Which should come first – Cardio or Weights?

If your New Year Resolution has you planning to lift more, Run more, or sweat more, chances are, you’re looking to do it in the most efficient and effective way possible. Sure, showing up may be half the battle, but the other half of the battle is made up of hard work, consistency, and training smart.

Whether you’re a seasoned gym-goer or you’re new to fitness, at this point in time the gym is packed. Do you hop on the first free treadmill you see? Or hit the weight room because there’s bound to be a machine or two not in use?

My Question here is:

Does the order of the exercise routine —cardio, weights, abs, flexibility, stretching—really matter?

Absolutely, Yes. A recent study conducted by Dr. Lance Dalleck on various exercise components mentions “If you think about the physiology of training, the sequencing of your workouts matters. But based on individual priorities, the optimal sequence for one person will be different than that for another person.”

Now the next question is

What sequence should you follow?

In order to form a sequence plan, pen down your goal first. If your goal is:

A) To lose weight: Do STRENGTH TRAINING first.

Resistance training builds muscle, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. “Since your resting metabolic rate makes up the majority of your daily caloric energy expenditure, if your goal is weight loss, it makes sense to do that first,” says Dalleck. In one study, 10 weeks of resistance training increased the resting metabolic rate by 7 percent—and reduced fat weight by almost four pounds. Don’t skip cardio altogether, though, as the aerobic portion of your workout will still torch more calories for a minute than the strength training portion will.

B) To get faster: Do CARDIO first.

In this study, Dalleck found that exercisers who did cardio later in the workout had a heart rate 12 beats per minute higher for the exact same workout intensity and duration as those who performed cardio first. In other words, the workout felt harder than it actually was. In another study, sports scientists from James Cook University in Australia reported that even a single strength training session may reduce the performance of endurance athletes—specifically runners and cyclists—for several days after.

C) To get stronger: Do STRENGTH TRAINING first.

That might seem obvious, but the science behind it is interesting. Lifting weights are akin to sprinting—it involves short bursts of extreme effort—and it requires that your muscles use an energy source other than oxygen to perform the exercise. Depending on your fitness level, your muscles (and heart) can only tolerate a set amount of anaerobic training before becoming fatigued. So if you’ve depleted your energy stores during the cardio portion of the workout, you won’t have as much left over to build strength. In one study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, exercisers who ran or cycled before lifting weights performed up to 20 percent fewer repetitions of the exercise—at the significantly reduced weight.

D) To improve your balance: Do EITHER cardio or strength training first.

In this study, Dalleck found that performing neuromuscular or flexibility exercises at the beginning of a workout did not improve participants’ balance or agility. “Because of the overall benefits you get from aerobic exercise and resistance training, it makes sense to push the flexibility and neuromuscular exercise to later,” he says. “But later doesn’t mean you don’t do it.”

E) To improve your overall fitness: Do EITHER cardio or strength training first. The best exercise is always the exercise that you’ll do. “Find something that you enjoy doing on a regular basis,” says Dalleck. “If there’s something that you don’t like, get it over with first, so you can get to the part you do like.”

Incorporate this routine in the gym depending on the goal and use your time effectively and achieve the maximum.

To be updated on interesting topics, download EndoRush App.