HIIT vs LIIT: What’s the Difference?

Fit man doing Mountain climbers exercise at the beach - HIIT vs LIIT

Low-intensity interval training (LIIT) is cardio training that involves alternating between low-intensity exercises and high-intensity intervals. Learn more about HIIT vs LIIT comparison.

HIIT vs LIIT: What’s the Difference?

woman exercising cardio boxing workout fitness exercise aerobics - HIIT vs LIIT

This article explores:

  • the differences between HIIT and LIIT,
  • their benefits,
  • the science behind them,
  • how to perform it at home,
  • variations of each workout type and more.

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It is a type of training where you perform short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by low-intensity recovery periods.

LIIT stands for Low-Intensity Interval Training. It is a type of exercise where you perform long-duration exercises at a moderate pace.

Both types of training are effective for fat burning and improving fitness levels. However, there are pros and cons to each method.

Here’s a quick comparison between HIIT and LIIT training.

How Does HIIT Work?

When you do HIIT, you alternate between periods of higher intensity work and lower intensity recoveries. The idea behind this approach is that when you push yourself hard enough, you won’t need to exert so much energy to maintain your current level of performance. Instead, you should feel fully recovered once you’ve completed one set of high-intensity moves.

This means that you only use up a small number of glycogen stores during the first few minutes of your workout. When you start working out again, you don’t need to replenish those supplies, which allows you to continue working harder throughout the entire session.

This technique works best on treadmills, stationary bikes, rowing ergometers, elliptical trainers, etc. If you want to try HIIT outside of a gym setting, then you could always get creative. There are various ways to incorporate HIIT into your daily routine. For example, you might walk briskly around your neighborhood for 30 seconds before stopping and walking back home for 10 minutes. Or perhaps you’d prefer to run laps around your house instead of going for a jog. Either way, you’ll still reap all the benefits of HIIT!

How Does LIIT Work?

Unlike HIIT, in LIIT workouts, you spend most of your time performing the steady-state or continuous aerobic activity. This helps burn calories without taxing your body too much. You can also choose from different intensities depending on what kind of results you’re looking for.

For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, you may opt for an easier version of the same workout, while someone who wants to build muscle mass would likely go for something slightly tougher. In either case, however, you can expect similar results from both methods.

The main difference here is in terms of time spent exercising. With HIIT, you spend less time doing intense movements but have longer rest breaks than with LIIT. This makes it ideal for people looking to burn calories quickly or improve cardiovascular health.

However, since you’re not pushing yourself quite as hard, you also tend to be able to sustain these workouts over longer durations. So even though you’re spending less time performing a vigorous activity, you will probably see better results overall because you’re putting in fewer total hours of effort.

What Is the Difference Between HIIT vs LIIT?

relaxed woman lifting weights - HIIT vs LIIT

The question on everyone’s mind is, what are HIIT and LIIT, and how do they differ from one another? HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It involves alternating between periods of high-intensity exercise. This can be sprinting at near maximum speed, with low-intensity recovery periods where you jog or walk. LIIT stands for Low-Intensity Interval Training. This type of training has a much lower level of physical exertion than HIIT does. You might think that being less intense would mean it’s easier to complete – but it’s not! In fact, studies have shown that LIIT can be more challenging because your heart rate stays elevated for longer.

LIIT vs HIIT: Their Benefits

Both HIIT and LIIT work to improve cardiovascular health, reduce body fat, increase endurance and boost metabolism. But which is the best type of interval training? HIIT is more time-effective than other forms of exercise because it elevates your heart rate more quickly. In addition, HIIT has been shown to increase your VO2 max and enhance muscle strength and size.

LIIT is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. It is great for those who are time-poor or new to working out. LIIT does not provide the same level of “cardio” as HIIT. With both methods, you have to work hard for a short period of time and then recover. But with LIIT, recovery times are longer. So you can accommodate a larger number of exercises in a shorter amount of time.

LIIT vs HIIT: The Science Behind Them

To compare the science behind HIIT and LIIT, we need to look at the studies that have been done. Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario found that all forms of exercise improve heart health, reduce body fat, and build endurance, although HIIT yielded the best results.

The study compared three types of workouts. High-intensity interval training (HIIT), low-intensity interval training (LIIT), and moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), also known as steady-state cardio. Each group of participants was assigned to one of the three workout types for a total of six months. All groups performed the same amount of physical activity throughout the study. This allowed researchers to examine the effectiveness of each workout type on its own.

The results suggest that both HIIT and LIIT are effective for reducing body fat. However, the improvements were greater in the HIIT group. This means that working out at higher intensities can help build more muscle which boosts your metabolism. The participants in the high-intensity group also showed greater improvement in their VO2 max. This is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption during an exercise.

While there is disagreement as to which type of interval training is better for improving aerobic fitness, it’s clear from studies like this one that interval training has a positive effect on cardiovascular health and other important markers such as insulin sensitivity and resting blood pressure. However, HIIT seems to have an edge on the other types of interval training.

