Should cardio come before weight training?

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Deciding whether to do cardio or strength training first is possibly one of the most heated topics of debate in the world of fitness.

Many will say cardio is better to warm the body up for exercise, while others will advise that energy for a good weight training session. So which really is better to do first? We’re here to weigh the pros and cons for you:


Cardio first vs weights

First off, combining both forms of training in one routine is never a bad idea. We call this cross-training. Second, let’s remember that there are various forms of cardio. There are high-intensity versions like HIIT or AMRAP routines, and lower-intensity, steady-state exercises, such as jogging or cycling.

As is obvious, low-intensity exercises won’t knock the wind out of you as much as high-intensity exercises. This makes low-intensity cardio ideal for a pre-weights warm-up.

A few minutes of running, cycling, rowing, skipping etc. have been proven to aid with strength routines by first warming up the body and getting the muscles and heart pumping. Moreover, these exercises are aerobic, i.e., they work with the oxygen stores in the body to produce energy.

If you’re looking to cram in an intense HIIT routine for your cardio, it’s best you save it for after your weights routine. That’s because you may use up your energy stores in your cardio routine if you do it first, leaving you with lesser energy to push weights later.

That can be attributed to short bursts of energy being fuelled by anaerobic processes, i.e., the energy from food stored in your muscle cells converted to ATP – adenosine triphosphate – which is known as the energy currency of the body.

Weight training is also fuelled by ATP in the same process. Hence, doing an HIIT routine before lifting weights might not really be the most ideal.

If you’re looking to lose weight, cardio before weights may be a good idea, as you would need to give it your all in those routines. The weight training to follow does help speed up the process by strengthening your muscles too.

Similarly, you may also follow this pattern if your fitness goal is to improve your endurance or stamina. Lifting weights is still essential to maintain muscle mass, but you would only need to do it at a lighter intensity.

Keep in mind: if your goal is to build strength, and you choose to start your routine with light cardio, keep the duration between ten and 15 minutes. Spend time on the treadmill or cycle. That will ensure your body is adequately warmed up without expending too much energy and getting fatigued too early.


Whether you choose to do your cardio before or after your strength routine, be sure to follow appropriate warm-up and cool-down protocols before and after the workout. Cross-training is a fun way to get stronger and more toned, and build better stamina. Moreover, there are numerous routines you can follow. Stay safe, and practice regularly.


Q. Which do you do first?

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