The debate between HIIT vs. LISS cardio can get heated…pun fully intended.

Some people swear by high intervals while others hold onto the notion that a steady state is best. So which one will give the best results without wasted effort?

HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, involves short bursts with high effort, followed by lower-effort rest intervals.  These workouts are generally shorter in duration. LISS, or Low-Intensity Steady State, involves consistent effort at a steady pace for an allotted amount of time. This type of workout can be sustained for a longer period because they’re less taxing on the body.

Now, it is true that HIIT burns more calories when compared to LISS, but the key here is knowing where those calories are coming from. When your body is in demand for quick energy for a workout, it will burn carbs to fuel your workout. Low-intensity exercise, on the other hand, burns more calories from fat for the long haul.

So which cardio is for me?

It depends on your goals. Are you looking to improve your endurance, or burn fat?

HIIT workouts help increase peak performance while improving heart-rate recovery. During HIIT workouts, your heart rate stays near the aerobic threshold. When you train at this threshold, you increase your ability to sustain a higher heart rate for longer periods, making it a popular choice for athletes to help with performance.

When performing LISS workouts, your heart rate stays in the “fat-burning” zone, at about 50%–65% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). MHR is the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can tolerate during exercise. An easy way to estimate your MHR is with an easy formula:

220 – your age = your MHR in beats per minute (bpm)

LISS cardio may take a little longer in the gym, but it is less taxing on the body and great for beginners or people recovering from injury.

At the end of the day, the HIIT vs LISS debate doesn’t end with one being better than the other. Often, the best solution is a combination of both HIIT and LISS. How much you do depends on your goals as well as your personal preference; the key is to find cardio you enjoy so you’ll do it consistently.