Be Strong. Be Fit.


 
 

Cardio Before or After Weight Training?

October 18th, 2007 · 26 Comments ·
 
 

holding-dumbbell-with-right-hand.JPG

When I first started working out, I had this question in my mind – Should I do cardiovascular exercise before or after my resistance training?

Some said I should do it before the weight lifting because it helps to warm up my body. Another school of thought believes that, in order to lift heavier weight, I should conserve the energy and therefore, cardiovascular exercise should only be done after that.

After talking to different personal trainers and based on my experience, I have summarized pro and con of each approach – why before and why after weight training?

rpm-cardio.jpg

1) Why Before Weight Training?

  • If you are trying to get your weights and cardiovascular exercise done in one session, doing a light cardio for muscle warm-up will actually encourages you to move right into high-intensity lifting without having to do as many warm-up sets.
  • Also, if you are training for an endurance competitions like half-marathon or triathlon, you should do cardio before any other workout. That way, you use the most energy and effort into the session to produce optimal performance results.

running-on-treadmills.jpg

2) Why After Training Weight Training?

  • Once the cardio is done, the quality of your lifting will most likely suffer. Your energy sources may be used up. Since you reap the most benefit from the last two or three reps of weight lifting, it is essential that you have the necessary energy to achieve those reps. That fuel may not be available if you do a hard cardio workout prior to your weight training. Consistently training in a weakened state actually lead to decrease in strength over time because it discourages your muscles from being adequately challenged. Cardio burns fat and carbs. If you do your cardio first, the carbs may not be there to fuel your weight training. So, if you want to build muscle, you should do weight training first.
  • Also, another reason some people believe in – after doing strength training and when it is stopped abruptly, blood tends to accumulate in the lower body. With reduced blood return, cardiac output decreases and lightheadedness may occur. Because muscle movement helps to get the blood back to the heart, it is good to continue some muscle activity. Easy cycling, walking, or any other cardiovascular exercise at low intensity will be recommended as cool-down activity after weight training.

bench-press-with-lady-as-spotter.jpg

So How?
No right or wrong. If you are at the stage of bulking up (as I do now), do the cardio after the workout. Otherwise when you are at the so called cutting or toning phase, you can do your cardiovascular exercise as a warm up before you hit the irons.

If you want to build muscles yet prefer to do cardio first, the other option will be replace the used fuel with a sports drink or energy bar before you start the weights training.

Last but not least, that is another school of thought – doing cardio and weight training on separate days. I have not tried this method before and I would like hear from you if you ever do so.

girl-doing-bicep-curl.JPG

In conclusion, cardiovascular exercise is required, not matter what. It is good to build the stamina and burn the fat. Do not get too hung up on this whole idea. Change the order to suit you occasionally. Doing cardio or after weight training is not a theory or a new law. If you feel good doing cardio before lifting weight and if you progress well, just do it.


Share-It.jpg
 
 

Email This Post Email This Post

Category: Weight Training


If you like this or other articles in this blog, Subscribe to MunFitnessBlog.com today. It is free.
Scroll down to leave a comment. I really want to know what you think.
 
Found what you were looking for? If not, try searching for it below.  
Custom Search
 
26 responses so far ↓
  • Lisan // Oct 18, 2007 at 12:57 AM

    Hi, I’d been reading your fitness blog for sometime. I came to know it through PPS. Thanks for the informative materials. I learn a lot from it.

    I’m also a fan to fitness. My goal is more towards burning fat, calories and carbs. Therefore I do at least 45-55 minutes of cardio (exclude 10 minutes warm up) and 20-30 minutes of resistant and abs crunches, by that time I’m already tired. Usually my abs crunches exercise suffered coz I’ll always leave it last as it’s very difficult!

    I have a question: I’d a friend who told me:

    “fat burning only happens after 20 minutes of exercise so don’t waste up all energy in the first 20 minutes.”

    I’m wondering is that true? Since then I spit my resistant training into half. I do resistant after 10 minutes warming up. Then back to cardio, then back to resistant after cardio. Sometimes I do a switch as people told me muscle can get use to routines so do switch to do something different once awhile. Is it true?

