Should You Do HIIT Cardio or LISS Cardio?


There’s so much controversy out there about whether you should do HIIT (sprints and intervals) or LISS cardio (walking, light jogging etc), and depending on who you listen to you’re going to be told that you should only do one or the other.

Have you ever heard of someone saying they wish they never did HIIT or LISS cardio because it negatively impacted their health? Neither have I, So let’s not stress about that and just focus on being healthy.

Why not do both?

Like I said everyone swings towards one way or another when it comes to cardio, but what I’ve found works best for most people is doing a mixture of both. Sometimes we are feeling good and want to do some HIIT training and other days you’re feeling wrecked and want to do something a bit easier and that’s when you can do your LISS training. 

There are actually benefits in doing both types of training because of the effect it has on your mitochondria. Endurance training is going to help you grow more mitochondria and HIIT training is going to make those mitochondria more functional, so in order to get the best of both worlds both LISS and HIIT training should be in your routine to get the full benefits.

Get rid of the treadmill

Usually, when we think of cardio, we think about getting on the treadmill and either doing some jogging or doing interval sprints. While there’s nothing wrong with doing this if you like it, I suggest scrapping this from your cardio routine if you want to avoid injury.

How many people do you know have injured themselves running?

That’s because most of us aren’t good at it (myself included) and there’s nothing worse than being injured especially when that prevents you from doing the things you love.

So instead of using the treadmill, I say get rid of it and try something else.

It’s time for spin class…

You know the stationary spin bikes that you see in the studios?  I used to laugh at them and think they were pointless, I thought they were silly and used to say if you want to ride a bike just go outside, but boy was I wrong.

A stationary bike is a great tool that you can use that will burn a whole bunch of calories during and after the workout (known as the EPOC effect) if you push yourself hard enough.

Another great thing about using the stationary bike is that you don’t have really have a chance of injuring yourself. You’re not really going to fall off or crash into any walls, so you’re pretty safe on that bet.

I happened to stumble into one of the classes one day after having a friend convince me to try one with him after he swore that it was one of the best things he did for cutting fat. I later learnt that spinning wasn’t only good for losing fat, it also had a whole lot of other benefits.

After doing my first session of training on a bike, my lungs were burning, my body was shaking and I was wiped out.

You won’t believe how hard you can actually push yourself on a bike until you try a class or what I recommend below.

After doing a few classes I realised that I couldn’t always attend them because of the times they were on and it mixing with my work schedule. So I decided to experiment with some HIIT and LISS training that I used to follow when I would run on the treadmill. I thought I’d give them a go with the stationary bike and see how it went.

It turns out that my health markers and energy have dramatically improved by following the HIIT and LISS workouts on the bike. It didn’t suck up a lot of my time and I had way more fun doing that rather than just following the typical cardio routines that I was used to.

Adding HIIT and LISS training on the bike to change things up and keep it fresh is what I’ve found will work best. 

Here are a few HIIT routines that will help get you started…

1 minute on 1 minute off

1 –  Warm up for 3 – 5 minutes to elevate your heart rate

2 – Cycle at an intensity of about 7 – 8 /10 for 1 minute

3 – Ride normally for one minute

4 – Cycle at an intensity of about 7 – 8/10 for 1 minute

5 – Repeat this 10 times; 1 minute on and minute off (trying to keep the intensity at about 7 – 8 out of 10 for the minute one).

6 – Cool down for 3 – 5 minutes

This should take you 30 minutes total with a 5-minute warm-up, 20 minutes of exercise and 5 minutes of cooling down

20/40 sprints (my favourite)

This is my favourite type of workout because I know I can push myself hard for 20 seconds and go all out, as opposed to trying to maintain a certain speed for 1 minute.

1 – Warm up – warm up for 2 – 3 minutes to elevate your heart rate

2 – Do an all-out sprint for 20 seconds as hard as you can (this should be a 10/10)

3 – Ride slowly for 40 seconds

4 – Repeat 8 times

5 – After 8 cycles ride slowly for 2 minutes to catch your breath

6 – Repeat the cycle for 8 times again

7 – After 8 cycles ride slowly for 2 minutes to catch your breath

8 – Repeat the cycle for 8 times again

9 – Cool down riding for 5 minutes

This will also take you about 20 – 30 minutes when you include warming up and cooling down.

20 seconds mini intervals

1 – Warm up for 2 – 3 minutes to elevate your heart rate.

2 – Cycle as hard as you can for 8 seconds.

3 – Ride slowly for 12 seconds nice and slow.

4- Repeat this for 20 minutes.

5 – Cool down cycling slowly for 5 minutes.

You should roughly get about 60 sprints in this time.

I’m not really a fan of this one but you might enjoy it…


LISS workouts are pretty simple, just like if you were on the treadmill. Pick a pace that will get your heart rate elevated enough so that it’s tough and you’re breathing hard and keep that pace for 30 – 40 minutes.

What I’ve found is that like most LISS training this is still boring so make sure you have a T.V to watch in front of you, or a podcast to listen to.

Quick Tip – I also try and avoid having any clocks around because there is nothing worse than when you keep looking at the clock and it’s only been five minutes. Try and park yourself in front of a wall or go into the cycle studio when it’s empty, put on a podcast or your music and just get in your zone.

Coffee TIP

You want to get the biggest bang for your buck right? Well, the harder you push yourself the more calories you’re going to be able to burn and that’s why I love coffee. Coffee can always help you just go that little bit further and fight fatigue. Plus the effects of caffeine have been shown to help increase your metabolism.

Get your coffee game on about 30 – 45 minutes before your workout so by the time you’re starting your workout the caffeine will be making its way into your bloodstream and you will be able to crush it.

How to put this together

At the start, the HIIT sessions are going to be brutal and I suggest you start out with only one per week until you get used to them and work your way up from there. If you do one HIIT session a week and then two LISS sessions a week, that is a great way to get started. Once you get better at your HIIT training you would want to swap one of your LISS sessions for a HIIT session.

You don’t want these sessions to affect your workouts so I would usually suggest doing them on your off days or away from your weight training – that way you have enough time to recover between sessions. If you’re training with weights 3 – 4 days a week, then the other 3 days you would do your cardio sessions to give it a nice balance so it would look like this:

Monday – Upper Body

Tuesday – Lower Body

Wednesday – HIIT

Thursday – Upper Body

Friday – LISS

Saturday – Lower Body

Sunday – LISS

I suggest you keep your HIIT sessions for the day right after your lower body session or two days before you Lower body session, that way it’s not going to affect your training and you’re not going to feel tired.

Author Bio

Tyson Brown is an Australian body transformation coach who helps people lose weight and look great. He’s a certified Personal trainer, precision nutrition health coach and was the only Australian in 2016 to be mentored under one of the top 10 gym owners in America; Alwyn Cosgrove. He’s trained T.V actors and Models such as Max Ehlrich. He has been published on various websites such as PTDC, GymJunkies, Smallbiz magazine and also is a speaker teaching companies about health and wellness.