LIIT vs HIIT: How to Perform It at Home

There are many ways to perform HIIT and LIIT exercises. One method of performing LIIT is through “Active Recovery.” You alternate periods of low-intensity exercise with periods of rest or moderate activity, like walking, for recovery. You can also try high-intensity intervals on a spin bike, outdoor sprints, or by doing strength-training exercises through supersets (e.g., squats followed immediately by pushups).

Another way to perform HIIT is through cardio workouts that incorporate bodyweight movements such as plyometrics. Such are jumping exercises, running up hills, or skipping rope. For example, you could run up a hill as fast as possible, walk down it for recovery, then sprint up the hill again. Repeat this process 10 times for an effective HIIT workout. If you’re new to interval training or HIIT specifically, you can try Tabata workouts. Try 4 minutes of high-intensity work are followed by 2 minute periods of rest.

HIIT vs LIIT: All About Intensity

training with the help of a crossfit tire - HIIT vs LIIT

One major difference between HIIT and LIIT is that HIIT keeps your heart rate elevated throughout the exercise. LIIT, on the other hand, does not. For example, if your one-minute “on” interval is at full throttle on an outdoor bike ride compared to a stationary bike at the gym, that one minute will be more challenging for your heart rate. The “on” interval is where you reach 90-100% of your maximum heart rate, whereas, during the recovery period, it should drop to around 70%.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic: HIIT vs LIIT

According to an article in “The New York Times” by Gretchen Reynolds, the primary difference between long-duration cardio and HIIT/LIIT is that an exercise like running, cycling and swimming, “the body draws almost exclusively on carbohydrates [during the aerobic portion].” This process creates chemicals called lactate or hydrogen ions, leading to burning sensations in our muscles when we work out.

However, with shorter interval training such as HIIT or LIIT, our muscles begin to produce lactic acid much sooner and can therefore last longer. This means that with activities such as sprinting, “the body draws a mix of carbohydrate and fat [during the anaerobic portion].” Anaerobic means that you aren’t able to get in enough oxygen fast enough to meet energy demands.

HIIT workouts are often thought of as being more intense than LIIT. However, the intensity differs from person to person based on their fitness level, age, and health status. In general, HIIT used to be considered high-intensity when compared with other types of interval training. Yet, since the concept has become more popular over the years, many trainers are now claiming that HIIT is not as high intensity as it used to be and that people are now overestimating their fitness level.

For example, according to the American College of Sports Medicine – ACSM  HIIT may include slow pedaling on a stationary bike with brief sprints at intervals, which they describe as moderate-intensity.

LIIT vs HIIT: Other Differences Between the Two

While one major difference between LIIT and HIIT is that in LIIT, your heart rate doesn’t remain elevated throughout the entire routine. In contrast, it does during HIIT. There are many more differences between these types of workouts. For instance, you can perform LIIT for longer than you can with HIIT because of the less intense nature of LIIT.

For example, if your HIIT workout is 10 sprints on a stationary bike followed by 2 minutes of rest (repeat 8 times), you probably won’t perform this routine for more than 15-25 minutes. To get the same benefits from LIIT, you could try pedaling at a fast pace while keeping your pedal speed high and resistance low for 20-30 minutes. You can also recover more quickly between intervals with LIIT than HIIT and therefore keep the intensity up throughout the entire exercise period.

LIIT vs HIIT: Other Similarities Between the Two Types of Interval Training

While there are many differences between LIIT and HIIT, such as intensity level, the length of the workout, and other factors, there are also several similarities between these types of interval training. For example, both forms of interval training allow you to perform high-intensity work.

LIIT vs HIIT: What’s Right for You?

HIIT Workout on the Beach2 - HIIT vs LIIT

While both LIIT and HIIT can effectively improve your aerobic fitness, they have different advantages depending on what you hope to achieve from your workouts. For example, if fat loss is one of your goals, HIIT may provide better results because it has been shown to burn more overall calories than LIIT.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a routine that’s easier for your body to build up over time, LIIT will likely benefit you. LIIT is also good for people who are sick, injured, or pregnant.

The bottom line is that while HIIT workouts may deliver better fitness benefits in less time, this doesn’t mean that LIIT workouts are useless. If your goal is to improve your overall health and wellness or your doctor has advised you not to do high-intensity training, it should be obvious which one would suit you best.

LIIT vs HIIT: Which One Should You Choose?

Both interval workouts have their own distinctions but should still be used wisely. For example, HIIT lovers should avoid doing these workouts right before bedtime because they require much energy and interfere with sleep quality. However, for people with an injury who cannot perform HIIT, then LIIT may still be a good option. In the end, it’s all about finding what works best for you based on your goals and health status.

In general, both types of interval training have their own benefits if performed properly. The most important thing is to make sure you try them out while staying safe and getting the most from your workouts! 

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