T Nation

School Me on LISS v HIIT


I've seen this term come up often on the the bb forum. Low intensity steady state cardio. I've even read Stu talk negatively about it. For the longest time I was under the impression that you want high intensity cardio for >20mins so that your body does not attack your muscles for food. Now I'm seeing LISS come up a lot more.

School me on which is better for bodybuilders.


It depends...

Here's my view on the subject and I think I posted something like this not too long ago

HIIT. Better for fat loss IF YOU CAN MAKE IT FIT IN YOUR PROGRAM. You must have some sort of carbs in your diet to fuel this however. Keto+HIIT is a no no

Low intenisty cardio. Not as good for fat loss but will fit in any plan and not effect recovery to a great degree. This is how the vast majority of bodybuilders have and will get lean.

The verdict? You decide, I do both.


I won't talk 'negatively' about it, but I will state that for overall body recomp (losing fat while maintaining muscle), I feel that higher intensity work is better. The double edge of the sword though, is that it can be very taxing, and if you get carried away (ie. 40 mins each session, 5x a week), you WILL LOSE MUSCLE. However, if you do it 2, maybe 3x a week, your overall results (and your mental state) will be better than if you killed yourself doing 1-2 hours of light cardio every single day.

The smart trainer will take advantage of key points in both methods. Once I'm full into a prep, I rely on 2x every 6 days of 20-25 mins (MAX) Interval work to keep my metabolism buzzing around the clock. If I feel that I need an extra 'slight' push, I can add in SMALL amounts of steady state work (usually very easy walking on an incline treadmill before breakfast). I do this NOT to burn calories around the clock, Not to affect my metabolic rate and affect nutrient partitioning like the higher intensity work would, but to simply burn 50, maybe 100 extra calories. It's nothing dramatic, BUT if you do this every day, at the end of the week, you've got an extra 500-700 cal deficit, which can add up as you get into the low single digit bodyfat levels.



Basically I agree with everything that Scott said (sorry Stu haven't read yours yet, haha). I just do high-intensity for the sole reason that I find low-intensity stuff straight boring, and I don't want to waste time doing something un-awesome (in the words of Jim Wendler). Granted, I'm just trying to be big and lean, and am in no way trying to compete in bodybuilding. If I was, it would be a different story. I'd probably do low-intensity cardio almost every day in that case.


Taking advantage of both is where it's at! As Stu points out; it's very easy to get carried away with the 'HIT' approach. Set a time limit and stop when you reach it, no matter how you feel. Stu says "20-25 minutes (Max)". If you can go much beyond that, you aren't working hard enough!! 20 minutes of 'Real Deal' HIT work is an ass kick'n.


Most behemoth bodybuilders don't/didn't locomote faster than a walk - in daily living and training.


It also depends on circumstance. Bodybuilders lift 4 to 6 times per week. After training hard and heavy with weights, most people are too fried to do intervals afterward. If you can do them in the morning and lift at night or vice versa and recover from multiple daily exercise sessions, then have at it (most people can't or don't have the inclination to do this).

And what intervals are we talking about here? When I was at my biggest, my thighs measured 28 inches at the thickest circumference (not pro level thighs, but pretty darn big). I found it extremely difficult to do intervals with squats and deadlifts in my programs (a back and leg day for bodybuilding, and two lower-body days for powerlifting). Forget about sprinting!