    I just want to tone up muscles. Burning up calories are more important to me, so I guess it’s a good idea to start off with cardio 1st and use my effort to maximum in cardiovascular exercises?

  • Angie Tan // Oct 18, 2007 at 9:18 AM

    Interesting…

    Yep, I’m in the school of thought of doing cardio, weight training and light cardio after that. (^ ^)

    Somehow, if I am pressed for time, I’ll do light cardio first, weight training and then more intense cardio after. Aside from the fact that I’ll be dead tired after all that, would it be good?

  • Elvina // Oct 18, 2007 at 9:29 AM

    I’ve tried doin weight training first, that is, go for my body pump class… and after that go for cardio, for example, bodystep class. My performance was not tat good as I dun feel I have enough energy during the pump class (although I did warm-up). But if I do cardio follow by weight training, it was much better. I think it’s up to individual. You need to find out what’s best for your body to maximise your workout … =)

  • Simon Paul // Oct 18, 2007 at 5:21 PM

    Hmm. I’ve tried all three different type of training. Tried and true, I believed that different workout school are based on our own priority. Don’t forget your priority, and keep your workout in moderation, meaning that you shouldn’t strain too much on weight lifting alone if you want to do cardios for fat burning.

    I would choose to do weight lifting first, since that building strong muscle is my main priority, only then I’ll finish the workout with 40mins to 60mins of light cardio. If I know that I’m energetic enough or I’m on supplements, I’ll go for a quick 20mins of really high intensity cardio. In addition to the differences between high intensity and low intensity workout, a survey made in the States and resulted that higher intensity workouts will benefit more than lower intensity workouts. I have tried, and believe me, hard work is the real deal here.

    I’ve done three different cardio for 60mins on one day, just to find out the best solution of how my body works. I started with fast-paced walking for 5mins, then continued with running for 15mins, cycling for another 15, a fast-paced cycling for the next 5mins and cross-running for the remaining 20. Then I realized that I have low stamina, so I’ll workout on swimming (Swimming is a good deal to keep fit and burn fat, since you workout every inch of your muscles) or a short-time-high-intensity cardio.

    I do know that I have part of the strength of a bull, so I’ll go for higher intensity on lifting weights.

    It’s true as what Lisan’s friend said about fat burning, but you must know this; the moment your heartbeat increases, fat burning is already at work. Chemicals are released from our fat, muscles and organs, as hormones are released into our bloodstream to help us workout our body. So back to the basic. It depends how high the level of intensity of workout that you’re on. If you start with higher intensity, the chemicals and hormones works better, if you start on lower intensity, then it’ll take a longer time to come to the same result.

    Metabolism ratio also plays a big role when it comes to fat burning or having the bull’s energy during workout. Scientists in Canada made a successful research that fat does help you a lot since it is part of the energy fuel to boost your metabolism rate. Hence, use up that good stock of energy for your muscle to do a great deal of high intensity workout in a shorter period of time. It doesn’t matter what workout, lifting weights or cardio.

    I would also want to share a good sense of my results in bulking up my legs, yet I don’t do focus on leg muscles at all. We tend to use up more energy from our legs while doing cardiovascular workouts, as our muscles on our legs works out it’s best. I’ve been working out through high intensity cardios, and to my amazements, my legs has only less than 10% of fats, let alone that I’ve seen improvements as to the growth of the muscles of my calf and my thighs.

    So it’s all down to the basic, so these are my priorities :-

    [For priorities on my muscles]

    If I’m less energetic and I want to focus on my muscles, I would do a long-period-low-intensity weight lifting. If I’m energetic, I’ll do both a short-time-high-intensity weight lifting and finish it off with a short-time-high-intensity cardio.

    [For priorities on fat-burning]

    If I’m less energetic I’ll choose the short-time-high-intensity weight lifting alone. Get to know this, higher intensity workouts works better as the chemicals and hormones released into our bloodstream works better than lower intensity workouts itself. This is for real. It’s the same theory if you want to earn more money, then you have to work harder. If you want to work smarter, learn about your bodily functions and learn about good, healthy diets and supplements that gives you a positive side-effects.

