Cardio or Weights First?

First things first, what is your goal for the session/overall goal? If your goal is cardio related, then get your cardio in first. If it is strength related, then get your weights done first. Furthermore, if you want to get faster, do cardio first. If you want lose weight, get strength done first. If you want to improve balance do either first and if you exercise just to stay fit and healthy – do whatever you want to first. Think about it logically, if you’re a videographer and your day consists of either a videography course or learning French, for the sake of your career, you’d choose to progress and learn more about your videography compared to learning French. The latter would take a back seat in terms of reaching career goals… The same goes for fitness goals, therefore, train relative to the goals you’re trying to reach.

A study (WSC University) found that doing weights first resulted in a more elevated heart rate when completing the cardio section of the workout later on. Which means a bigger calorie burn for when you get to your cardio. Completing the weights first means you’d have had more energy while lifting, this increases your metabolic lean muscle mass… The study also found that the weight when lifting first was roughly 20% higher through the session. So, if you’re looking to increase strength, gain muscle, tone up, then studies show that completing weights first may be more beneficial.

If you are an athlete or training for an event, the type of training, frequency and intensity is very important. It is probably best to split into separate sessions either morning and afternoon/evening session OR different days. This way the body can recover to its best before hitting another big session or different type of demand. Research from the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that whichever muscle was worked out first, saw the most benefit. If you’re a footballer, training legs and core before uppers would be wise due to the demands on the body of the lower body and core during training and games. If you’re a basketball player, integrating more upper body and core work may be more valuable than doing the same programme as a footballer. Ordering/prioritising exercises in your workout will help you reach your goal effectively.

Ultimately, the choice is yours – if you have a routine that you enjoy, stick to it. Especially if you’re happy with the results. If you want to reap some performance or physical/aesthetic changes then look a bit further into whether completing weights or cardio first. Learn to adjust your sessions based on fatigue, time available, frequency of training and recovery time!

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