This is by far one of the most common question which people have asked me – “Should I do cardio before or after weights?”
While the long answer is “it depends”, because the order of operation can change depending on a person’s goal. But, most people will be better off completing cardio after weights whether their primary goal is muscle gain, strength gain, or fat loss.
Here are 5 reasons why you should consider doing cardio after weights:
EXERCISE FEELS HARDER DOING CARDIO FIRST
Studies show that “perceived exertion” rates is higher when you do cardio first before strength training.
(Percieved exertion: Perceived exertion is how hard you feel like your body is working. It is based on the physical sensations a person experiences during physical activity, including increased heart rate, increased respiration or breathing rate, increased sweating, and muscle fatigue.)
So it’s definitely wise to save cardio for later.
MORE ENERGY FOR LIFTING WEIGHTS
A no-brainer, really. I’ll tell you why, you use up your body’s preferred energy source for intense exercise. If you use up that energy, it won’t be available when you need to lift heavy weights, making a goal of building muscle, increasing strength, or maximizing calorie burn through weight lifting compromised.
3. LESS CHANCE OF INJURY
You come in dripping sweat after cardio. Guess what? its monday. So its gotta be Chest day right? So, you rack a couple of plates, let a huge grunt and you try maxing out on your bench press after an intense cardio session. You un-rack the bar and the next thing you know, it comes down crashing on your chest. Oh snap! Why? Because you barely have the energy. Your “stabilizer and assistance muscles” which helps you with the bench press are already fatigued by doing your cardio first. By tiring these stabilizer and assistance muscles before performing heavy strength training, you risk the chance of completing an exercise incorrectly or with improper form.
So much for grunting..
4. GREATER AFTER-BURN EFFECT
The workout that causes the largest “after-burn” will be the most effective for fat loss because you will not only burn calories during your workout, but also for up to 48 hours afterwards.
(After-burn effect: After-burn effect is the calorie burn AFTER exercise. The more intense the exercise, the greater the after-burn effect. An intense resistance training workout can create a very large after-burn effect.
5. WEIGHTS BEATS CARDIO HANDS DOWN!
But, when it comes to analyzing the percentage weight loss that’s comprised of fat versus lean tissue like muscle, weights have cardio beat overall.
All said and done, at the end of the day, people that are familiar with cardiovascular exercise will seem less intimidating to start with cardio than weight training. I wouldn’t say no to that, because the best fat loss plan is the one you will stick to and that continues to produce results. Depending on your goal, you may want to choose one type of exercise over the other. Of course, you could alternate days and avoid the question entirely.