    For those of you who are into fitness, bodybuilding & fat-burning, I would like to suggest that you get the latest copy of MUSCLE DEVELOPMENT. It’s one hell of the best and thickest magazine in the market, and you’ll definitely find the best answers if you’re in doubts, concerning of how bodily chemical & hormones works to the art of muscle building. This magazine also helps you to motivate yourself, as you’ll definitely find answers of what you’re looking for. And for those of you who are about to learn what this blog is about, read up the stuffs as what we have to say here in Mun’s Fitness Blog, for without him, you wouldn’t have us sharing our greatest experiences here, which I think, in due time, is invaluable. Thanks to Mun, I’ve been doing my part here. :)

  • Mun // Oct 18, 2007 at 10:42 PM

    Hi Lisan – Thanks for being a regular here. For a better result to burn fat, cardiovascular exercise supposedly to be performed within a zone of heart rates. But, let’s not go into that for now. In fact, I don’t really buy into your friend’s theory – fat burning only happens after 20 minutes of exercise. Many have made thing complicated, including the idea of doing cardio only early in the morning with empty stomach. I prefer to look at this fat burning issue at a bigger picture. As long as you run, jog, swim or cycle, you are doing something good for your body. When we exercise, our hearts beat faster and we definitely burn fat, just a matter of the percentage, whether the calories from fat or from other sources. Continue with your resistance training as muscles increase metabolism rate which is good in fat burning too.

    Hi Angie – Good to see your comments again. If you are at the stage of losing weight, what you are doing is pretty good. However, as each individual is different, the better way is to judge the result based on body weight and body fat. Not to worry about the sequence and I am glad that you have incorporated weight training into your workout routine.

    Hi Elvina – Thanks for sharing your experience. Not bad, you have the stamina to join two fitness classes in a row. :o) Depending on situation, I just worry that you may be losing muscles in your second class. Again, check your body fat after sometimes to make sure you are on the right track. However, if you have been doing this for some time and nothing is wrong, then keep it going.

    And Simon – Thanks for sharing your experience too. It is indeed good to hear from you and learn from you. Keep your comments coming, man!

  • Ronald Soo // Oct 21, 2007 at 12:27 PM

    As i had been following with my Spinning Instructor Mr Alex class for almost 2 months, i manage to burnt 2.5″ of belly fat… and still continuing to burn…

    But weight never drop… According to Mr Alex, if you want better result, it is best that you combine weight training with Cardio…

    As at the end of the day, we want to have defined muscle rather than bulky muscle all cover up with fat, that most people use to show off in the gym have nowadays…

    Cardio and Weight can be done on separate time not necessary a must to do both at the same time… Most important is your focus, WHEN YOU TRAIN YOUR CHEST, you don’t move your eyes around the gym while listing, as at the end of the day you will ended up training other stuff than your CHEST for example.

  • Simon Paul // Oct 21, 2007 at 1:41 PM

    Totally agreed with Ronald. Determination and focus are the keys to successful goals. Other than that, it’s really just a waste of time. No pain, no gain… no suffering no success!

  • Lauren // Dec 19, 2007 at 4:51 AM

    Hi Mun, I know this post was a while ago but was just searching through your archives and had to comment. By the way me and a couple of my friends find your blog a very interesting read!!

    I commented on your most recent post and forgot to mention I am a personal trainer. I noticed your conclusion on building muscle and the reason you do cardio after. I understand your pro’s and cons, and they are right. But you missed one. There is a thing called interference in regards to training. Basically your body will want to do its thing based on the last stimulus you give it. If you do weights firsts, yes you may be able to lift a little more, but research shows that cardio training pre weights really doesn’t affect your ability to lift. By doing cardio after weights, your muscles, hormones, enzymes and all muscle building properties want to get the benefits of cardio…they want to create more oxygen carrying capacity and your slow twitch fibers will be firing. This is leaving you with the exact stimulus you don’t want, and hence can ‘interfere’ with the hard work done previously on the weights.

    I must stress though, its a tough one, interference isn’t going to be huge (ie you will still get the benefits from the weights, for sure) and it generally applies to athletes training (its also a fairly new concept). This is the reason most athletes will do weights in the morning then their team sport or other workout later in the day. To avoid this affect.

