It is no secret that the key to getting a fit physique and reaching optimal health is to engage in both cardio and strength training.
If you are short on time and need to get both your cardio and your strength training in during one workout session, you may be wondering which one you should do first.
According to most experts, it is best to do strength training before engaging in cardio such as on ellipticals, treadmills or indoor cycles.
Read on to learn why.
Getting the Most from Your Strength Training Workout
Several studies have been conducted in order to determine if it is best to do cardio or strength training first in a workout. According to a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which considered strength training alone, running then strength and cycling followed by strength, exercisers did fewer weight training reps when they ran or cycled beforehand when compared to those who did strength training without cardio beforehand.
Another study found similar results. In addition to doing fewer reps, those who did cardio beforehand had less muscle power when they engaged in strength training. Those who engaged in cardio beforehand also had a perceived increase in exertion when the engaged in their strength training exercises. In short, those who complete their resistance training before engaging in cardio training tend to feel stronger than those who do cardio first.
The Physiology of Muscles
Interestingly, additional research has found that engaging in aerobic training prior to strength training can have a negative effect on strength development. This is because physiological changes occur in those muscles that help you move. When those muscle fibers become fatigued before your strength workout, your form and drive are likely to suffer.
Of course, all people are different and some may find that getting the cardio out of the way first is a better solution. If this feels best to you, there is nothing to say that you cannot do your cardio before you engage in strength training. Another option is to develop an interval program that mixes cardio with strength training. Or if you are really concerned about one type of exercise taking away from the other, consider simply doing your cardio and your strength training on different days.
When it comes to fighting fat, both anaerobic workouts and resistance exercises are essential. By increasing muscle mass, you also increase your metabolic rate. In turn, this helps you burn fat faster. Research has demonstrated that doing both strength and cardio exercises helps to decrease body fat at a significantly faster rate than doing each method alone. Therefore, if you want to lose weight, your best option is to engage in both cardio and strength training exercises.
A general rule of thumb to keep in mind is that strength training helps to change your shape while cardio helps to change your size. Furthermore, while resistance training increases your strength, cardio exercises help to improve your heart health and cardio endurance.