At the gym last week, the training manager who always gives me tips and new workouts asked me why I do my cardio before I weight train.
I explained that I hate cardio and if I don’t do it beforehand, chances are that I probably wont do it. Some cardio is better than none, right?
Now, I studied Exercise Science as my minor in college. I knew it was better to do my cardio before, but I couldn’t remember why, so I decided to refresh my memory and look it up.
I asked Gymboy and also did some of my own research. While the complicated answer to the question of cardio or weight training first is, “it depends” most fitness experts recommend doing cardio after weights.
The main reason experts recommend cardio AFTER weights is because cardio uses up much of your energy you will need for your anaerobic training (Cardio is aerobic and weight training is anaerobic). This was the most common answer I found. When doing cardio first, your glycogen levels are depleted. When your glycogen levels are low, your energy level goes down and your weight lifting routine is compromised. Simply put- you can’t work as hard or have as an effective weight training session.
The same school of thought says weight raining first will deplete the muscles’ stored carboyhdrates (glycogen and sugar) and therefore will enhance fat burning during cardio, due to lack of fuel. Makes sense to me!
If like me, you HATE cardio, might I recommend circuit training? Incorporate cardio into your weight routine by doing something aerobic in between sets, or go from one set to another with little rest. Keep your heart rate up through out your workout session. My last leg session my heart rate was 170+ almost the entire time, so I opted out for cardio that day. It’s a nice little gym cheat!
Now go get your sweat on!
Resources: Military.com and BuiltLean.com