Striving for super-quick results can pressure you into a painful (and pointless) HIIT cycle. Here we reveal the science that says LISS is your much-needed antidote for true progress
Everyone’s guilty of leaving it late. Whether it’s your summer holiday or new year, new you plan, life gets in the way. The ubiquitous “always on” culture has conspired to create an equally toxic trend of instant gratification. We want maximum results in the minimum time. But that is to approach health and fitness all wrong.
HIIT is a fantastic training tool and, when deployed a couple of times a week in your training schedule – whether that be a WOD class or PowerRide – it is the perfect way to burn calories and boost fitness on a tight schedule in a fun environment. But it’s not a panacea. Do this every day and you’ll over train, fatigue your body and – though you’ll be sweating with effort – it can even cause your progress to falter.
Strangely, to speed up your results, you need to slow it down in the gym. Here we drop the knowledge that proves low-intensity steady state – whether that’s on the bike, treadmill, rower or in the pool – can put you on a path to physical, mental and healthy success, no searing lungs necessary. Get in the slow lane.
You’ll Actually Lose More Weight
Ultimately, weightloss comes down to the simple equation of calories consumed versus calories burned. A 20-minute circuits workout will burn around 260 calories. An hour-long jog burns 400. Yes, intervals offer the unquantifiable EPOC effect – the afterburn through an elevated metabolism – but steady-state actually melts more calories during exercise.
A recent study found LISS can be just as effective as HIIT when it comes to weight loss. Researchers asked people of a similar age to exercise five times a week at different intensities – with half the group working out intensely and the other half, moderately.
After a three-week period, both groups had lost the same amount of weight. All without the swearing, pain and, as you’ll find out here – myriad extra benefits.
You’ll Bolster Your Mental Health
Stress is the modern malaise. Slow ‘n’ steady is your salve. Jogging or any form of aerobic exercise has, conversely, been proven to lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone in the blood – researchers therefore believe it’s a potent antidote to today’s anxiety epidemic.
You’ll Improve Your Technique
Longer, slower sessions are also excellent for honing technique – something that’s all too quick to fall by the wayside during a max-out HIIT session. Whether you’re prepping for a triathlon or a 10K, a higher training volume will help you to maintain posture, as well as develop a better foot strike or pedal rhythm – especially when combined with the expert input of a PT – letting you go for longer at a lower energy cost. Better technique means fewer injuries, too.
You’ll Speed Up Recovery From A Tough Week Of Training
LISS increases capillary density – the number of blood vessels in your muscle tissues – so that you can better deliver oxygen from your blood to your cells. Research shows that low-intensity therefore also helps you flush out the DOMS-causing metabolites of hardcore workouts. Hit the pool rather than the sofa on your rest day and you’ll be up and walking after your WOD class more quickly, basically.
And Finally, You’ll Actually Live Longer
Start playing the long game. A recent study by US scientists found that running just 30 minutes a day could be the most effective exercise to increase life expectancy. On average, runners can add nine years to their lifespan by lacing up on their lunch hour. The treadmill is waiting for you.
Now, put LISS into practice with these three cardio workouts designed to be more interesting than an aimless plod.
On The Rower
2 X 20 minutes with 2-3 minutes rest; done 21 seconds slower than your 2k split
On The Treadmill
Walk 1min @ 3mph
Jog 1min @ 5mph
Run 1min @ 7mph
Repeat x 15
In The Pool
500m at 40% effort with 30 seconds rest
500m at 50% with 30 seconds rest
500m at 70% with 30 seconds rest
500m at 80% with 30 seconds rest