Cardio before or after weights?

Cardio before or after weights?

By Katherine Webb

Confused over what to do first? You’re not alone. Even experts differ, with some saying cardio should be first because it warms your body up before weights. Others say weight training is more efficient when your body is fresh. So which camp is right?

Well, neither. Or both. Studies show there are benefits whichever way round you chose to do it. The deciding factor depends on your personal fitness goals and preferences and how you can schedule your workout. 

GOALS

  • If you want to lose weight, cardio may be best completed first. According to one study, doing running before weights maximises calorie afterburn. You will also have more time and energy to put into your aerobic activity.
  • Other studies suggest weight training first burns more fat. As everyone’s body responds differently to exercise regimes you need to find out for yourself what works best.
  • Remember, whichever body part you train first, reaps the biggest benefits. So, if you wish to build heart endurance, do cardio first.
  • Alternatively, if you want to build lean muscle mass and strength, do weights first. Another study found doing cardio before resistance interferes with muscle building in the short term. 

PREFERENCES

  • How does your energy fluctuate? If you’re completely wiped after doing weights and have nothing left, do cardio first. If you’re too tired after cardio you won’t put much effort into strength exercises.
  • What do you enjoy most? If you love cardio, save it until last and get your least favourite exercise over with first.

SCHEDULE

  • If you have plenty of time consider doing weights and cardio workouts on different days, or at least 3 hours apart.
  • A busy schedule means you might do well with interval training.

Whichever order you choose, the important thing is to exercise 3 or 4 times a week. You really can’t go wrong from there.

Comments

gurjit s.
17 October 2014

gurjit s.

Finish your weights - end on legs then go for a run .

Emma C.
10 October 2014

Emma C.

I do whatever makes me feel good, which is lots of movement first (cardio) first, then staying relatively still doing resistance exercises (weights). it just feels wrong the other way.

Ryan a.
29 September 2014

Ryan a.

If you looking to build muscle then you do weights first. If you do cardio first you burn and use all the glucose in your body up. How ever weights doesn't have that effect. Nothing wrong with a warm up but not a cardio session.

Sasha B.
28 September 2014

Sasha B.

I love doing cardio first, and anything else would just feel plain wrong. It hasn't done me any harm so far!

craig t.
28 September 2014

craig t.

I really don't think it makes that much difference. Sure, in lab tests they might detect tiny differences but really does it matter that much? It makes working out more complicated than it needs to be and might put some people off.

Roger B.
26 September 2014

Roger B.

even at my very amateur level, I've paid the penalty for doing arm exercises without warming up first and getting blood pumping. So cardio first for me.

Mike D.
26 September 2014

Mike D.

Aerobic capacity is my focus so I like to give my all to some outdoor sprinting, alternating with the gym for weight training.

Joseph M.
26 September 2014

Joseph M.

I have dedicated focus days for different parts of my body when it comes to weights (leg day / arm day etc) but I try to fit in a bit of cardio every day. A three-hour gap would be difficult to manage but I do occasionally give interval training a go.

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