By now you might be well-aware of the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but you’re still confused as to whether you should fit low-impact steady state (LISS) into your workout routine as well.

In this article, I’m going to explore some of the pros and cons of HIIT and LISS.

And at the end of the article, I will even give you a list of personal recommendations for VR games that embody both types of exercise.

But first, you should be aware that the best routine is the one that fits your lifestyle and health.

By no means are you required to push yourself to your maximum heart rate if it causes issues, and alternatively you may choose to ignore my LISS recommendations if you’re a hardened athlete.

That’s OK.

Let’s get started.

HIIT Pros and Cons

HIIT Pro #1: Crazy Calorie Burn

HIIT is, by definition, a high-intensity workout. It pushes your heart to the maximum BPM it can go- a number which you can approximate by following this guide from Lifehacker.

Even though the intervals are shorter, HIIT expects you to be working your body at 100% throughout.

This means that you’re burning the calories necessary to push your body to its limits. You are forging beyond what your body was capable of doing before, which actuates a change in how your body functions.

This is why it trains soldiers, firefighters, and police officers.

HIIT Pro #2: EPOC

HIIT causes something called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), where your heart will continue to burn calories until it restores itself all the way to its original state.

This is why, if you wear a fitness tracker like an Apple Watch or a Fitbit, you may see your calorie burn continue to soar during the hours after you’ve finished your workout.

HIIT Pro #3: Time Efficiency

The beauty of HIIT is how much work is getting done in so little a time.

You’re only supposed to do HIIT for a maximum of 40-50 minutes, and even 15 minutes of full-throttle HIIT will obliterate you if you’re a beginner.

But that’s a massive difference. It means that you won’t need to prolong your session for an hour, or an hour and a half, to reap the benefits of a complete workout.

When you’re doing HIIT, you’re going in and you’re performing at your peak, taking a short break, and then performing at your peak again.

This guy looks fast.

HIIT Pro #4: Muscle Gain

HIIT is both aerobic and anaerobic. Unlike sustained cardio, which is only aerobic.

You push your muscles to their limits, resulting in an increase in muscle mass.

While losing body fat comes with the concern of losing muscle mass, HIIT builds muscle while burning fat.

HIIT Con #1: Strain

HIIT pushes your body to its peak, which can be a problem if you don’t know your limits.

If you get tired and push yourself to the point where keeping form becomes an issue, continuing can cause strain and even severe damage to your muscles and joints.

When you’re in the middle of a workout, it might be difficult to gauge when you’re causing strain for yourself the next day.

HIIT Con #2: High Recovery Time

HIIT isn’t something that’s easy to go back and do again the next day.

Especially when strain is present, returning to your routine the next day- or even within the next several days- can cause injury and make it even more difficult to keep the routine going.

This is why you should buffer your HIIT routine with LISS workouts.

HIIT Con #3: It’s Difficult to Get Through

When your body isn’t prepared to operate at 80-100% of its peak performance for any sustained period of time, it’s easy for your workout to overwhelm you.

Non-athletes will run into strain, injury, and fatigue while first trying to tackle HIIT.

If I tried this with my workout buddy, I’m pretty sure we’d both fail.

HIIT Con #4: It’s Tough to Get Motivated About

HIIT takes discipline to come back to; day over day, week over week.

Especially when you have other stressful things going on, it’s difficult to get yourself primed to give a sustained 100% effort for 20-40 minutes of your day.

LISS Pros and Cons

LISS Pro #1: Simpler Activities

LISS can be as simple as walking, jogging, dancing or anything else that keeps your heart rate around 50% of your maximum.

LISS Pro #2: Less Strain

Because you aren’t pushing your body to extremes, there is less opportunity for you to burn yourself during your LISS workout.

LISS Pro #3: It’s Associated With Fun

Imagine how much fun you’d be having right now if you were outside playing a game of tennis or frisbee-golf.

You can almost feel the summer sun on your skin, right? That’s LISS.

And every single VR game in existence can be worked into a LISS routine.

Because of its level variety, Beat Saber can function as a LISS workout, a HIIT workout, or anything in-between.

LISS Pro #4: You’re More Likely to Stay Consistent

When you’re enjoying yourself and you’re feeling good doing something, it’s easier for you to work it into your daily schedule.

LISS Con #1: Less Efficiency

To see any results with LISS, you need to sustain it for a long time. This can mean hours spent doing your preferred LISS activity

LISS Con #2: Can Lead to Muscle Loss

With LISS, you’ll be losing body fat. You won’t be doing anything anaerobic, so you won’t be building any muscle. As a result, your muscle mass will decrease as you progress through your LISS routine.

LISS Con #3: No EPOC

Unlike with higher intensity training, your heart won’t have anything to recover from after your LISS workout. So you won’t be losing calories after your LISS workout is over.

LISS Con #4: Diminishing Returns

If you stay with a LISS routine for an arbitrary period of time (and don’t deviate at all), it completely loses effectiveness.

And then you need to change your routine until you start seeing your fitness improve again.

VR Workout Recommendations

If you want to get the results of a HIIT workout without as much hassle, you’re strongly recommended to do your workouts in VR!

The three must-have VR games on your list are:

  1. The Thrill of the Fight!

2. BOXVR

3. Holopoint

If you want to focus on LISS, you should instead play these games:

  1. SUPERHOT VR

2. Space Pirate Trainer

3. Racket: Nx

And if you want to hit 50-70% of your maximum heart rate for about an hour each day, I recommend:

  1. Beat Saber

2. Sparc

3. GORN

Conclusion

You might be trying to figure out how to balance HIIT and LISS into your workout.

If you want to see real results, you know that you need to stick to HIIT.

But LISS is so much easier to do regularly.

VR has games that provide both types of exercise, and it even has games that go between the two.

There are no restrictions on your workout in VR.

So you can ease into fitness at your own pace.

Have you used VR to achieve a high-intensity routine?


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