Cardio Before or After Weight Training

A lot of people wonder whether they should do their cardio before or after weights.  The answer isn’t so simple though.  Various factors greatly determine if doing cardio before or after weights makes the most sense for you. Perhaps the number one, biggest influence in this answer is your individual fitness goals. Goals such as getting fit overall, bulking up your muscles and losing those extra pounds helps you decide on how hard you are going to hit the workout routines; your intensity and determination can help decide the order of your routine.

Besides your overall aim in working out, also need think about the following things when figuring out if you will do weight training first or cardio first.

1. Intensity of each component: are you performing a simple aerobics routine of steady state cardio or high intensity interval training (HIIT)? Do you perform low rep, heavy lifting or high rep training to failure?

2. Duration of each component: is cardio a marathon or short but intense session?

3. Conditioning: how do your muscles feel after cardio vs. weights? What fatigues you more?

4. Motivation – Do you have a personal preference as to which exercise you want to do first?  Are you more focused earlier in your workout or later?

Doing cardio before weight training was proven to be beneficial in a small study of ten men done by Brigham Young University. The findings are as follows:

* They concluded that it is better to do weight training after cardio when the two would be performed in the same workout. * Participants burned more calories for a longer period when weight training was done after the cardio portion. * On average, participants found it more difficult to do the cardio after the weight training.

Unfortunately, this study was only conducted on 10 individuals, so it isn’t a hard fast finding by any means. Sure, there are good things to be said for doing cardio first, but what about melting away all the fat?

When you think about it, it’s very practical to do your cardio exercise after weight training. It is very beneficial for your energy level to be at its highest rate when you are lifting weights. It requires a lot of mental focus and physical coordination to successfully do weight training. A bulk of most cardio workouts involve the legs, making it extremely difficult to be able to do sets of heavy squats following a 45-minute cardio workout.  That being said, the inverse is also true in that trying to run after doing heavy squats isn’t the easiest thing in the world either.

I do think that it’s a good idea to either separate your cardio and weight training sessions into different days, or to do weights and then cardio, I also suggest the following as overall goals:

1.  You can increase your endurance by doing cardio first; that can be done using high intensity interval training.

2. You can increase muscle by doing weights first, then cardio; both need a great focus and energy to perform well.

3. Burn fat: it depends! Many beginners benefit from doing cardio before weight training because they can burn more calories by performing a longer cardio routine relative to a weight training routine which tends to fatigue them faster.  However, if you are advanced in your exercise routine, you could do a series of resistance training followed by cardio to help maximize fat burning due to an accelerated release of fatty acids and HGH into the bloodstream.

4. Improve health: order has no impact when it comes to improving overall health

The bottom line is that there is no clear answer to the question: should I do cardio before or after weights?  Doing cardio work before weight training will increase your cardio endurance, however doing cardio work after weight training will help you to bulk up the size and strength of your muscles. You must decide which order benefits you the most and helps you reach your fitness goals best.

Dave has been an avid fitness fanatic for the past 15 years.  He aims to maintain a lean, athletic look through diet and exercise without spending hours in the gym.

Many of the fitness tips he provides may seem unconventional, but you can’t use a bodybuilding workout to look like an Abercrombie model.

Dave hopes to help his readers by providing no-nonsense tips highlighting what works, and what doesn’t work, when it comes to getting in shape.

Read more about fitness tips about the best workout routines to get lean at

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