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Should You Do Cardio Exercise Before or After Strength Training?

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A question I get asked a lot and have seen countless times on message boards around the internet is whether a person should be doing cardiovascular exercise before or after resistance training? Before I continue, I want to be clear that I believe everyone should engage in a cardio workout of their choice, be it cardio, resistance or flexibility, for 5 to 10 minutes before any workout. This is critical for a number of reasons, as proper, low-intensity cardiovascular exercise warms up the muscles, ligaments, joints, and tendons that will be used more intensely in the following exercise program. Warming up with cardio also slightly raises core temperature, increases blood flow, raises heart rate slightly and helps prepare the heart for an increased workload, helps increase lung function, and helps you mentally focus on the exercise routine ahead. The most important benefit of warming up with light cardio is the significant reduction in the risk of injury. If the body is not properly warmed up, the likelihood of injuring a muscle, joint, ligament or tendon is much higher.

Now back to the question of whether you should do cardio before or after resistance training? There is no single best answer here, instead you should assess your individual fitness goals. If your goal is to improve endurance, endurance, or overall cardiovascular health, then I suggest doing your cardio before strength and resistance training. By doing the cardio first (after your 5-10 minute warm-up, of course), you can engage in a more intense cardio session that can potentially include some intervals where you really hit your lactic acid threshold, or VO2 max level . You’re much less likely to be able to achieve high-intensity cardio after a weight training session. In short, if your goal is to increase cardiovascular fitness, you should do cardio workouts before resistance training.

On the other hand, if your goal is fat and weight loss, a current thinking in the fitness community is that by doing cardio after resistance training, you increase the rate of fat metabolism (fat burning, as it’s often called). how). The theory is that by engaging in intense resistance training, you are depleting muscle glycogen stores during that workout. Once glycogen stores are depleted, the body begins using fats in the body for fuel. Endurance athletes have known this for a long time, but to achieve this in endurance training, an athlete typically has to run non-stop for about 90 minutes to completely deplete the muscles of glycogen. As such, I remain somewhat skeptical that many average athletes will push themselves to the point of glycogen depletion during their resistance training, particularly in workouts under an hour. For more advanced trainers, I believe it is possible and therefore may be an effective way to reduce body fat, perhaps for those individuals.

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I tend to think of it this way: If you’re doing back-to-back cardio and resistance training on the same day, one or the other will obviously be of a lower intensity. Again, evaluate your personal fitness goals before deciding whether to do your cardio before or after resistance training. When you’re trying to build muscle, you want to have as much muscle power available for your resistance training as possible, so cardio before strength training would be counterproductive to your muscle building goals. If you want to gain endurance or heart health, focus on the cardio workouts and do them first. Remember, regardless of what you end up doing first, it’s more important to properly warm up with at least 5 to 10 minutes of cardio (even if it’s just a brisk walk on the treadmill) to prepare the body for the workouts ahead to get your head in the right position for a productive workout, and most importantly, to reduce the risk of injury. This debate has no meaning if you injure yourself 5 minutes into a workout and then rest for the next 8 weeks to rehabilitate an injury!

Thanks to Dr. Christopher C Weaver, D.C

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