Are you a HIIT person? Or maybe you’re more of a LIIT person with a dash of HIIPA?
Or maybe you have no idea what that means… Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Fitness is full of funny acronyms. It’s hard to keep track of it all.
So to simplify it, here's 4 essential types of workouts and their benefits, so you can figure out what fitness fits best and how to build your best workout routine.
But first, here’s why all these exercise types are important to your fitness journey.
Exercise types and why you need to know them
More active habits can only start when you’re able to identify and track the fitness you already do.
According to the CDC, most adults need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (anything that gets your heart beating faster counts), and at least 2 days a week that include muscle-strengthening activity.
Moderate-intensity activity includes all types of exercise from HIIT to HIIPA. Learning the different types of exercise will help you decide what extra movements you need to add to your practice in addition to the fitness level you’re already at.
Remember, always consult your doctor before making changes to your workout or fitness routine.
Here’s the most common and useful types of exercise you need to know.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a type of anaerobic workout that alternates between bursts of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest. HIIT workouts typically require less time to achieve the same benefits of a longer, less intense workout.
In addition to being a shorter, quicker workout that can be more schedule-friendly, HIIT workouts often require little or no equipment. Instead, most HIIT workout exercises rely on your own body weight to create resistance and cardio.
These benefits make HIIT workouts a good option if you’re looking for an effective routine that can fit into a busy schedule.
However, HIIT workouts are vigorous and intense. Finding success with HIIT workouts usually requires a higher level of fitness and isn't always the best option if you’re new to moving more or just getting started on your fitness journey.
HIIT workouts can also cause more post-workout fatigue and soreness than other types of workout. Keep this in mind as you choose your preferred exercise type.
If you deal with joint pain, are dealing with injuries, or have dealt with injuries in the past, diving into HIIT right away might not be for you. Always consult your doctor before making changes to your workout practice.
While HIIT is a quick and effective approach to exercise, it’s best to start slow and work your way towards the fitness level required to benefit from HIIT workouts.
Smart exercise starts with a balance between exercise and other parts of your lifestyle, including fitness level and what you want to achieve with your fitness practice. Keep that in mind as you decide if HIIT is right for you.
Low-Intensity Interval Training (LIIT)
Low-intensity interval training (LIIT) is a type of workout that combines small, lower-intensity exercise with longer periods of rest. LIIT workouts are less intense than HIIT workouts and are geared towards fitness beginners, anyone coming off a fitness hiatus, or people with lower fitness levels looking to ease into increased movement.
LIIT workouts can include common HIIT exercises like squat and push-up variations, but are typically done slower, with fewer reps, and longer periods of rest in between sets. LIIT workouts take longer than HIIT workouts, but can ultimately give you the same benefits as a shorter HIIT workout.
Because LIIT workouts aren’t as vigorous as other workout types, they can be a great way to insert fitness into your day without breaking a huge sweat, or getting overly tired and sore.
Remember, fitness doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing activity. Starting slow and simply moving more than you did before is the first step towards building your fitness and growing healthy habits. LIIT workouts are the perfect way to find a beginners fitness plan that works for you.
Low-Intensity Steady-State (LISS)
Low-intensity steady-state (LISS) workouts are low to medium-intensity workouts that are longer in duration but less intense than other high-impact workouts like HIIT. LISS workouts are typically at least 40-60 minutes in length and focus on sustained low-moderate cardio activities like cycling, brisk walking and other similar activities.
LISS workouts are beneficial as part of a well-rounded workout routine, no matter what your fitness level is. LISS is perfect for beginners looking to ease into their fitness journey or movers with a higher level of fitness looking to add some variation to their fitness routine.
Exercises like brisk walking to get your daily steps, cycling, light jogging, and even some types of yoga can count as LISS as long as you sustain 50-60% of your maximum heart rate for at least 40-60 minutes.
While LISS workouts are great for lower impact exercise and varying levels of fitness, they do take longer than other workout alternatives. Fitting them into your day can be tough if you keep a busy schedule.
Additionally, the duration of your LISS workouts will have to increase as your fitness level grows in order to have continued success.
Overall, LISS workouts are great for fitness beginners or more advanced movers looking to add some new exercise types to their routine. Think of a summer hike with friends or a game of hockey for fun—you’re probably doing some LISS already.
High-Intensity Incidental Physical Activity (HIIPA)
High-intensity incidental physical activity is any incidental activity that increases the heart rate during normal, everyday life. Some examples of HIIPA can include sweeping the entire house, carrying heavy laundry to the laundromat, or yard work like raking or weeding.
Physical activity you encounter incidentally during your day is just as valid as other, more workout-focussed activities and counts towards your overall fitness needs.
Taking the stairs or walking to the store instead of driving, all qualify as part of your overall fitness. Keep HIIPA in mind as you assess your current fitness levels. You might be moving more than you think!
While HIIPA is important to acknowledge as a real part of your daily fitness, try to combine HIIPA with other types of exercise. Relying on HIIPA alone isn’t always enough.
Though most HIIPA movements are ‘incidental’, they don’t have to be. Making small fitness choices during your day—like parking further from an entrance or standing up and moving more often while you work—will help you find more HIIPA moments to add to your overall fitness.
Know it. Build it.
Now that you know the main types of exercise, use them to build a workout practice that works for your fitness level and lifestyle. Variety will keep things interesting.
HIIT, LIIT, HIIPA, and LISS are all great additions to any fitness plan. Remember, you’re moving more than you think. Sometimes all it takes is a little more movement to level up.
Start tracking your fitness and don’t forget to thank yourself for staying educated and taking your fitness seriously.