By Lisa Payne, CPT

It’s the mission of fitness professionals all around the world to promote workouts that are targeted, effective and efficient. And when motivation begins to dwindle, those workouts should be there to inspire you to keep going.

Enter the LISS cardio-style workout. The acronym stands for Low-Intensity Steady State. Essentially, LISS is being able to maintain a low-intensity workout over a longer period of time. The intensity is as low as 50-60% of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum target heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Multiply that number by .50 and .60 to get your ideal range for steady-state training. LISS workouts include things like long-distance walking, light jogging and cycling for leisure. When you incorporate more consistent movement like this throughout your week you can start to cater training to your lifestyle and fitness level.  

If you’re curious about what a LISS cardio workout can do for you, here are five common questions:

What Are the Benefits of Doing a LISS Workout?

Working as low as 50-60% of your maximum heart rate as opposed to working within a more moderate to vigorous range can have many benefits. It can reduce the amount of physical stress on your body including injuries and cellular damage. Lower intensity training also increases circulation and supports the removal of metabolic waste, which can lead to muscle soreness. LISS workouts are intended to benefit your cardiovascular endurance so that you may build towards workouts of a higher intensity.

How Do Steady-state Workouts Compare to High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

A study put out by the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine compared the effects of high-intensity interval training against those of steady-state training (LISS) on aerobic and anaerobic capacity. 55 untrained college-aged individuals went through eight weeks of HIIT, steady state or moderate state intensity training protocols. The two main points that came out of this study were that there seemed to be no difference between those who were in the HIIT and the steady state group. The study also showed that mild interval training presented similar physiologic challenges as the steady state training. Ultimately by keeping the intensity low but the volume high, you can inevitably relish in the same metabolic benefits as shorter, more intense workouts.

How Often Can You Do LISS workouts?

Since LISS workouts are considered lower-impact they can be done daily. And when it comes time to enter into a progression program, LISS workouts can serve as active recovery days from more moderate to high-intensity workouts. The hardest part about LISS workouts is finding the extra time in your week. But if you have the time and you love moving, mix up the type of workouts you do to prevent boredom.

Is There a Proper Progression Program?

LISS workouts are a minimum of 30-45 minutes but can go as long as 90 minutes. You are working at a continual pace without stopping. It could be a long continuous walk with your dog, a brisk walk around an amusement park or lake, hopping on a rowing machine or a recumbent bike.

What Kinds of Foods or Supplements Are Suggested to Boost These Types of Workouts?

The higher the intensity level of the workout and the longer the steady state workout, the more fuel you’ll need to make those workouts last. Optimal pre- and post-workout snacks often include a balance of both carbohydrates and protein. Healthy examples are peanut butter (or other nut and seed butters) on an apple, a low-sugar protein bar, a small bowl full of oatmeal with chia seeds or a protein shake. It’s also important to stay hydrated with enough water and electrolytes.

The steady state nature of LISS workouts allows you to adapt to the workload in a user-friendly way by adding intensity or volume when you’re ready. And as you progress to higher intensity workouts, LISS workouts are there for active recovery. LISS workouts are for anyone ready to get moving and stay moving!


  1. Carl Foster, John P. Porcari. "The Effects Of High-Intensity Interval Training Vs Steady State Training On Aerobic And Anaerobic Capacity". Pubmed Central (PMC), 2018, Accessed 13 Aug 2018.