Is It Better to do Cardio Before or After Weights

Cardio and strength training are both important for a healthy body. When you make a point to fit both forms of exercise into your day you are giving your body what it needs to become strong and increase endurance. While ideally these two workout types should not be combined allowing for ample rest time in between is not an option for everyone. The good news is you can mix cardio and weight training but which is better first? It depends on a few factors.

Can I Mix Cardio and Weight Training?

Yes, you can mix cardio and strength training. This is the most effective way to reach your goals faster. How you choose to mix cardio and weight training is dependent on your overall goals and how much time you have in the gym.

Combining cardio and weight training allows you to burn more fat and build lean muscle that helps to raise your metabolism. Both cardio and weight training together can give you a full range of benefits including a stronger cardiovascular system, more endurance, and improved fat loss. Doing cardio only without resistance exercises can lead to a loss in muscle mass along with fat leaving you skinny but still out of shape.

If you like following a video based training program, Lift4 is a popular and very effective workout that I coach women over 40 with. (affiliate link) You are invited to join us by signing up and emailing me at stephanie@fitfoundme.com.

woman doing bodyweight exercises on pink yoga mat

Can You Do Cardio And Weights On The Same Day?

Whether you can do cardio and strength training on the same day really depends on the types of exercise you are doing along with your goals. Lifting weights after a short run to warm-up is a great way to improve your weight training workout but a long run can reduce the energy your body has for weight training both slowing progress and recovery.

For those with a weight loss goal combining cardio and weight training can be highly effective and allow you to drop excess pounds faster than ever. If you are aiming to build muscle or training for a major sporting event then you may benefit more from either splitting the days you are doing cardio and weight training or spacing out the two allowing for ample recovery time between the two workouts on the same day.

How To Effectively Combine Cardio And Strength – 3 Ways

How you combine your cardio and strength training depends on your individual goals. There are a few ways to take advantage of the benefits of both cardio and strength exercises allowing you to customize to fit your time and schedule.

Cardio and strength training in the same workout.

For those with a weight loss goal, this is an option to allow you to make the most of your time in the gym for fast results. Pairing cardio with strength training will reduce the speed of your recovery and reduce your muscle gains while giving your weight loss goals a hand up.

woman on peloton bike doing cardio workout

Cardio and strength on the same day during different workouts

If you want to make the most of both your cardio and your strength training a great option is to do both in the same day but split them up with a 6-hour break between workouts allowing your body time to recover. This recovery time allows you to go harder and eat in a way that allows you to make the most of your goals for fast and effective results. Often you will find athletes splitting workouts for this reason.

Adding in a daily brisk walking plan will help increase fat burn as well as help aid in recovery from strength training.

Cardio and strength on alternate days.

For those looking to gain strength on a casual level and not necessarily for weight loss may find that alternating cardio and strength days gives them the best results for the work and energy they are willing to put into their workouts.

For the average person looking to maintain fitness level or starting out and working to build up fitness after a time of poor health or poor health decisions this is likely the best option for adding both cardio and strength training to your daily routine.

What’s The Best Type Of Cardio To Combine With Weight Training?

The right type of cardio to pair with weight training will be different for each person. The key to truly effective cardio training is to do something that you love doing.

That said, some cardio workouts lend themselves better to pairing with weight training because they do not put as much of a load on the body. When pairing cardio with weight training a good plan is to take advantage of low intensity and low impact forms of cardio.

Good options for pairing with weight training include swimming (swimming workouts), cycling, walking, rowing, running and using an elliptical machine.

Which Is A Better Cardio Workout: Running or Cycling?

Each type of cardio has its benefits. The right cardio for you will get your heart rate up into the fat-burning zone but still, be rather enjoyable. Some forms of cardio burn more calories than others which can be a factor in what is right for you.

Running and cycling are known for bringing fat but running can have a high impact on the legs, knees, and spine making it less than ideal for many people looking to lose weight and get in shape. That said, I know many who love to run and combining the right run with strength training can be very beneficial.

Both will give you an intense workout but cycling (Hate cardio? Cycling could be what you are looking for.) is a better option for allowing your body recovery time though it should be avoided on leg lifting day or you are more likely to slow your progress than taking the day off of cardio.

Is It Better To Do Cardio Before Or After Lifting?

Whether you do cardio before or after weight training depends upon your goals and your body’s health. If you are looking to gain muscle doing cardio before weight training can lead to fatiguing your muscles before their most strenuous activity. This can lead to reduced progress from your weight training regimen and slow muscle recovery. Often when people do their cardio before weight training they find that they feel weaker and can not lift as much as normal.

When should you do cardio before weight training? If you are performing your cardiovascular exercises after fasting to help burn off more body fat you would perform your cardio before lifting weights. If you choose to do this you should pause your workout to eat before weight training. Your muscles need calories including protein and carbs to properly perform and weight training should never be done from a fasted state.

woman lifting dumbbells doing bicep exercises

Diabetes with Cardio and Weight Training

For those with diabetes or insulin resistance, there are benefits to doing weights before cardio training. Studies have shown that when someone with diabetes performs cardio before weight training their blood sugar would drop closer to the threshold of too low than when they performed weight training before cardio exercises. Performing weight training before cardiovascular exercises allowed participants to finish their workouts without adverse side effects.

Does Cardio After Weights Affect Muscle Growth?

Yes, performing cardio exercises after weight training can hinder your muscle growth and recovery. This is because your muscles need plenty of rest and nutrition to recover and grow. While 6 hours between lifting and cardio is ideal this is not an option for every gym-goer. If you need to perform cardio after your weight lifting stick to low impact cardio like walking, swimming, or the elliptical.

How Long Should I Do Cardio After Weights?

When lifting weights you are working your muscles to fatigue and you may find a long cardio session is difficult to complete. Your body needs time to recover and gain strength so keep your cardio session after weight training light and short. 30 to 45 minutes can get you a full cardiovascular workout with no need to extend longer. Do not forget as soon as you finish your workout you should drink a protein shake (affiliate link – this is a great quality and good tasting protein shake) to help aid in your recovery.

woman mixing post workout protein shake in kitchen

Hopefully, you have learned whether it’s better to do cardio first or weights. Whether you plan to do cardio before or after a weight workout, we wish you much workout success.

Remember the key to a successful weight training workout is to feed your muscles and provide ample recovery time. Listen to your body and follow its queues. If you feel dizzy, weak, or find yourself struggling to continue with your workout don’t be afraid to step back and give your body a moment of rest then try things a different way next time.

about stephanie

About Stephanie

Just an everyday stay at home mom who one day decided I didn’t want to become the stereotypical overweight, middle-aged, out of breath, mom anymore. One day at a time, one meal at a time, one workout at a time and I became the athlete I never knew existed. Read more...

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