(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
Every so often, the fitness world tries to reinvent the wheel by coming out with a ‘new’ craze.
HIIT classes have been the thing for the past couple of years, with heavy weight lifting also coming back into fashion – particularly for women.
But these kinds of exercise put the body under intense stress and often lead people to neglect their cardiovascular fitness.
How many of us know people who gym every day but couldn’t run for a bus?
So it’s sort of gratifying to see steady state cardio coming back into fashion.
Dubbed the ‘lazy girl workout’, Low-Intensity Sustained State cardio (LISS) involves walking, jogging, cycling and swimming for up to an hour.
And it’s just as good at strengthening cardiovascular fitness as lifting heavy weights.
Continuous cardio involves working out for a minimum of 30 minutes at around 70% of your maximum effort. If you imagine a scale with one being asleep in bed and 10 running for your life, LISS involves operating at around six to seven.
Now, that’s nothing new.
Loads of us use continuous cardio as our main form of fitness – whether that’s cycling to work, taking an hour’s powerwalk at lunchtime or spending our gym sessions watching MTV on the treadmill.
But in recent times, as weight training has become increasingly fashionable, ‘experts’ and influencers have dismissed longer, lower intensity workouts as being inefficient at burning fat and building muscle.
And while that might be true, when it comes to genuinely improving fitness, LISS has been found to be just as good as more intense workouts.
Oh, and as any medium-long distance runner will tell you, LISS is also great for mental health. Many of us take the hour to mentally digest what’s gone on in the week – it’s not simply a physical exercise, but a chance to restore mental equilibrium.
Training at a lower intensity allows for more oxygen to be made available to your body (utilising the body’s aerobic energy system), and fat needs oxygen in order to be broken down. So it’s no good exclusively working out anaerobically which is what HIIT relies on.
You’re best off sticking your LISS sessions on your rest days if you are into weight training – running around two miles to boost the heart’s endurance.
But this doesn’t mean abandoning HIIT altogether.
Cardiovascular training complements weight training. If you want to build lean muscle, interval training is great for speeding up the body’s recovery time, meaning your muscles become more fatigue resistant. Sticking a couple of sessions of steady state cardio maintains heart health and general fitness – which then helps you control blood pressure and distribution when it comes to weight training.
So there’s a place for both training methods.
TL;DR it’s time to stop abandoning your cardio sessions.