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Should you do weights or cardio first in your workout?

Posted by on Dec. 17, 2013 at 5:44 AM
  • 8 Replies
1 mom liked this

Which Should I Do First: Cardio or Strength Training?

Find out if your workout order matters


The question: Should I start my workout with strength or cardio?

The expert: Exercise physiologist Marta Montenegro, CSCS, SFN, NSCA-CPT

The answer: Where to begin? For most women, the right answer is at the weight racks.

See, when it comes to slimming down and shaping up, strength training and cardio work best in that order. Here's why: When you start your workout with weights, by the time you get to the treadmill or bike your anaerobic energy systems will already be tapped out, meaning your body will have to resort to burning fat to keep your aerobic system going strong, Montenegro says. That means more calories burned, not just in the gym, but after your cool-down, too. 

MORE: What's Best for Weight Loss: Cardio or Strength Training?

Also (and this should be common sense), but if you log your miles and then try to do squats, those squats are likely to be weak and sloppy, she says, neither of which makes for eye-popping results.

Still, there are reasons to make a beeline toward your fave cardio machine as soon as you set foot in the gym—like if you're training for a half-marathon. In general, it's best to prioritize whatever's your goal, be it endurance, strength, or even toning a certain muscle group. In fact, one study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that whichever muscle you train first reaps the biggest benefits. 

by on Dec. 17, 2013 at 5:44 AM
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Replies (1-8):
by *Ada* on Dec. 17, 2013 at 1:13 PM
I spilt my cardio and lifting for this reason. Good sharing.
by Suzanne on Dec. 17, 2013 at 1:40 PM

Good article!  I generally will do about 10-15 minutes of cardio just to get warmed up, often split between two machines to work different muscle groups and not fatigue any one thing, but then focus on the weights!


"Don't sacrifice what you want most for what you want right now."

by on Dec. 17, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Nice article. My trainer always says to start with 10 minutes or so of cardio to warm up, then do my strength routine, then finish with 20-30 minutes more of cardio, and this is what I do.

by on Dec. 17, 2013 at 11:51 PM
Yup. I agree. Weight first then cardio. I got great results. And I have done the treadmill first then weights and my legs were quite sloppy...jelly like even. I really had to focus and set my mind on squatting twice as hard.
Good article!
by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:28 AM

I always do weights first, IF I'm doing cardio. I'd rather have bad running form for a few minutes, than to throw out my back deadlifting because I am too tired from running.

I get better results from lifting than I do cardio, anyways.

WAY better lol

by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:43 AM

I always do 30 minutes on the cross trainer, then an hour or so of weights, then 15-20 minutes more of cardio.

by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:57 AM

I always like to do some stretching first, then about 10-15 min on the elliptical or treadmill and then onto weights. Whenever I have time; I do like to finish with 10-15 min cardio and some stretching. :)

by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 7:29 PM
I've always done 30-60min cardio first then 45-90min of weight training , works for me .
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