Cardio before weights, or weights before cardio? Everyone seems to have a different answer: Your friend swears by doing her cardio workout before hitting the free weights. Your brother says it’s better to do strength training first and then crush your cardio. So how can you decide, once and for all, whether it’s better to do cardio before or after your workout?
The short answer: It depends on your fitness goals. Read on to find the best workout order for your get-fit plans.
Is It Better to Do Cardio Before or After a Strength Workout?
Just like there isn’t one answer to “what is the best workout to do,” the question of whether to do cardio before or after a strength-training workout doesn’t have one clear-cut answer that applies to everyone. Both cardio-first and strength-first methods can provide health benefits — just slightly different benefits.
So while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, there’s a strategy that will work best for you. Whether your main fitness goal is to drop pounds, build muscle, or help your heart, here’s how to decide whether to do cardio before or after your strength workout.
Which Should You Do First — Cardio or Strength?
Bottom line: Both cardio and strength training can burn calories, improve your overall health, and help you lose weight. So whether you prefer to do cardio before or after strength, you’re still going to get a great workout.
It’s true that doing cardio first may fatigue your muscles, and doing strength first may affect your endurance afterward. But unless you’re training for a super-specific goal, your training order ultimately shouldn’t make or break your results.
“For the general population who are just trying to get fitter, more conditioned, or improve body composition, it really doesn’t matter whether you do cardio first or strength training,” says Kurt A. Escobar, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology at California State University, Long Beach and an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. “It just comes down to preference.”
One easy way to navigate the cardio-or-strength-first debate? Do cardio and strength training on different days altogether. While this may mean more total days working out, you’ll also be able to give 100% to each workout without worrying about fatigued muscles, decreased endurance, or one workout sabotaging (even in a small way) the other.