    Something for you to chew on anyway, great post…I am going to do a similar one soonish with my views on it! I’ll make sure to link back to yours. Cheers.

  • iqina // Aug 16, 2008 at 12:43 PM

    i’ve been working out over a year…n now i work out 5 times a week…normally around 2hours non-stop. But stil if i push too much…my legs muscle would get sore…in pain that cause me to stop exercising for a while…especially after a high impact body steps class.
    Any suggestion?

  • Andy Bhatti // Aug 24, 2008 at 4:45 AM

    Yes i Agree , I have been a trainer in the past and for clients that came to me for weight loss , I put them on cardio first for 5 to 10 mins before the weight training , and then after the training I put them to another 30 min Cardio .
    The reason is simple , 5 min cardio for the warm up and get things going in the body . 45 mins of weight training that will burn the calories vigorously , and finally 30 min of Cardio for good heat helth and stamina buildup.
    Now everyone’s body is different , so the results are different too . One of my clients lost 30 lbs in 2 months doing the same routine , while the other one only lost 10 lbs.
    So if you are planning to start on something like that , you need to try all approches . For me , personaly , Cardio 1st and Strength training 2nd works the best for staying healthy with lean muscles.

    Thank You

    Andy Bhatti

  • Dick Llewellyn // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:43 PM

    Hi everyone
    I’ve heard it’s best to do cardio first unless you can get a good break between weights and cardio (6 hours?!) This is because when you train with weights your body releases Testostorone which is needed to recove and build muscles. When you do high intensity cardio workout your body releases Cortisone which eats away testostorone and reduces the effects on repairing muscles. I don’t know how true this is, but it’s an interesting theory! I tend to do about 30-40 minutes cardio and and 40-60 minutes resistance traing. I am however fairly new to all this, so my routine will hopefully develope and change over time. Particularly as I start to do more compound exercises rather than using the machines at the moment.

  • Dirk // Feb 18, 2009 at 6:32 PM

    Hey…I jus got out of school and started varsity now. My main goal is to play rugby, I did prety good in my school team an was in good shape, how ever i got realy unfit over the holidays and need to get in shape for the trails. What i want to ask you is if its possiblle to do my cardio in the morning and my wieght training in the afternoon.

  • jason // Jul 4, 2009 at 1:22 PM

    i’ve never done resistance first, then cardio second. maily because i like the tall lean cut with just a little bulk look. but just hearing it makes perfect sense. my trainer always told me the point of cardio first was to get the heart going and then you keep it at a good productive rate by hitting the irons hard. it never occured to me i was in fact already half outta fuel by the time cardio was over because the results were perfect for me. i look good and i can go hard all day.

  • josh // Jul 24, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    im 220 lbs and losing weight and toning, i run and lift at the same time and it seems to be working, ive lost 25 lbs in 2 months. i run a qrt mile then lift then qrt mile then lift until im exhausted. i do this 3 or 4 times a week. good luck to all.

  • Jalisa // Aug 7, 2009 at 9:37 AM

    Hello,

    I just joined the gym today. My focus as of right now are my abs (of course lol)…due to prior health issues and many different medications, i have gained more fat around my mid-section than i care to look at. Not to mention I have gained 45 pds over a 4yr span…(all of which needs to come off!!!!!!) Please someone tell me, whats the best way to start with loosing the weight…Should it be cardio & abs first, then weights? Or should I mix it all up? I want to make sure that when I am working out, I am doing the right things to shed pds…Please Someone Help!

  • Jalisa // Aug 7, 2009 at 9:40 AM

    Josh,

    How did you manage to loose so much weight in a month? What did you do? Please share…I am open to all suggestions as i really want & need to loose this unwanted weight!

