What Comes First - Cardio or Weights?

TRAINER TUESDAY

One of the most frequently asked questions is the order of Cardio training versus Strength-training. It's important to remember that this question has a different answer for everyone; there is no strict template someone should follow. What matters most are your specific needs, which guide the plan to reach your goals. Therefore, the correct answer to this age-old question is, “It depends…”

The benefit of cardio before strength-training is due to a shift in heart rate and consequently perceived effort and intensity. The benefit of strength-training before cardio is depleting the body’s carbohydrate stores, causing the body to use more fat for fuel.

A few other points to note, according to various studies include:

  • Running negatively affects strength-training more than cycling
  • Endurance training should be limited to 20-30 minutes as to minimize negative effects on resistance work
  • Moderate-to-high-intensity cardio decreases strength-training efficiency

Here are guidelines based on your particular goal:

Increase endurance (i.e. marathon/triathlon-training, better times, etc.)

  • CARDIO first

Increase lean muscle and/or lose weight

  • STRENGTH first

Increase strength

  • STRENGTH first

Increase upper-body strength

  • YOU PICK

Increase lower-body strength

  • STRENGTH first (and only strength for serious lower-body strength-building goals)

General fitness goals

  • YOU PICK! You may want to pick the one you least enjoy first, as you’ll be more likely to get it done when you aren’t as tired!