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What to Do First: Cardio or Weights

It is the age old conundrum - cardio before weights, or weights before cardio? For me there is no clear cut answer or protocol. So I thought I would share my internal debate on the matter.

Reasons to do Cardio first:

  • I am planning to do a long cardio session and I don't want to tire out my legs before running for 60 minutes.
  • I am just planning on lifting weights with my upper body and they will still feel fresh after my cardio session.
  • The weight room at the gym is really crowded.

Reasons to Lift first

  • If my focus for the workout is strength training, I will warm up and cool down with a little cardio, but spend most of my time lifting weights. This way my lifting form is not compromised by my tired muscles. I think this helps prevent injury too.

  • Here is a scientific reason that I factor in to my decision making process: Lifting weights first can boost your fat-burning power during the aerobic part of your workout since it can deplete your "quick burst" energy (glycogen) stores. This means when you do your cardio workout after lifting weights, you'll likely burn less glycogen and more stored fat.
  • If the cardio room is really full, I will lift weights first.

Sometimes I skip the entire debate and just mix it all together with some circuit training. And you? Which do you do first? Lift weights or cardio?


Join The Conversation
tshellyedwards tshellyedwards 8 years
I love that we are having this conversation :) I was always a "cardio first, then weights" type of girl but then the last few times I was at the gym I overheard trainers telling their clients in their sessions about how they can burn more fat if they do the weights first (just as Fit mentioned above), so I've changed my routine! Like most of you ladies, I typically alternate days but there are times when I do both in the same day. I'm a big fan of pilates, so sometimes I'll do my pilates moves on my ball with my stretch band for tummy and strength training, and then my cardio. I love it! :D
rumpel2 rumpel2 9 years
i warm-up for 10-15 mins on the elliptical...then i do 30-45 mins of weights and then depending on how much energy i hv left and the kind of cardio trainin i'm doin, i do anywhere b/w 30-60 mins of cardio :)
silvergirl silvergirl 9 years
I start with elliptical or step, then weights, abs, and then cardio again, another machine.
absolut_lauren absolut_lauren 9 years
I start with most of my cardio just to get it over with lol. 25 minutes on the treadmill, then about an hour of weights and then finish with 10 minutes on the stationary bike.
melda melda 9 years
i do weights mornings and cardio afternoon
martinita martinita 9 years
I love weights and hate cardio.. so I do it first like taking a band-aid off and then start the fun stuff.. when I've eaten a lot that week, I'd do 45 minutes on the elyptical.. if not, then I'll just do 10 to 15 min and then start weight lifting
Iris1000 Iris1000 9 years
This morning I did 15 minutes on the Stairmaster. The 15 on the eliptical. Is that enough time?
Iris1000 Iris1000 9 years
Cardio first. Got it!
scoop45 scoop45 9 years
Weights first!lol
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
I always start with 10 minutes on the eliptical to warm up all of my muscle areas because er.. why would I warm up on a bike and then go do some arm weights? Then I'll do 10 minutes of more cardio. Then hit the weight machines. Arms, legs, abs.. everything. Then 10 more minutes of cardio! =)
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
In general I do a quick 15 minute warm-up usually switching up 3 types of cardio activities, then weights, and then cardio. I allow 48 hours between weight lifting. When I lift, it is circuit training. I run 15 minutes on lifting days and 45 minutes on non-lifting days. Monday: 15 minute cardio, circuit training, tennis lesson, ballet lesson Tuesday: 45 minute run Wednesday: 15 minutes cardio, circuit training, tennis lesson, ballet lesson Thursday: 45 minute run Friday: 15 minute cardio, circuit training, tennis lesson Saturday: Something fun like more tennis Sunday: Nothing!
Pink_Lipstick Pink_Lipstick 9 years
I do weights first because I'll get too tired if I do cardio first. I know my body and it throws in the towel after 45 minutes of cardio no matter what!
ensypher ensypher 9 years
I have had this internal debate with myself for years. I havn't found a clear cut answer. However, I circumvent this by doing Cardio in the AM and then weight lifting in the PM. I hate lifting in the morning and by lifting in the afternoon I get lots and lots of eye candy as motivation to keep going!! Also if it's an "off" day I can just do yoga in the morning and still get a great stretch and feel more focused during the day, it's my form of active recovery. =)
prbeachbum prbeachbum 9 years
I mix it up: 10 mins. on the Cybex stepper, then all my weight lifting (I alternate each day between abs and upper body weights and legs/lower body weights,) then I finish with 20 mins. on the elliptical and 15 on the treadmill doing a running/speedwalking mix. I wish I didn't feel so pressed for time whenever I'm there!
Jess8902 Jess8902 9 years
I'm with you Feesje, I do Cardio 4 days and Strength 2 with a day off usually Saturdays, although sometimes I go for a hike Saturday mornings.
wallaceo wallaceo 9 years
i do cardio, but no lifts whatsoever. i know...terrible. but i'm already bulked up and am too freaked out for more.
Feesje Feesje 9 years
I don't do both of them the same day. I do cardio (running or swimming) every other day and Pilates in the days between.
sillyrunner sillyrunner 9 years
I can only do half the number of sets during weight training when I do cardio first, but I can always finish my goal cardio time when I do weights first. I am a runner and soccer player, so I focus mostly on my upper body and abs twice a week and lower body once a week (my shortest workout all week!).
avalanche574 avalanche574 9 years
i have to do weights first - i'm too tired after cardio
lostcitygirl lostcitygirl 9 years
I workout with a trainer, he starts me with about 10-15 minutes on the treadmill at a brisk walk on an incline, to get my heartrate up and blood flowing. Then we do about an hour of weight training, calisthenics, and some pilates. Typically with a focus (core, legs, back, upper body). Then I do another 30 minutes to an hour of cardio on the eliptical or treadmill.
kgtg1 kgtg1 9 years
I used to have a PT and she told me to always do weight lifting first. If you do cardio first, you tire out all of your muscles and you will not benefit as much from lifting weights. I do warm up cardio for about 5-10 mins, weights, then full cardio, then abs. Although I'm sure different things work for different ppl, I really notice that I look more toned when doing it this way.
theboyslover theboyslover 9 years
i hear cardio first speeds your metabolism for the day. true?
JustMe21 JustMe21 9 years
Usually do the weights first.
krissy1248 krissy1248 9 years
I do cardio first, too. I don't just alternate upper and lower body, I do specific parts. My husband got me doing this. There apparently taught that by there Master Gunny or some one. One day I focus on abs and back, one day legs, one day arms. I like it a lot better this way.
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