The term "no pain, no gain" is common to the world of exercise.
While the phrase doesn't always imply that exercise should be physically painful, it does suggest that pushing yourself to the limits of your endurance is essential for getting the best results.
That doesn't mean high-intensity training is the only way to staying in shape and get more energy.
A great alternative to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is low-intensity steady-state cardio (LIIS). You'll burn calories and get cardiovascular benefits but without the physical strain of high-impact workouts.
What Is LIIS?
As its name implies, low-intensity-steady-state cardio means working out at a pace that's not as demanding as high-intensity exercise. With LIIS, you do light cardio at 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate, usually for long durations at a consistent pace.
LIIS has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years because it’s easier on the joints. Research also indicates that lower-intensity workouts can be just as effective as higher-intensity training.
Why LIIS Works
There are several reasons why LIIS is beneficial to your health. Most notably, LIIS workouts are:
- A low-impact way to work your tendons, joints, ligaments and muscles. They’re easier on your joints, making them ideal for people with arthritis or those.
- An easy way to prepare yourself for higher intensity workouts. If you’re new to working out, high-intensity training can be difficult to start. LIIS exercises can help you work up your endurance to the point where you can easily handle higher workouts.
- Easier to stick with. More grueling workouts can wear you down mentally as well as physically. Because LIIS workouts are gentler, it’s easier to push through them and remember to workout regularly.
- Safer than harder workouts. You can do LIIS on consecutive days without the risk of injury or of becoming overly fatigued. In an age when many people sit for the majority of their working hours, it's an ideal way to get moving.
LIIS In Conjunction With HIIT
If HIIT is your preferred training style, you can still do LIIS workouts on an active recovery day. You'll reduce stress and burn fat while giving your joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles a break from hard training.
For some people, deciding which type of workout is best depends on time. Someone who has limited time to exercise may benefit more from HIIT because you'll burn more calories in a shorter period.
One way to combine the two types of workouts is to incorporate LIIS training into one of your cardio days.
Examples Of LIIS Workouts
Walking is perhaps the easiest form of LIIS training and can be done almost anywhere. If you prefer working out in a gym, however, there are plenty of options: treadmills, rowing machines, swimming, elliptical machines, and more. If you're using a machine, carefully monitor your pace and heart rate to stay within the LIIS "zone."
Again, the foundation of LIIS training is working out at a relaxed pace that doesn't push your body to its limits. The speed at which you perform your workout may depend on your fitness level, but the bottom line is that you train at low-intensity for a continuous period.