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Pros And Cons Of LISS Cardio


Is LISS cardio the most effective form of cardio for you?

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing the pros and cons of LISS cardio, and why you should NOT be doing LISS cardio, if these two factors apply to you.

This is the second video in my new video series on the “Truth About Cardio”.

Here’s the previous episode on the pros and cons of HIIT cardio.

Subscribe to our Live Lean TV YouTube channel, so you don’t miss an episode in this series.


So lets dive into if LISS cardio, also known as low intensity steady state cardio, is the best form of cardio for you.

I’ll also share how to do a LISS cardio workout, and address the myth about staying in the “fat burning zone”.

Pros And Cons Of LISS Cardio Live Lean TV

How to do LISS cardio

You can complete LISS cardio on any cardio machine, or for some people, a brisk walk or jog outside.

A goal of LISS cardio is to maintain a heart rate of 65-75% of your maximum heart rate (MHR), for 45-60 minutes.

Side note: when it comes to Living Lean, anything over 60 minutes is excessive, and may possibly lead to muscle breakdown.

One way to break up the monotony of 60 minutes of LISS cardio is by splitting it up into 20 minute sets: 

If you’re confused over your max heart rate, here’s a post on how to calculate your heart rate training zones.

If you don’t have a chest strap heart rate monitor, here’s a hack for you.

At 65-75% of your max heart rate, you should still be able to carry on a casual conversation, without struggling to catch your breath.

The fat burning zone myth

Staying within 65-75% of your MHR, is often called the “fat burning zone”.

The fat burning zone relates to the idea that stored body fat, is the body’s primary fuel source when at rest, and when you haven’t just eaten.

When you start moving more, and the need for energy is greater, the body increases the percentage of calories being burned from carbohydrates.

So when you’re moving slower, the body breaks down a greater percentage of calories from stored body fat to be used for energy, rather than carbohydrates.

When your heart rate goes above this fat burning zone, for example with HIIT cardio, the body can begin to look for a more immediate source of energy, typically from carbohydrates.

Based on this info, it sounds like LISS cardio would be the best form of cardio for fat burning, right?

Not so fast.

Just because LISS burns a higher percentage of fat for energy, it doesn’t mean it burns more total fat.

Pros And Cons Of LISS Cardio Live Lean TV

LISS cardio: fat burning zone example:

If you burn 300 calories from walking on the treadmill for 45 minutes:

  • Approximately 60% of those calories, roughly 180 calories, are burned from fat.
  • The remaining 40% of calories, roughly 120 calories, are burned from carbohydrates.
Pros And Cons Of LISS Cardio Live Lean TV

HIIT cardio: fat burning example:

If you burn 600 total calories during a HIIT workout:

  • 40% of those calories, 240 calories, are burned from fat.
  • The remaining 60% of calories, 360 calories, are burned from carbohydrates.

The HIIT cardio workout burns more total calories, including more calories from fat, even though a greater percentage of calories burned are from carbohydrates.

Pros and cons of LISS cardio

LISS cardio is the best form of cardio for you, if you require an easier form of cardio

But before you think you require an easier form of cardio, let me ask you 2 questions.

  1. Are you suffering from chronic injuries, like knee pain, that stop you from high impact cardio like running? My answer to this is, you can still do HIIT cardio, by using a low impact cardio machine, like the elliptical machine.
  2. Are you currently obese and brand new to any form of fitness?

This is when LISS cardio is the best form of cardio, as it can be a great way to begin initiating the fat loss process.

After 6-8 weeks of LISS cardio, you’ll begin feeling better about yourself and you’ll get more confidence.

When this happens, then you’ll be ready to start transitioning to beginner forms of HIIT cardio.

LISS cardio is NOT the best form of cardio for you, if…

1. You don’t have a lot of time

Calorie burning depends on many factors such the speed and incline of the cardio machine, and your body composition.

However, for some people, 45-60 minute LISS cardio treadmill workout may only burn 300-400 calories.

At 3500 calories in a pound of fat, a 300-400 calorie burn is only approximately 1/10th of a pound of fat.

Keeping all things equal, doing 10 hours of LISS cardio per week may only burn 1 pound of fat.

Ask yourself, do you have 10 hours a week to dedicate to your cardio workouts?

Most people don’t.

2. You get bored easily

Unless you like to read, or have a favorite TV show on, or have a cardio buddy on the cardio machine beside you, LISS cardio can be super boring.


This boredom is due to the monotony of staying at the same pace for an extended period of time.

Contrast that with HIIT cardio, where the workouts are shorter, and the intervals keep things fresh.

3. You want to spike your metabolism and burn more total calories

Unfortunately LISS cardio does not effectively increase the afterburn effect as much as HIIT cardio.

Research shows after a solid HIIT cardio workout, you can boost your metabolism and burn more total calories throughout the day.

This means you are burning more total calories even when you’re laying on the couch or sleeping.

After a LISS cardio workout, the body does not elevate calorie burning after you leave the gym.

In other words, the heightened calorie burning stops.

4. You want to maintain your lean muscle mass

If your goal is to maintain lean muscle mass, you may want to limit LISS cardio.

Excessive amounts of LISS cardio can potentially put you in a catabolic, muscle breakdown state.

This is not optimal for fat burning as lean muscle is the key metabolic driver that helps you burn more calories at rest.

Bottom line on the pros and cons of LISS cardio

If you’re currently obese and new to fitness, LISS cardio can be a good starting point.

However, after a few weeks, your body can adapt if the same stimulus is being applied over and over again.

When your body adapts, you may not be burning as many calories as you once did.

To avoid this, try switching up the machines you use for variety.

Also alternate with HIIT cardio so your body never gets used to the same cardio workout.

If the thought of HIIT cardio scares you, trust me, you don’t have to be an athlete to do HIIT.

Most people, can benefit faster from following a HIIT cardio workout program.

Depending on your fitness level, a HIIT cardio workout could simply be rotating from a fast walk to a slow walk.

If a fast walk elevates your heart rate enough, that’s HIIT.


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