One of the most common questions in the fitness industry is - “Should I do cardio before or after lifting?”
And here’s the surprising answer:
It depends on your fitness goals.
While cardio and strength training both have benefits (and you definitely SHOULD do both to stay healthy and strong), a more important thing to remember is the order you do them. This can make a HUGE difference in your workout results…
So it all depends on your goals - what do you want to achieve with exercise?
Based on your goals, here is a simple decision tree to help you decide on whether you do cardio before or after lifting.
Better Endurance/ Stamina
If your goal is to increase your endurance/stamina, doing cardio before lifting is the way to go.
This spikes your heart rate early on in the workout for stronger cardiovascular health and better endurance over time.
Want to shred fat and get lean quick?
Do strength training first and then end your workout with cardio.
Studies show that doing this helps burn extra calories and keeps your metabolism running long after you finish working out.
If your goal is to increase your strength and power, do strength training first, followed by some light cardio.
Overdoing cardio can decrease your muscle mass over time and make it take longer for your body to recover.
If you exercise just to get fit, with no specific goals or targets?
You can do either cardio or strength training first.
Regardless of which you do first, both will help whip your body into shape (although we recommend doing the one you like less first just to get it out of the way!).
If you’re doing leg day or lower body training, make sure to do cardio after you work out.
Doing cardio before lower body exercises like squats and deadlifts can tire your leg muscles out. Naturally, this can ruin leg day for you as you are lifting weights whilst fatigued which may lead to injury
And there you have it - the simple decision tree.
The bottom line is this:
Doing cardio before lifting (or vice versa) is good for you no matter what. But for certain fitness goals, one is better first than the other.
All you need to do is figure out what your goals are and modify your exercise routine, with the help of this guide, to get you there faster.