Should you do Cardio before or after my Weight Training?
“The Pro’s and Con’s of pre/post cardio”
Listen to the Podcast
Have you ever asked yourself when you should do your cardio: Before or After Weight Training?
I know I have but only over the last few years because while I was a competitive bodybuilder, I didn’t believe in cardio and banned it from my exercise regime. Things have changed, and I have graciously accepted cardiovascular training and now incorporate into my exercise program.
But the question still remains; what’s better, doing cardio before or after your weight-training?
Well, that depends on some personal factors along with some proven science – so today I’ll explain the Pro’s and Con’s of doing cardio before or after your weight training.
First things first; what is more important to you, increasing your strength or your endurance?
Your goals will be a significant factor in determining if you should do your cardio before or after your weight-training.
If your main goal is to increase strength, then arguably you wouldn’t want to expend energy doing cardio at the beginning of your workout. The question then would be, how would you warm-up without doing cardio?
If your main goal is to increase endurance, then you wouldn’t want to expend too much energy doing your weight-training first because then you will be fatigued during your cardio workout.
Does cardio turn you off or on? What are you more motivated to do; cardio or weight training?
We have to take into consideration what motivates us and what doesn’t when deciding what type of exercise do first. We want to tackle the hard work first, so we don’t skip it altogether, so if cardio is something that you don’t like, you might want to get it done first.
Besides your personal preferences, let’s look at the pros of doing cardio BEFORE your weight-training…
- warms up the body and prevents injury by increasing blood and oxygen to the muscles along with increasing synovial fluid in the joints.
- Stimulates the sympathetic nervous system so body chemicals needed for high-intensity exercise can be released (e.g. endorphins and dopamine)
Now the cons…
- If your primary goal is to increase strength, depending on the intensity of your pre-weight training cardio, you will be expending energy that could be used for your weight training session.
– Thinking you have to do cardio for a warm-up! There are alternatives like calisthenics and dynamic stretching!! See this post for more info:
Now here’s the Pro’s of doing cardio AFTER your weight-training…
– Can act as a great cool down (if done at a low intensity), helping the body to transition back into a resting state, reduce blood pooling, disperse lactic acid generated during your weight training session.
And the cons…
– If your primary goal is to increase your endurance, you may be exhausted after your weight training, and therefore, the intensity of your cardio will decrease – the opposite of what would be necessary to increase your endurance levels.
– Thinking that cardio after your weight training will aid in the fat burning process – NOT TRUE (see reference below)
Final point: At the of day, when you do, your cardio will be based on personal preference but must also consider your goals
And if you’re wondering why I had a change of heart and now include cardio into my workouts, there are a few reasons. First of all, to prevent injuries during my weight training.
What do I do? I have incorporated 20 minutes of cardio before my workout – why? Because I feel more ready to hit the weights after warming up on cardio machines (but not fatiguing myself). For the record, I still don’t like cardio, so I need to get it out of the way before I start my weight-training – or it won’t be completed!
I’ve had plenty of weight-training related injuries and I have far less now because I am fully warmed-up before I hit the weights. Lastly, my focus now is slightly more biased towards increasing my endurance and stamina (although I still love being strong) so that’s another reason I do my cardio before my weight-training.
But that’s my routine – What about yours?
Here’s a challenge! Because we always need to be confusing our body with different workouts to continue progressing, I’m challenging you to switch the sequence you are doing your cardio. If you usually do it at the end of your workout, for one week, switch it up and do it at the beginning of your workout or vice versa.
And if you are not currently engaged in weight training, start doing it! Vice versa, if you (like I was) only hitting the weights – take a spin on a bike or a climb on the Stairmaster.
Your body will RESPOND!
Until the next time, my friend, keep moving, whatever way works best for you and inspire to aspire.
IDEA Health & Fitness Association
Many personal trainers think that performing strength training before cardiovascular exercise will augment the amount of fat used during the cardio workout because the strength training will deplete the muscles’ store of carbohydrates (glycogen). However, strength training is not likely to deplete glycogen stores, because a lot of the workout time is spent resting between sets and exercises. Even if the strength workout were long and intense enough to accomplish this task, exercising in a glycogen-depleted state has many negative consequences, including an increase in acidic compounds produced in response to low carbohydrate levels, low blood insulin, hypoglycemia, increased amino acid (protein) metabolism, increased blood and muscle ammonia and a strong perception of fatigue. Currently, no research shows that strength training immediately before a cardio workout increases the amount of fat used during the cardio workout, or vice versa. Most likely, the intensity of the activity, not the mode of exercise, determines the “fuel”—either fat, carbohydrate or protein—that is used. However, if clients strength train first, it is possible that muscle fatigue incurred from the strength training could cause them to decrease the intensity of their subsequent cardio workout, thus leading them to expend fewer calories over the workout as a whole.
Like this episode? Please share it! My blog, videos, and podcast are ad-free ONLY because you share my work!