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We all know we need to exercise. We all know we need to be active. But, sometimes it can be hard. It becomes difficult to breathe, your muscles ache, and then the sweat. A lot of times when people think training they think of high-intensity workouts.
However, it does not always have to be like that. There are many other forms of training. One that is of lower intensity and still gives many of the same benefits is a workout style called LIIT.
What is LIIT?
LIIT is an acronym that stands for Low-Intensity Interval Training. This is a type of interval training that is not quite so intense. LIIT style workouts will have a more intense segment followed by a less intense segment. However, the intense segment is only intense in comparison to the rest of the workout. The workout as a whole will be mid-low range intensity as LIIT workouts aim to stay somewhere around 65% of your Maximum Heart Rate, or MHR.
This puts you at generally around 90-140 bpm (Beats Per Minute) depending on age, physical fitness level, and other things. An easy way to judge this without the need for a heart rate monitor is by using what is called the talk test.
For the talk test, you are simply seeing how easy it is to carry on a conversation while working out. For a LIIT workout, the breathing should be slightly more labored than normal, but you should still be able to hold a conversation. If it becomes to difficult to hold a conversation you have brought the intensity level up too high for a LIIT style workout.
To put it into perspective An example of a good LIIT workout would be to jog for two minutes followed by a brisk walk for five minutes and then repeat.
Who is LIIT Good For?
LIIT is good for everyone. Even the elite athlete can benefit from LIIT workouts on rest days or as active recovery. LIIT workouts are also particularly good for those who are just beginning, the elderly, and those who find it hard to stick to more intense workouts.
The lower intensity level makes LIIT a better fit for many people’s daily lives. For some people, it is also easier to stick to in the long run because the post-workout exhaustion is not as intense and the cumulative overload is reduced. For many older people, lower intensity exercise can help them stay active longer and continue to experience the benefits of exercise even after they can no longer keep up with high-intensity training.
There is also evidence (1) that suggests that low-intensity training can help older adults manage the effects of cognitive decline and memory loss. LIIT workouts can also help older adults with balance and flexibility issues and reduce the risk of injury as well (1).
Sample LIIT Workout Plans
- Jog for two minutes staying within the talk test.
- Brisk walk for five minutes.
- Repeat 3x, or four rounds for just over a 30-minute workout.
Squats and Burpees
- Three rounds of 10x Air Squats and 5x Burpees.
- Brisk walk for three minutes.
- Repeat 3x or four rounds for about a 20-minute workout.
There are also a bunch of great LIIT workout videos online too:
There are many questions that people may about LIIT training and how it works and where it stands in the world of fitness. Especially how it compares to other forms of similar training. Below are just a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding LIIT workouts.
Which burns more fat HIIT or LIIT?
HIIT and LIIT are both very good forms of interval training and both have many, many benefits. Both HIIT and LIIT have similar fat-burning benefits. It does seem that higher intensity training has better short term benefits (2), however, the equality of long term benefits remains in question. The best fat burning benefits come from combining the two.
What is the difference between LIIT and HIIT?
In a LIIT workout, the overall intensity level during the intense intervals is not as intense as in a HIIT workout. The aim of a HIIT workout is an all-out effort. In a HIIT workout you would run all out, in a LIIT workout, you would jog instead.
The intervals are also longer in a LIIT workout than they are in a HIIT workout. Especially the lower intensity or recovery intervals. In a HIIT workout, the high-intensity interval would be 30 seconds to a minute and the recovery intervals around a minute or so.
A LIIT workout, on the other hand, will have intervals of around 90 seconds to two minutes for the higher intensity interval and around three to five minutes for the lower intensity or recover interval.
What is the difference between LIIT and LISS
LISS stands for Low-Intensity Steady State. In a LISS workout, you will be going the same intensity and the same pace for the entire workout. In a way, LISS is more like endurance training. LIIT has intervals and you change intensity levels at set time marks through the workout.
Tse, Andy C Y et al. “Effect of Low-intensity Exercise on Physical and Cognitive Health in Older Adults: a Systematic Review.” Sports medicine – open vol. 1,1 (2015): 37. doi:10.1186/s40798-015-0034-8
Paoli, A., Pacelli, Q.F., Moro, T. et al. Effects of high-intensity circuit training, low-intensity circuit training and endurance training on blood pressure and lipoproteins in middle-aged overweight men. Lipids Health Dis 12, 131 (2013). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24004639