What is LISS Cardio?

Have you ever heard of LISS cardio? I had not for a long time, but this year I have seen more and more people posting about LISS cardio. So I thought, what is that?

It turns out that LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State. It’s all about doing at least 45 minutes of low intensity cardio, 65-75% of your max effort. Yes, this is the long, steady, and sometimes boring, type of cardio that is typically hated. To perform LISS, you can walk, run (at your own comfortable pace), hop on the elliptical, or hike! It may be boring at times, which is why I like to run or walk outside for my LISS. Unfortunately, I have something going on with my ankle so I am out of running commission right now, so I walk or do the elliptical. 

It’s so easy to take yourself outside and walk for 1 hour. And it’s summer! This is the time to get outside. Fall is right around the corner — which I am PUMPED about — so now is the time to enjoy the heat before it starts creeping away. I think Summer and Fall are the best times to be outside, so I like to get out verse staying inside. It doesn’t always happen and plans can change due to weather, but it is so worth it. 

How does LISS cardio help with weight loss?

It’s important to mix up your routine. I’m a big fan of running, swimming, walking, hiking, HIIT (high intensity interval training), strength training, LISS cardio and doing other fun active things like kayaking, bike riding, and playing tennis. It’s important to mix it up so that your body doesn’t get too used to your preferred type of exercise. 

Think about it. We exercise to work our bodies, exercise certain muscles, improve our health, improve our strength, and for several other reasons, but our bodies are brilliant. They adapt. They get stronger. If you are working your body the same way over and over, your body will adapt, get stronger and that work won’t really be much work anymore. We need to change it up.

How do I do that? Easy! Mix up your favorite exercises and activities throughout the week to make up your weekly plan. Do different things on different days, change the time or the intensity (by taking it up or down) or try something completely new! If you have something you love, like running, you can change up the distance, your intensity, your course, or do intervals. There are so many ways you can do this. The options are seriously limitless. Change it up any way you can.

You don’t have to go crazy with it, but aim to do it differently 1 day a week if you typically perform the same exercise 3 times per week. So for running, if you have your course that you love and always do it the same way — maybe you just try to run your best each day (that’s what I typically do) — stick to that 2 days out of the week and do 1 “change up” run. It can be a day of speed work or a day of longer distance where you work a little harder to kick it up at the end. Make it work for you. 

How does LISS work into this? Like I said before, it’s part of mixing it up. But it’s also how our bodies perform during LISS cardio. When you get too fatigued or are working really hard, your body stops using fat for fuel and looks for other sources of immediate energy like blood sugar and muscle glycogen (think immediate sources of energy, like the ones you get from carbs and sugar). When you perform 45-60 minutes of LISS cardio, your body is mostly using fat for fuel. 

How do you control this? Target heart rate. At 120 beats per minute or less, your body will most likely be using fat as it’s main fuel source. Looking to lose fat? Then LISS is for you. Incorporate LISS cardio into your workout routine and see how your body changes. Ready? Let’s make a plan. 

The plan…

A good game plan is to workout or get significant exercise 5-6 days a week. I’m all for get up and move as much as you can, but I also believe in having a rest day. Relax and recharge.

So if you are exercising regularly 5-6 days a week and prefer to “go hard,” you can perform LISS 2-3 days a week and go harder on the other days. 3-4 hard days a week is really good. By incorporating LISS and a rest day, you are allowing your body to recover and still stay active. You are still elevating your heart rate and working your body, just not so intensely. You’re up and you’re moving — you’re doing your body good. 

Want to do more LISS or primarily LISS? No problem! You can be a LISS cardio queen or king and still transform your body. For those who prefer exercising primarily through LISS cardio (think walkers and steady runners), you can do your thing 5, 6 or 7 days a week! The great thing about LISS is that it is low intensity and should typically be less stress on your body.

Walking is the picture perfect way to perform LISS. You can walk your heart out every morning, afternoon or evening and then sprinkle in other forms of exercise throughout the week. Maybe 2 days a week you take a kickboxing or boot camp class, maybe you do yoga, pilates or do some strength training. It’s up to you. My suggestion is to do something that requires strength. Yoga and pilates are fantastic and gentle ways to improve your strength and work your muscles. Need to bump it up or tailor the workout specifically to your capabilities? Strength train in a way that works for you. You can get help from a personal trainer, watch videos online, take a class — whatever, just make sure you are doing the exercises properly so you don’t hurt yourself.

By mixing and matching your exercises and workouts and incorporating LISS to your routine, you can and will transform your body. Of course it is also best to pair your routine with healthy eating habits and to make this routine a habit. Consistency is the biggest key. Stay consistent, and you are on the road to reaching your goals.

Til next time! 🙂

Good food. Good moves. Good tips. Good for you.

xo Kim, Running on Good