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Cardio then weights....or weights then cardio? And why? :)

Wed. Feb 27, 7:55am

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Hmmm...Here's what I've done and here's what I've heard...

I've always heard weights before cardio. Don't quote me, but I have it in my head that it's because you don't want to tire muscles before you work them with weights so that you can max out the benefit. That said, before I had my baby recently, I dropped the pounds and got to my goal weight pretty easily doing cardio before my weights.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008, 8:47 AM

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For the average person, it doesn't really matter. Do what feels best to you.

Scientifically though, or for high-intensity exercisers:
If you're training for an endurance event -- a half-marathon, triathlon, etc. -- you'd do right to put cardio before any other workout. That way, you pour the most energy and effort into the session to produce optimal performance results.

Or you might want to do cardio before your weight workout for the warm-up effect. "If the cardio workout is light, it can serve to warm up the muscles, which in turn encourages you to move right into high-intensity lifting without having to do as many warm-up sets," Olson explains.

On the flip side, if shaping the body of your dreams is your main objective, you may want to save cardio for after your weight workout. "An intense cardio workout will take away from an effective weight-training workout," Olson says. "Cardio burns both fat and carbs, and those carbs won't be available for weight training if you do cardio first. That's a problem since they're the key source of energy for weight training; you may not be able to lift at a beneficial intensity."

You can also burn more fat by increasing your lean mass, which eats up calories all day long. So for building a little muscle, weight training should take priority in your workout. This way, your energy level will be high and your intensity won't suffer during the part of your program that matters most to you. You may not be able to work at the same intensity if you do cardio after weights -- especially on leg day -- but you might tap into fat stores more quickly.

Bottom Line
Put cardio first if endurance performance is your main focus. Otherwise, "You'll burn more fat and total calories by doing cardio after weight training," Olson remarks. "But following a high-rep, light-weight, circuit-type program with cardio will burn more total calories from both carbs and fat."


Wednesday, February 27, 2008, 8:54 AM

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I've read that it's best to lift first, when your body isn't tired, because that minimizes the chances of hurting yourself. If you try to lift when you're already tired from cardio, you're more likely to use poor form, etc., and end up hurting yourself.

However, it's good to lift when you're a bit warm, rather than right at the beginning.

So what I've heard recommended is a brief cardio warm-up (5 minutes or so), followed by your weight session, followed by your true cardio session, followed by a cool-down, and then stretching.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008, 11:30 AM

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OP Here...

I tend to do 5 min cardio warm-up, then weights then cardio. I used to train with a trainer who told me to do it this way, and he had a reason that I just don't remember. :) BUT, I tend to see lots of people at the gym who do cardio then weights so I was just curious....

Wednesday, February 27, 2008, 11:50 AM

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I have also found that the overall calorie burning is higher if you do cardio first, because once you have elevated your heart rate, it stays up easier.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008, 4:06 PM

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