make your cardio day as efficient and effective as possible, and maybe even enjoy it! To help you know your HIIT from your LISS, we’ve broken down each cardio style below, as well the benefits and why it might not align with your goals.
LISS: WHAT IS IT?
LISS stands for low-intensity steady-state, and is a type of cardio that involves any aerobic activity performed at a low to moderate intensity, for a continuous period. Whether it’s grinding away on the treadmill or a session on the stair climber, you’ll typically be working for over 30 minutes while keeping your heart rate between 100-130 beats per minute. That means no intervals, sprints or breaks (if you’re going at a steady pace that still allows you to have a conversation, you know you’re doing LISS).
The greatest benefit of LISS is how easy and accessible it is for all levels of lifters or athletes. Because you won’t be working as intensely as other forms of cardio, LISS workouts tend to be on the more tolerable side and less on the torturous one - while still burning calories. This means no matter your fitness level, you can hit a pretty effective LISS workout!
LISS will also build your endurance and aerobic base, allowing the stabilising muscles, tendons and ligaments in your lower body and core to adapt and improve stamina. If you’re wanting to hit cardio workouts on the daily, LISS is your best option as the lower impact on your heart and body allows for quicker recovery between sessions, making it easier to back it up the next day
Why it's not for you
While some might find it meditative, others might find the thought of grinding away on a spin bike for 60 minutes to be pretty monotonous and will probably find it to be quite mentally draining. Also, if you’re looking for bang for your calorie-burning-buck, LISS is the cardio style which will give you the smallest returns.
HIIT: WHAT IS IT?
HIIT is short for high-intensity interval training, and involves short, intense efforts followed by low-intensity recovery breaks. Like LISS, you can perform HIIT using running, cycling, stair climbing or any other form of exercise that raises your heart rate. During your efforts, you’ll generally be working at around 80 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate, and 40 to 50 percent while recovering. A typical HIIT workout will last for as little as 10 minutes and as long as 30 minutes - you can adjust your work / rest ratios based on your fitness level and goals.
There’s a good reason why HIIT is as trendy as TikTok - it burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time. One study compared the amount of calories burned from 30 minutes of HIIT, weight training, biking and running, finding that HIIT burnt 25-30% more calories than other forms of exercise! Another benefit of HIIT is the afterburn effect - where due to the increased recovery demands following a HIIT workout, you’ll continue to burn extra calories long after you’re finished your final interval, while you’re sitting on the sofa or even sleeping.
Out of the cardio types, HIIT also offers the best transfer to athletic performance, as the higher-intensity will improve your explosiveness and VO2 Max.
Why it's not for you
While HIIT might burn a ton of calories, it places much greater demand on your joints and muscles, which means you might find it harder to recover between sessions. The need for added explosiveness will also increase your risk of injury, and the more time you spend on the treatment table the less time you’ll have to train hard. Too many HIIT sessions can also lead to you becoming overworked or burnt out, leading to diminishing returns for your performance and negatively impacting your lifting.
MISS: WHAT IS IT?
MISS stands for moderate intensity steady state, and includes any cardio activity where you keep your heart rate between 140-160 beats per minute. Like LISS, you’ll perform this kind of cardio continuously for anywhere between 20 - 60 minutes without breaks, just at a higher intensity which challenges different energy systems.
MISS is a great cardio style to bridge the gap between LISS and HIIT, for those athletes & lifters who want to level up their cardio game. Because of the higher intensity, MISS will burn more calories than LISS - so if your goal is pure weight loss, then MISS could be a good option for you.
Why it's not for you
If lifting weights is your main love, then MISS cardio is the intensity that will cause the most interference with your squat rack. Too much volume can decrease the availability of protein and carbs for muscle building purposes, while being more likely to put your body in a muscle breakdown state which can interfere with your hypertrophy training.
HIIT OR MISS: OUR BEST CARDIO PIECES
Our best high performance pieces for your sweaty cardio sessions
The softest spots you’ll ever own. We’ve taken the same comfortable, flattering shapes from our iconic Animal Instincts range and given them a modern update for your cardio days. Join the evolution in this curve-contouring pair of shorts.
Discover unrestricted movement on cardio day in our NKD leggings. Made from luxurious and buttery-soft, sweat wicking fabric, these leggings feature a hidden internal pocket to store your valuables while you sweat.
STRENGTH PERFORMANCE SHORTS
Our lightest pair of shorts, created for your heaviest lifts. These training-style shorts feature an ultra-light fabric that feels like nothing, but is ready for anything. Move freely from the streets to the squat rack with the flexible elastic waistband and side split hems.
FREESTYLE SEAMLESS LONGLINE SPORTS BRA
Move your way in the Freestyle Seamless Sports Bra. Discover blissful, unrestricted movement with a seamless knit fabric that fits like a second skin, delivering unrivalled freedom and flexibility, no matter your cardio style.
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