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HIIT or LISS for Fat Loss?

Ask a personal trainer. Why do HIIT (high intensity interval training) promoters continually make false claims? They say things like, “walking is ineffective,” or “HIIT burns 9-times more fat.” None of this is true, so why do they say it?

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Those that promote these findings don’t take the bigger picture into account, when it comes to fat loss. It takes a multi faceted plan, not just “one way at all cost,” to burn fat, get ripped, and lean. Both HIIT and LISS (low intensity steady state, which is walking) are great tools to have in every training plan, when used properly. They can be used at various times during training, according to your goals, such as during different training times leading up to a show for a bodybuilder. LISS should be done with no incline at first(work your way up), at a comfortable pace, for fat loss, so that you don’t burn muscle. I rely on my own experience, and first hand knowledge as a trainer, and what I have learned through trial and error, and what has made the best sense to me, over the years. When new studies do come out, I do read them, because I want to continually gain as much knowledge as l can about health and fitness. I am always looking to try new ideas, but always within the realm of what Iknow already works, what’s proven through my success with clients. I have had great success using both LISS and HIIT, but I’ve used them at different times, either during different training seasons, or based on my clients goals. Is their room for both in a training plan? Absolutely! Both used properly, could mean the difference in leanness that can help a bodybuilder or you, lose that last bit of fat, or gain and hold onto that much needed muscle mass. So, how can they both be used for success?
Here are the LISS and HIIT rules for the greatest effectiveness:

1) Do LISS for 30-40 minutes, early in the morning on an empty stomach, for the greatest benefit of fat loss. The number of early morning sessions, will be determined by your needs. LISS can be done on weight lifting days.

2) Do LISS after each weight training session, for more added fat burning results. By following up a weight session with a 20-30 minutes of LISS, you’ll get another chance to burn fat, and by keeping the intensity low, you won’t burn up the muscle you’ve just worked so hard to build. Remember, your goal is to build muscle, and do whatever it takes to hold onto that lean body mass.

3) Never do HIIT on your weight training days, or before, or after leg days. If you do HIIT on lifting days, you end up cutting into your muscle gains in order to fuel the activity. Keep away for HIIT anywhere near your leg training days, so you can give legs the full effort, and get the proper recovery time needed to repair and build your leg muscles.

4) HIIT can be a great asset to building muscle mass. I use it as a break, and change of pace during a training plan, or when a client doesn’t have the time to complete their weight session. Imay do a few HIIT sessions a few times a week, or in a day, which leads us to the importance of amino acids.

5) Treat HIIT as you would a lifting session, so take your amino acids, so you hold onto your muscle mass.

6) Do not do HIIT on an empty stomach. Remember, you are using HIIT to burn fat, but also to build and hold onto muscle. You want to do HIIT for good reasons, so you must treat it as you would as with lifting, so make sure you eat 3 meals before the session. Do your HIIT at the same time you would go to the gym too train, same meals, and same amino acids.

7) HIIT should not be overdone. Their are easier ways to burn fat and hold onto muscle, such as LISS, and weight training combined.

8) Do short HIIT bursts/sessions. Mine usually last a total of 40 minutes:

1 minute warm up walking
2 minutes warm-up jog
Then 35×15 second intervals, with 45 seconds of a walk or jog (l prefer to jog)
1 minute jog cool down
1 minute walk cool down

9) I also like to use HIIT in a conditioning plan, for both clients, and for myself when l feel l need lt.

However you decide to implement HIIT or LISS into your plan, remember that the studies are important, we need them, no matter if we feel that their theory is presented all wrong. Their is always going to be debate over this, but through my experience, LISS is better for burning fat, because you can hold onto muscle more effectively then doing HIIT. The most important thing is that you follow what rules are known, to hold onto muscle, so no matter what you decide, they both can be used in making your training successful.

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  1. Good article. I have been hearing this debate for a while. I hope that a true, scientific study can finally resolve this debate. It seems that it wouldn’t be that hard if they could follow 100 subjects over 8 weeks, with some doing LISS and others doing HIIT.

  2. The study has all ready been done and shows HIIT as being a far more effective workout in comparison to LISS for fat loss goals, especially when bulking. All i will say is look at marathon runners and sprinters ;)

    http://evidencebasedfitness.blogspot.com/2007/03/hiit-vs-steady-state-who-will-win.html

    I would recommend 3x, 20 min hiit sessions weekly (30s/30s). Mixed with and in between 3 heavy lifting sessions and 1 or 2, 45-60 minute liss session if you wanna get ripped!

    Remember DIET is the key to success though and any regime with ultimately fail if you are not eating properly.

  3. “Do LISS for 30-40 minutes, early in the morning on an empty stomach, for the greatest benefit of fat loss.”

    It’s been proven that doing any exercise in a fasted state is very bad for your health, and that a 500 calorie deficit for example, is a 500 calorie deficit, no matter what way you reach that conclusion. It might burn a larger percentage of what when exercising at a fasted state, but the body will generally use more glycogen stores later during the day when rested to compensate.

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