High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, has been the talk of the fitness world for the past few months. Now, its less intense cousin, LIIT, is also starting to gain traction among fitness enthusiasts and people who are looking to shed a few kilos. But what is the difference between these two training methods?
High-intensity interval training is exactly what the acronym says: this training method utilises short bursts of maximum output and intensity over a short period of time, typically 20 to 30 minutes. This usually involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise, followed by short periods of rest until the next exercise in the series is undertaken.
Not for the faint of heart, HIIT pushes people to the absolute limit. Because it’s a form of endurance training – albeit one that doesn’t require sustained activity for extended periods of time – HIIT tends to totally exhaust participants. The proposed benefits associated with HIIT are many: HIIT burns more calories than other types of exercise that involve longer periods of sustained activity, it accelerates fat loss, it helps to improve oxygen consumption and increases the metabolic rate and lean muscle growth.
It should be mentioned that HIIT may cause dizziness for some participants, due to rapid changes in blood pressure while alternating between high intensity and rest, and can lead to muscle damage when exercises are done incorrectly.
Just like HIIT workouts, low-intensity interval training also incorporates intervals of exertion, followed by intervals of rest. The key difference here is that the activities that make up a LIIT regime aren’t quite as strenuous, and the recovery time between exercises is longer. Some people even go so far as calling it a more mindful approach to fitness.
With LIIT, the element of impact is removed, and movements are slower and more controlled, making LIIT the go-to for beginners and for people that are older or recovering from injuries.
For comparison, a LIIT session might see participants undertake a 90-second jog on the treadmill, followed by three to five minutes of walking recovery. During a HIIT session, which usually lasts about half the time of a LIIT session, that 90-second jog would be a 90-second sprint, followed by a short jog for recovery.
Choosing between HIIT an LIIT will depend on your abilities. The benefits associated with HIIT and LIIT are very similar – a LIIT regime will ultimately deliver the same results, just in a longer period of time. If you are a seasoned gym buff looking to quickly cut the fat, HIIT may be the exercise regime for you, while less experienced people, the elderly, and those recovering from an injury may find LIIT more beneficial.