Most people go to the gym to either lift weights, do cardio, or do a combination of both. If you're anything like me, you probably like doing a healthy mix of both.
After all, cardio and weight training have different benefits. Cardio can help your body burn more calories and improve cardiovascular health.
On the other hand, weight training can be great for increasing strength, building muscle, and boosting metabolism.
For those of us who incorporate a little bit of both in each training session ... it's pretty common to wonder: “Should you do cardio before or after weights?”
The answer is, it depends on your goals. But the reason behind the answer may not be what you expect. Keep reading and I'll tell you everything you need to know...
Which One Should I Do First?
So, should you do cardio before or after weights? Well, like I said, it depends on your goals!
You see, there isn’t enough sound science that indicates which order is better. So the reason why I say it depends on your goals is because your body will use a significant amount of energy on whatever you start with.
Think about it like this ... your body can pull from a wide variety of energy sources such as stored fat, glycogen, and muscle tissue to fuel your training. Which nutrients it pulls from depends on a wide variety of factors involving your nutrition and the workout itself.
In addition to that, your muscle tissue can also fatigue by the time you start the next part of your workout. I think we can all relate to that feeling.
Here's an example:
If you run a mile, then follow it up with some squats ... do you really think you'll have the same strength for your squats as you would if you didn't just run a mile?
I'm just trying to make a simple point. My point is, as you break down muscle and use up stored energy ... you'll have less in the tank when it comes time to do the second part of your workout.
So really ... The question of "Should you do cardio before or after weights" ultimately won't matter at a certain point, because either way, you'll be fatigued!
If you do cardio first, your body may not be in the best spot to tackle the stress of lifting weights.
If you start with lifting weights, you may not have enough energy to sustain cardio long enough to reap the full benefits.
For that reason alone, I'm sure you can understand why it's hard to slap a label on which order is "better". You’ll have to decide for yourself based on what you want to achieve and through some trial and error.
The one you start with will likely get the better workout. So, consider giving first spot to the exercises that matter most to your fitness goals.
If you are looking to improve your strength and lean muscle, try starting with weights.
If you are looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness or endurance, do cardio first.
Beyond that, I can't pretend like there are specific benefits to doing one first over the other. That would be misleading.
So, while this may have not been the answer or explanation you were looking for ... it's the truth.
Maybe, with time, we'll come to find out that there actually is a significant benefit to doing one before the other! But as of right now, the real benefit of doing one before the other strictly comes down to the energy you have available at the beginning of your workout vs the end.
The more effort and energy you put into one form of exercise ... the more of its benefits you'll draw from.
Although, I do have one last piece of advice: Stay consistent. Real results come from consistency and discipline in your actions. Staying on track with your diet and workouts is far more important than whether you do cardio or weights first.
If you feel like you're not seeing the results you're looking for, or need help with anything ... reach out to us! Above all else, we are committed to helping you earn the best results possible. Here at 1st Phorm HQ, we have several Certified Personal Trainers (NASM-CPT), Nutrition Coaches (NASM-CNC), and even some dietitians like myself who are all happy to help.