Personal trainers and gym professionals are hear this question nearly every day – if you’re looking to do a fully workout including cardio and strength where is best to start? The answer is often dependent on individual preferences but there are other factors to take into account.
There are arguments on both sides of the fence. Starting with cardio, especially aerobic cardio, will get your body warmed up for weight lifting and give you a boost to even perform a little better in your strength workout. If one of your key fitness goals is calorie burning or cardio related than they really should come first.
Weight lifting however follows a specific logical order, beginning with the most heavy, technical lifts when you’re at your freshest. On this basis it would make sense to begin with weight lifting before cardio as you may find yourself able to lift more, especially if you’re planning an intensive cardio session. Experts tend to believe that your cardio is less likely to suffer from a heavy weight lifting session than the other way around.
The majority of athletes and gym fans however just have a routine – they simply do it the way they like to do it and play it by ear. This may result in a more satisfying workout but may not get the best results.
A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research took two groups and had them exercise in cardio-strength and strength-cardio order separately. The results showed a slight trend towards better results for the cardio first group but it wasn’t enough to be considered conclusive.
This is one of those instances where you’ve just got to go with your gut. Science doesn’t have the answer so go with your intuition to reach your personal goals.
One thing's for sure though. You need to do both to keep in top condition!
I'm really into my cardio but fear I neglect the strength aspect of things. I know that as a runner, it's really important to keep a strong core and circuits really helps with this, but unfortunately I don't take my own advice that often
I'm in the minority - I only strength train at the gym but then I run home which is about 5k so I reckon I'm getting my fair share of cardio done too.
that's interesting, I didn't know that weight lifters started with the heavy stuff first. Doesn't that mean a big warm up is required?
It's cardio-strength for me, and I'm pleased to see a study confirming that even if results weren't conclusive. It just makes sense to me to warm up my body with a bit of cardio before I get to the serious muscle work.
It seems really simplistic to divide exercise into cardio versus strength. What about stretching and balance work? If we're going to look after our bodies properly, we need to adopt a holistic perspective.
I don't know anyone who does strength first. Unless they're doing just a strength workout without anything else. Cardio first feels more natural to do first because it's faster. Then you do the slower lifting and stretching afterwards. But really - surely it's just individual choice?? Just be pleased you've managed to do both, whichever way round you do them!
I definitely prefer doing cardio first. They can do all the science studies they like but what it comes down to is which feels best for me. I like to get warm first. I enjoy my strength a lot more when I know I've done my cardio too (which I don't like as much)