Should I Do Cardio After Lifting?
When setting your fitness goals, there is a big chance that you are going to need a lot of cardio exercises as well as some strength training to achieve them.
This is because this combo can make your body stronger, improve your bone density, and help you shed weight while gaining muscle. But when it comes to the order, many argue about which one to do first.
Deciding which one to start with might not be a big deal to some people, but the choice can impact your overall fitness journey.
Should I do cardio after lifting? Yes, lifting weights along with strength exercises is effective for developing muscle. If your main goal is to improve your overall strength, then lifting weights first might be best. You don’t need to exhaust yourself by doing cardio first.
Find out about lifting and cardio in general in this article. Learning the right way of doing these exercises can help you achieve the fitness goal you seek. Let’s get into it.
Which Comes First: Cardio or Lifting?
In terms of figuring out which one to do first, a lot of experts are split on this issue. The majority of fitness enthusiasts will advise you to do cardio after lifting and weight training.
The reason is that if you do cardio first, you will use much of your energy source for your strength training, which can fatigue the muscle before the most strenuous exercises.
Another reason is that strength training will delete all the muscle-stored carbohydrates, and as a result, it will enhance fat burning during your cardio exercises.
However, there is no complete and credible research regarding this theory that proves its existence. It will come down to your fitness goals and what you want to achieve in your fitness journey.
For example, for those people whose main goal is to increase aerobic endurance and lose some of their body fat, they should perform cardio first.
Meanwhile, those who are aiming to increase their muscular strength should do strength training first.
To get the utmost potential out of your workout, you need to do some exercises that are important to your fitness goals and do this when you are not fatigued.
Reasons Why You Should Do Lifting Before Cardio
Cardio and lifting can coexist in one workout routine, and they both have benefits that can improve each other’s performance. Cardiovascular exercises can improve the body’s ability to transport and utilize oxygen, which will eventually carry over to your lifting.
On the other hand, lifting will strengthen your muscles, which will benefit running or other forms of cardio exercise.
There is a small probability that one can affect the other. For instance, excessive cardio can inhibit muscular gains.
For this reason, planning your cardio training and lifting training exercises is vital if your goals include size and strength. Otherwise, if your goal is size and strength, you don’t have to eliminate cardio overall.
Instead, you should plan it around your lifting. Here are some of the possible reasons why you should perform cardio exercises after your lifting training:
Muscular and Mental Fatigue
Many experienced fitness enthusiasts know that cardio before lifting can hinder a workout due to fatigue.
It is actually the beginners who want to start lifting for whom this concept might have a great impact. Many gym-goers begin their workout routine by doing cardio.
As you know, a treadmill and running are some of the most popular pieces of equipment for getting healthy. It is widely known that running is healthy, so most people start using this type of equipment.
The main issue with cardio before lifting is that it comes with the fatigue that cardio can induce. Excessive running can generally make a person tired, which impacts the amount of force they can produce.
If your muscles or nervous system are slightly impaired, you will have some tough times performing well. In addition, fatigue can impact your mental sharpness, leaving you out of focus.
Excessive cardio exercise pre-lift-training can also deplete all the energy systems that you need to perform optimally. Normally, your body has three types of energy systems: ATP-PC, Glycolytic, and Oxidative.
Each of these energy systems plays a role in different activities, and their rough time estimates are based on maximal energy demands.
ATP-PC energy systems have maximal energy of (+/-) 12 seconds. The Glycolytic system is 30 seconds up to 2 minutes, while the Oxidative system is 2+ minutes.
Remember that these are only estimates that are generally agreed upon by experts. There are a ton of factors that affect and influence each energy system in different people.
If you are doing some high-intensity sprint work, you will tax the energy systems that heavier lifts require. As a result, lifting takes priority over cardio training when performed on the same day.
In other words, your body can hold only so much glycogen in your muscles and liver that can be used for exercise.
If you use the amount that you have stored for cardio before lifting, then your strength and power output may suffer. This is because you lack energy sources.
Conflicting enzymes are among the main reasons why you should consider doing lifts before cardio.
Essentially, some enzymes in the body have been hypothesized to conflict with resistance and cardio training. This is the enzyme mTOR, which is the mechanistic target of rapamycin.
It is a key player in protein synthesis and has been seen to be elevated post-workout. This kind of elevation can last up to 48 hours post-workout. Another enzyme, AMPK, which is the 5’ adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, has been seen to produce more after low-intensity-based exercises.
The issue here is that these two enzymes can influence each other with different training styles.
A study in 2011 suggested that increased AMPK acutely produced during endurance training lowered mTOR signaling. There is another hypothesis that links AMPK and mTOR.
It states that AMPK can override mTOR signaling and that this overriding mTOR will slow down the rate of protein synthesis that you experience post-workout.
How to Effectively Combine Cardio and Strength
Regardless of whether you do cardio or lifting first, there is one workout that combines strength and cardio into one session.
This workout is called concurrent training, and it is perfect if you are interested in using exercise to maintain healthy body weight while doing both cardio and strength workouts.
One study enlisted 23 inactive female students to follow an eight-week exercise program.
This involved either doing endurance before resistance training or vice versa. The endurance portion included 30 minutes of aerobic exercises at moderate intensity.
The resistance training involved 3 sets of 8 up to 12 repetitions of different strength exercises. It was found that there was a significant improvement in terms of performance, strength, and lean body mass regardless of the order of the exercise.
Choose the Routine That Works for You
In terms of designing your very own concurrent workout, there is no secret formula. You just have to do whatever fits your lifestyle and schedule.
Whatever workout you choose, it is important to mix it up every once in a while. Having different workouts, whether you alternate cardio and strength first throughout the week, will help challenge your body in so many ways.
To make sure that you don’t over-fatigue one muscle group, consider pairing some upper body workouts with HIIT cardio days. Do some lower intensity steady-state exercises on days when you are doing some lower-body strength exercises.
This is because your leg muscles will be working during the strength training, and you do not want to kill them with a very intense cardio session.
As a result, you won’t push too hard on your muscle for them to become fatigued.
Plan your workout routine depending on your fitness goals. If you are focused on lifting a certain amount of weights, then you should hit some lifting exercises and add steady-state cardio exercises.
If your goal is to enhance endurance, then you should save your energy and do some stamina-building workouts.
It is vital to know the order of your exercises because you do not want to impose too much strain on your body. You are exercising to help your body physically and mentally.
You do this to feel good about yourself, so you should make sure to exercise correctly. Cardio and lifting can co-exist, but there should be a lot of planning and strategy behind your workout routine.
To figure out where and how to program your resistance and cardio training, always consider your sport, lifestyle, rest, and training history.