    Thank you

  • Unknown // Aug 13, 2009 at 9:14 PM

    To lose the mid section I suggest u do cardiovascular for about half an hour and then straight to abs as you will be in fat burning mode, you will greately benefit. then do Weight lifting, Correct me if I am wrong

  • Darren // Oct 12, 2009 at 9:44 PM

    Here is a superb way to tone your abs without any major exercise. Breath out as much as possible then tense your abs and hold for 15 to 20 seconds. You can still breath during the 15 to 20 seconds but keep your abs tense. Do this 15 to 20 times per day and in just three weeks you will notice a big difference. Obviously you need to keep up the cardio by running three times a week for about 30 mins each session. This really does work but like any weight loss and tone up you must count the calories, the fat, the sugar and the carbs. Know your recommended daily levels and target 20% below so for a woman 2000 calories per day down to 1600. By writing down a basic weight loss plan it is really easy. I have lost 25 lbs and am now building good muscle and best of all I have lost my belly and the abs are showing…cool!…one happy chappy!

  • Jason // Oct 28, 2009 at 5:17 AM

    Do 45 mins. of spinning 3 times a week and eat sensibly and watch the lbs. come off.

  • Clint // Dec 16, 2009 at 2:17 PM

    I typically job jog 1 and 1/2 miles before I hit the weights. I’ve done martial arts for quite awhile, and I like the aspect of making myself get tougher by challenging my body. I jog with the intention of making myself fatigued and than lifting to my fullest potential, just to basically beat myself up :) and the endorphin release is great for frame of mind. After my lifting session I consume Whey Protein and typically eat dinner shortly after that for recovery. My brother in law works for Nautilus, and he mentioned to me when I asked him that there was no conclusive evidence as to what is more effective, doing cardio before or after, just as long as you’re doing it. Correct me if i’m wrong guys i’m looking for feedback from some cool peeps. Take care everyone, and happy holidays.

  • dani // Feb 1, 2010 at 12:56 AM

    i was always advised to do weight lifting first coz that uses ur immediate glucose/glycagon stores, and then by the time u do cardio u are more likely to be burning fat coz ur glycagon stores will be almost depleted…course it depends on how heavy ur weights are n how long ur session is.

  • Clint // Feb 1, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    Thanks for the feedback Dani. Some other lifters i’ve talked with have also said that running or doing cardio afterwards also helps with lactic acid depletion. Do you guys know the average protein intake an individual should consume during the day? I heard it was about .5 grams per lb or something along those lines. I’m 5’9, 240lbs. The Whey Protein I consume has 52 grams in it. I consume that once a day after lifting hard. I just want to make sure i’m not consuming to much, i’ve heard that can have negative effects on your liver. Mind you i’m not protein stacking, just consume one shake after lifting and eat regularly.

  • Ronnie D // Mar 16, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    You only keep a pound of glycogen stores at a time. Solid Cardio for 40 min only depletes 3 oz of stores. The weight lifting for 45 min (plenty for most everyone) will deplete 10 oz. So cardio does NOT deplete your glycogen stores. If you are training for strength, not bulk, avoid same day sessions unless you do cardio in the morning at weights at night.

    Also, why would you want to get into an aerobic state right when your testosterone wants protein and carbs to get into repair mode. Instead it has to wait til you oxidize the muscles through cardio.

    I say before or just do two sessions on the days you dont lift (assuming you lift 3-4 times a week, which would be the most you would want to do)

  • Clint // Mar 16, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Hey Ronnie, so doing 20 or 30 minutes of Cardio before lifting is actually ok? Only reason I do same day sessions is I usually lift upper body one day, lower body the next, and thats Sunday-Wednesday, so i’m lifting everyday in my workout schedule. Thursday-Sat i’m usually busy with work/family, so I try and fit a balanced routine in during the week. Thanks for the help by the way, I always enjoy learning new stuff about physical fitness.

  • CJ // Dec 4, 2011 at 2:18 AM

    Hey, I wondering if my schedule would be good for losing weight and gaining muscle. I will go to the gym for about an hour and a half just lifting weights. Then ill go home drink a protein shake and eat dinner. After I let my food set for about an hour I will do a session of about 45 minutes of cardio. Would this routine help me be able to lose weight and gain muscle?

  • Jacob // Sep 14, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    I am in a weightlifting class at my highschool and I was wondering if I got run at 6 o’clock before school then go to a class for a hour then go to weight class if that would have negative effects on my muscle building?

Leave a Comment