According to the CDC, adults should spend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, such as brisk walking or running. They also recommend doing some form of muscle-strengthening activity, like doing push-ups or lifting weights, for at least two sessions per week. Knowing this, you should prioritize cardio and weight training exercises in your daily or weekly routine. However, this can lead you to ask this question: “Should you do cardio before or after weights?”
Which Should Come First?
You can ask different people whether you should do cardio or weights first, and you’ll get different answers. This is because the order of doing these exercises depend largely on your fitness goals.
For instance, there’s a common misconception that cardio can help you lose weight easily. However, both types of exercises are crucial to burning calories and shedding those pounds.
Traditionally, it was recommended that people alternate their workouts. This meant focusing on cardio or weight training for a particular day. Nonetheless, experts say you can incorporate them in the same workout session as long as you perform them properly.
When to Do Cardio First
If you’re looking to boost your endurance, you should start doing cardio first before weights. Lifting heavy objects before cardio exercises can fatigue the muscles. As a result, there’s a higher risk of injuries due to improper form, especially when running.
Plus, you’ll get tired more easily when you start with weights rather than cardiovascular exercises. You might not be able to last long when you finally get to the second part of your workout.
You can also opt to do cardio first during upper body strength training days or if you just want to stay fit without targeting specific areas. This way, you can use this exercise to get your body primed for heavy lifting by building up the heart rate zone to burn fat and tone your muscles effectively.
When to Do Weights First
On the other hand, in the question of whether to do cardio before or after weights, you should start with cardio if you want to get leaner or lose weight. Your body burns glycogen faster when you lift weights, thus facilitating the conversion of fat to energy and then to muscle. You can do resistance training and follow it up with a low-intensity cardiovascular exercise. Also, if you want to gain muscle mass or boost your strength, you should still start with weight lifting.
For days when you want to do lower body strength training, it’s also wise to start with weight lifting. You don’t want to tire your leg muscles by beginning with cardio, since it might increase the risk of injuries.
Tips for Maximizing Cardio and Weight Training
As mentioned above, cardio and weight training can help you achieve your fitness goals effectively. This combination makes use of your anaerobic and aerobic systems to break down glycogen stores and fat.
Here are some tips to help you maximize your cardio and weight workouts:
Experiment and Listen to Your Body
Note that there’s no universal answer to “should you do cardio before or after weights?” You should try doing cardio first, then weights or vice versa, and see what works for you. Experiment with different intensities as well so that you can feel what makes sense to your body and needs.
You can even do both simultaneously. Circuit training programs incorporate resistance training exercises, such as squats and push-ups, with cardio routines, like jump ropes and jogging. This routine might work best for you since you’ll be moving around a lot.
Of course, the trick to maximizing your workout is to find exercises that you enjoy doing. If you find that you thrive when there are other people with you, you can enroll in a gym. If you feel stifled training within four walls, you can opt for playground boot camps or other outdoor exercise programs.
Make sure to listen to your body and keep track of your progress with different exercises. Do you feel more energized when starting your workout with cardio rather than weights? Or is it the other way around? You can also use apps and devices to monitor your body’s responses to the regimens for quantifiable data.
Combine Exercise with a Balanced Diet
Your body is a machine that should be fueled appropriately for it to function. Even if you’re planning to lose weight, you should still eat before working out so that you don’t pass out while doing the exercises.
Calories aren’t inherently bad. People just think that it causes them to gain weight. However, calories, from a scientific point of view, are actually used to measure how much energy a food provides.
On average, an American woman would need around 1,600 to 2,400 calories a day, while an American man would need 2,000 to 3,000. Note, though, that the amount of calories you have to consume per day largely depends on your age, height, size, lifestyle, health condition, and activity level. If you work out regularly, you can generally stick to the median of these ranges.
Keep Your Workout Challenging
If you’re no longer feeling the burn during your workout, it may be time to up the ante and go for higher reps or longer runs. Your body shouldn’t get accustomed to your regimen.
You can also mix it up every once in a while. For instance, if you started doing cardio first and then weights, you can switch up the order and start with weights. This can trick your muscles into thinking that you’re doing something different when you’re just tweaking your routine a bit.
Make Time for Rest and Recovery
However, make sure you don’t exercise excessively. Rest and recovery are crucial for your progress. Your body rebuilds and grows stronger only after you’ve given it sufficient time to recuperate. If you’re a beginner, you can start by working out twice a week and giving an allowance of one or two days before your next exercise session.
The question of whether you should do cardio or weights first is something that only you can answer. It depends on your fitness goals, needs, and preferences. Consider these suggestions and see whether they work for you.