Could Low-Intensity Cardio Be the New Secret for Staying Lean?


From swag surfing spin sessions to drill-sergeant-led boot camp classes, there are so many different ways to conquer cardio. But will the physical and mental fatigue from those punishing high-intensity interval training workouts blast fat and improve cardiovascular health the fastest? While the traditional belief was that long cardio sessions were best, new studies have proven different. The body is more complicated than we give credit, and while interval training at a high-intensity may seem more effective, it may not be safely targeting fat stores as well as LISS, a cardio-based exercise approach where less is more.

LISS stands for low-intensity steady state cardio, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Examples include jogging at a slow pace (5-6 MPH), fast walking on an incline, or riding a bike at a slower speed. According to an interview with fitness guru Kayla Itsines’ competition coach, walking burns more fat per calorie than any other cardio exercise. So what does this mean for you?

I did my research, and here are the benefits of LISS:

1. LISS burns more fat than any other cardio.

According to the Women’s Health Magazine's interview with Kayla Fitness, the body needs oxygen to metabolize (burn) fat. When you’re sprinting, trying to catch your breath, less oxygen is available to your body. During LISS training, your body isn’t as winded, so you have plenty of oxygen ready to shed away the fat. LISS targets the fat-burning zone more-so than sprinting!

2. It’s a more realistic approach to long-term fat-loss.

During LISS, you aren’t as winded, and it’s much lighter on your body. As you can imagine, high-intensity training all the time will wear down your body. For some people, especially beginners, LISS is a much easier regime to stick to. Plus, you aren’t going to be as sore! These past few years, high-intensity training has been the trend. Classes with boxing, spinning, and interval training took over the market and made people believe the more difficult a workout was, the more fat was burned. LISS is a more mindful approach to cardio, and proves to be as efficient!

3. It allows your body to recover.

According to Nick Tumminello, a veteran personal trainer, your body simply can’t "go hard" all the time. The body recovers and builds muscle during rest. LISS is assisting with just that! If you’re hitting the weights four times a week and need to get your cardio in, it’s unreasonable to expect yourself to do high-intensity sprints on your cardio days without the risk of overtraining injuries. Steady state cardio allows room for recovery while also burning fat.

I personally tried two weeks of LISS training to see what the hype was, and my results were great. I felt less sore, and I did lose a few pounds of fat. Keep in mind that I was also lifting weights four times per week and eating very healthy. While I’ve had similar results from high-intensity cardio, I can say, without a doubt, that I was less sore during the LISS routine.

While there are a lot of advocates for steady state cardio, there are many who disagree and say HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is better for fat loss. Health and fitness expert Pete McCall says HIIT actually increases your metabolism rate, allowing you to burn more calories hours after the workout. HIIT also burns more calories per minute and takes up much less time than LISS. As I said before, steady state cardio has been found to burn more fat per calorie, but HIIT burns more calories overall.

For more information on HIIT or to try a routine, check out this PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT article.

There are many tools to reach your fitness goals, it all comes down to what you enjoy. If you’re finding it hard to stick to a high-intensity routine, try to incorporate more LISS training into your routine. If you’re short on time, HIIT may be your answer. While I’ve personally found success in both, each body is different. The bottom line is: there are many ways to reach your goals!

Always consult with your physician before engaging in a new workout routine.

SWEAT REPORTER | Paytra is a musician and writer out of New York City. She moved from a small town in Michigan at age 16 to pursue her dreams, and has been making her mark in the Big Apple ever since! She is a Business Management major and double-certified personal trainer with 6 years experience, so she loves to write about all things nutrition/fitness. You can find her in the studio, at the gym, writing in her journal, or playing piano: and if all else fails, she’s hitting up her favorite coffee shop in Midtown Manhattan! site: