Cardio, Weights, Weights, Cardio, Weights….

Since my focus on strength training has been amplified lately, I’ve had to make some decisions and changes to make strength training have a nice fit in my workout schedule. As I’ve explained in a couple recent posts, I do three days of strength training. However, you might agree with me that fitting in a solid strength-training routine can be quite a feat.

In my opinion, the biggest dilemma occurs when one can’t dedicate separate days for cardio and separate days for strength training. This happens a lot when one prefers to do cardio during every workout, or when they can only dedicate a few days a week to working out.

I work out 6 days a week, which allows me to squeeze in two days of focusing solely on strength training. I don’t do cardio on these days (besides the warm up and cool down.) I have three days for all out cardio on separate days (usually running.) But on the other strength training day, I need to do cardio too. That leads me to the big debate: Cardio first or weights first?

Note: The below opinion is just that – my opinion. It’s just what works best for me. Although I’ve done research on the topic, I’m not a professional on the topic!

In my opinion, if you need to do both weights and cardio in the same sweat session, then weights should take up the first half of your workout. Now obviously there are exceptions, such as if someone’s training for a race, and wants to devote as much energy to accomplishing that as possible. Depending on your fitness goals, your mileage may vary, however, in general, this is the rule I follow when trying to achieve balance. Again, this is what works best for me

If I use up most of my energy first on a treadmill or elliptical machine, my form suffers during strength training. However if I do weights first, I still have enough energy to get through a moderate intensity cardio workout afterwards. Moreover, when I have poor form, I am much more prone to injury. I’m all about safety and not getting injured, and I’ve noticed I’m much more fatigued trying to lift weights after a cardio session.

Additionally, if I feel fatigued, I know I won’t be able to lift what I’m capable of. And if I’m lifting, it’s safe to assume I’m trying to get stronger, and if I’m not even lifting what I’m able to, this wouldn’t be much of a help.

Lastly, weight lifting eats up glycogen stores, so by doing cardio after, you could get a better workout burn-wise. After zapping glycogen stores, you’re more likely to burn off fat instead. (Note that I put this reason last, and yes, it’s because I think the first two hold more importance – much more.) Also, I understand there’s research that backs up both ways, but this is what has been working for me. (Have I said that yet? :-P)

Ideally, there would be 8 days in a week, and we could all do our cardio and weights on separate days. However, in reality, we’re all busy with scheduleds packed to the max. Depending on your fitness goals, you could choose to do cardio first, weight first, separate days, or even not at all! Do you have a routine you follow dealing with getting in both cardio and weights?

What method best for you?

Speaking of both cardio and strength-training, have you tried any Jillian Michaels’ DVD’s? Completely Delicious Life is having a giveaway for her book, “Making the Cut.” Check it out!

Plus, to recover from those hard workouts, Erica is giving away Mix-1 drinks.

I hope everyone’s having a great day! I’m excited because I see Indian food in my future. Thinking about getting Baigan Bharta this time, but we shall see 🙂


10 Responses

  1. I've read the same thing about how you should do weights first, then cardio! It doesn't always end up happening that way for me (sometimes the weights end up being spur of the moment after I've already done cardio) but I try to give it my best 🙂

  2. I also have done weights first. You have much better form and can lift heavier weights. If you have an intense cardio session, the weights lag for sure!

  3. I really need to add more weights to my routine!! Its so good for your bones 🙂 Maybe I'll start the weights before now!

  4. Yep, a trainer I once had told me I should do a quick cardio warm up (like no more than 10 min on the eliptical) and then weights before running. One of these days I'll find a way to fit strength training into my routine :\

  5. I always do my strength training second, mainly because I'm one of those people who needs to do cardio everyday and if I get that out of the way, I focus better on my strength training. Also, I like to get my heart rate up first, but I guess a quick warm up would do that too! You've definitely made me think more into it though!

  6. I've head that it's better to do weights first, but I always prefer running first because I HATE lifting weights…

  7. When I am doing split workouts… I definitely do my weights first! I tire out if I do cardio first and want to be DONE with my work out at that point.

    I'm not a big cardio fan… I'd much rather lift weights any day! But I know how important it is… so I get it in, too.

    I really only have one day that I do strength training alone… but I do them along with cardio at least two other times in the week!

  8. Great post! I know everyone has different preferences, but a lot of what you've laid out here makes good sense, and I think we can all apply it at least a little bit. Now, if only I could motivate myself to strength train on my own…!

  9. I do cardio first and then do weights. I make sure I don't do too much cardio though, or I will be tired and not able to do strength full out.

  10. Christina- I understand what you mean. It's all about priorities and personal goals!

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