Is it better to do cardio first or weights during a training session? What is the ideal order? Well, it really depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Whichever discipline we do first is where we will have the greater intensity, so if you want to get more out of your cardio session, then do that first, otherwise you can fatigue very quickly doing weights leaving you spent for the fat burning part.
Fat Loss – studies have shown that doing resistance exercise first will deplete blood glucose and muscle glycogen, meaning you will tap into your fat stores a lot faster when your cardio phase begins. Having said that, if the cardio work is where the majority of the fat is going to be burned, then maybe you want to be at your highest energy levels for that. The good news is that if you’re doing both in your training session, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to burn fat either way.
Strength and/or Muscle Growth – If you’re looking to lift more then doing weights after a long warm up is the way to go. Cardio sessions for strength are usually short & intense, and for muscle growth, a long, slow duration, so either way you can do this after your weights without wrecking your results.
Speed – primarily a fast twitch pursuit, a power weight session can be the perfect preparation for short, max efforts of speed. Your legs will feel light on a running track compared to 100kg squat, and even if they are a bit shaky, “dead leg sprints” can be a great way to teach your body to work when exhausted. Stretching between sessions is the most important factor here as this type of ballistic work can be extremely taxing on your muscles.
Personal Preference – the simple fact of the matter is that whichever of cardio and weights you enjoy dong the most is the one you’re probably going to start with. I know muscled up guys who swear by doing their cardio first, likewise some runners would rather do their weights first, as they feel they have to work harder on their run.
Let’s be honest. Unless you are training for a specific event then it doesn’t really matter what comes first, so long as they both feature in a workout session.
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