What’s better – Cardio after weightlifting or before? Let’s find out

Published on: 1 August 2021, 09:00 am IST

There are a lot of questions around fitness, and this is a pertinent one. So, what is the sequence that you must follow when it comes to cardio and lifting weights? Here’s all you need to know.

cardio before weightlifting or after
It is your fitness goals that decide the sequence you must follow. Image courtesy: Unsplash

Fitness is not just about picking any exercise, it is also about what gives the maximum benefit. As most of us know, a good workout must include both cardio and strength training. When you have both as part of your routine, you can build a stronger body, and at the same time, also improve your bone density. But there’s an important question that most people are unaware of: are you supposed to do cardio before or after doing weights? Yes, it’s essential to know because it can really impact your fitness goals.

Before we get there, you need to first figure out what it is that you want to make stronger: your heart or lungs? Also, what are your goals: losing weight or maintaining your weight? There’s a little reference by the American Council of Exercise that’s going to guide you a little better. 

Here’s what it looks like:

1. If endurance is what’s on your mind, do cardio first.
2. If your goal is burning fat and losing weight, do strength training first.

Do cardio after weights to build strength

We’ll explain it to you in a logical manner. We all know lifting weights is hard, and it is important that you perform that with all your energy. When you prioritise it, you focus your brain power on lifting weights, but if you do it the other way around, then you might huff and puff after cardio, and hardly have any energy to lift weights. Plus, the sequence really matters, in order to prevent injury as well.

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Also, remember to go for low-intensity cardio with weightlifting.

Go for weights first if weight loss is on your mind

Doing cardio after weight training burns more fat after doing the cardio workout, as compared to the other way around. This has been revealed by a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
Even when it comes to heart health, resistance training helps much more, reveals a 2019 JAMA Cardiology study.

Doing cardio before weight training works when you want to maintain fitness

For those who are looking to maintain their fitness levels, doing cardio before strength training is more beneficial. That’s because doing light cardio such as jogging or biking preps up your muscles before weight lifting. It also increases the blood flow in the body. What’s more, starting with cardio first improves your cardiovascular fitness.

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Can you do cardio and weights on the same day?

Traditionally, it was believed that cardio must be performed on one day, while weight training should be done the next day. There’s really no reason why you can’t do both on the same day. Just make sure you do low-intensity cardio exercises such as swimming, jogging, walking or cycling.

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.

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