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(Steady State Cardio) LISS vs HIIT

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LISS vs HIIT, which is better for fat loss?

These two forms of cardio are very different. But, honestly, when it comes to losing weight, we really need to take a look at which exercise is the most enjoyable for you.

Even if one cardio form were a million times better than the other, if you hate it you are less likely to do it. That is why it really comes down to preference.

And I totally get it. Sometimes it’s just a wash. Either you hate both equally or vice versa or maybe you are indifferent and just want the most bang for your buck. If that’s the case, read on to see a comparison of the benefits of steady state cardio and HIIT.

woman riding red bike outdoors for cardio exercise

LISS vs HIIT for weight loss

Steady state cardio (LISS)

Okay, we are going to start with the underdog, but my personal favorite.

The obvious (and only real) con with LISS is the amount of time it takes up. HIIT workouts are designed to be quicker, but steady state could last anywhere from 20-45 minutes or more depending on your fitness level.

Because of this, it will likely take up your entire block of time at the gym.

The pros are:

  • helps you build endurance
  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduces stress and anxiety
  • a low intensity exercise, so it’s a little easier
  • helps sore muscles recover faster– I have noticed this first hand and love steady state cardio after a tough leg day
  • can be done more often- your body won’t need as much recovery time because it’s a low intensity exercise.
  • you can listen to a podcast or audio book while you workout
  • no equipment necessary IF running or biking outdoors


HIIT is a huge favorite right now and it makes sense. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a fast and efficient way to do cardio.

Here are the pros:

  • shorter workouts
  • easier to tack on to the end of a workout
  • It continues to burn calories post workout because it takes longer for your body to recover for the intense training
  • potentially burns more belly fat
  • can help lower blood pressure
  • helps improve heart health
  • more muscle preservation (less weight loss coming from muscle mass)
  • no equipment necessary


  • can be difficult for beginners
  • greater risk of injury
woman running near a lake

Which burns more calories?

It’s a coin toss really. The thing is, HIIT will burn more in a shorter period of time BUT since LISS is done for a lot longer it ends up burning similar amounts overall.

When we lose weight it typically comes from a combination of muscle, fat, and water.

HIIT does seem to preserve more muscle mass because it requires more muscle use during the exercise. It’s why sprinters tend to have more muscle mass than long distance runners.

Because of this, I would probably say that HIIT is best because it is efficient and prioritizes fat loss.

However, I still only do LISS. Why? I just enjoy it more. It relieves my stress, and helps my muscles recover from weight lifting. Plus, I hate HIIT.

You really only have to worry about losing muscle from LISS when you do it in excessive amounts, like marathon training for example. I do LISS once a week (on the stair master). I also weight train and keep my protein goals high to help my body preserve as much muscle mass as possible.

Pick which you love more or if you’re short on time, pick HIIT. Both will be effective for weight loss because they will help you achieve that calorie deficit.