Which Comes First, Cardio or Strength Training?

This is a question I get asked fairly often. Clients and friends, especially fitness newcomers, want to know whether they should do cardio first, strength-training first or whatever the heck they feel like. Apparently, this is a common question for all fitness professionals.

fitness tips - cardio and stength training 2

I spied this article this morning in Huffington Post’s Healthy Living section. It’s called “Cardio or Weights First? Sometimes Exercise Order Matters” and it’s actually a response to a reader’s question.

‘This question is one of the biggest questions on people’s minds when they go to the gym,’ says personal trainer and HuffPost blogger Jeff Halevy. For those who are seeking weight loss, cardio should come first, but if gaining muscle mass is the goal, it’s time to hit the weight room first. But why?”

Why indeed? Well, here’s the answer.

As I’ve posted here before, doing cardio before a strentgth-training workout can cause muscle fatigue before you’re actually ready for it.

‘Doing cardio first will induce fatigue that may compromise technique and possibly increase risk of injury,’ explains Fabio Comana, director of Continuing Education for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Exhausting oneself with a big run right before weights and resistance training doesn’t just up the risk of injury, it also means you’ll have less energy to throw into a really good weight training session.”

On the other hand, if your goal is to burn fat and get lean fast, Halevy recommends that you do high-intensity interval training prior to a strength-training workout.

Oh, we like this guy.

If your goal is strictly a lean body — not to be strongest, or most powerful, but achieve maximal leanness — I always recommend implementing high-intensity interval training at the beginning of each workout,” says Halevy.

Doing your cardio first, especially HIIT, uses up your body’s supply of glycogen (the stored form of glucose in muscle cells). Once the glycogen is depleted, your body turns to more important stored supplies, like fat.

So, if your primary goal is to lose fat and get lean, do your cardio first, especially high-intensity interval training. If your main goal is to build muscle, do your strength training first.

No matter what your goals are, do both!

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One Response to Which Comes First, Cardio or Strength Training?

  1. Stacy Carlo August 14, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Are you still confused which one comes first? If you have more concerns or questions about cardio and strength training, please post them below.

    - Stacy Carlo

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