Low Intensity Interval Training (LIIT) is a cardio workout that has repeated bouts of “low intensity” exercises combined with short periods of rest.
Think of it like going for a steady run, cycle or swim. The intensity is the same. Instead of racking up the miles, you perform LIIT on the spot with bodyweight exercises.
It’s a great way to build your aerobic fitness and has a whole host of benefits.
LIIT vs HIIT: What’s the difference?
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) also involves repeated bouts of exercise separated by rest periods. The major difference between HIIT and LIIT is the intensity.
For HIIT, you are working at an effort that is “hard to very hard”. The heart rate rises sharply into “zone 4-5” (near maximum heart rate) for a short time period. Then you rest. This lets your heart rate drop back down and you repeat several rounds.
For LIIT, you’re working at a ‘moderate effort’ level’. The goal is to keep a steady heart rate at the top end of “zone 2” (about 70% of your maximum heart rate) for the workout’s duration.
The intensity of LIIT and HIIT are at opposite ends of the spectrum. This means the exercises used, the work:rest ratios and the length of the workouts are completely different.
Is LIIT better for you and your goals?
As always, it depends. But consider this…
Elite endurance athletes spend about 80% of their cardio training in zone 2 (low intensity) and about 20% in zone 4-5 (high intensity).
If you’re looking to become an aerobic machine that’s an excellent split to follow.
If you’re just looking to get fit while you support your muscle and strength goals, it might be better to stick with low intensity training. At least initially. It’s far less fatiguing and easier to recover from. It’s also less likely to interfere with your weight training.
What are the benefits of LIIT?
It’s easy to do
You can literally unroll an exercise mat and get after it, right from the comfort of your home. So there’s really no excuses to skip cardio day.
Fun and varied
Some people love like running, cycling, and swimming to build cardio. Some people don’t. LIIT is a good alternative you can change up as you choose.
You can do it at home, so there’s no travelling or faffing around before you get started and after you’re done. 30 minutes is all you need.
How will low intensity cardio help your fitness goals?
It supports your strength and muscle building
You can increase your work capacity so you can handle more weight for more reps. You’ll be able to push harder as your strength workouts wear on.
You recover faster
The aerobic system drives recovery. The fitter you are, the faster you’ll rebuild and recover post workout. That’s the time when gains are made.
You burn fat and improve body composition
Low intensity training mainly burns fat for fuel. This benefits metabolic health and weight management.
Aerobic fitness is tightly linked with longevity. That includes both healthspan (quality of life and years without morbidity) and lifespan (length of life).
When you become fitter, you feel fit. You will sleep better, have more energy and be in a better mood more often.
Try a LIIT workout
Our favourite way of doing LIIT workouts is to rotate between 3 bodyweight exercises for 30 minutes. Perform each exercise for 25 seconds and rest between 0-10 seconds between them.
How To Modify The Intensity.
The goal is to work at a “moderate” intensity and that’s why the rest period can be adjusted. You might need more, you might need less.
If you’re not wearing a heart rate monitor, it should feel like a “strained conversational pace”. If it’s too comfortable, rest less. If you’re gasping for breath, rest more.
If you are wearing a heart rate monitor, try to keep the heart rate steady around 70% of maximum. If it’s lower than that, rest less. If it’s higher than that, rest more.
Where can you find more LIIT Workouts?
On the PRGRM App, LIIT workouts (which we call Anti-HIIT workouts) are in every program as one of your cardio options.
- Different exercise combinations to vary your LIIT workouts
- Full tutorials to show you how to do the exercises safely.
- Guidance on when to do them in your routine.