Strength training is dinner? Cardio is dessert?

If you want to lift and do cardio on the same day, which goes first?

Do you strength train before you do your cardio or do you do your cardio first?

Well…It depends.

Love that answer don’t you?!?

It all comes down to what you are training for!

What is most important to help you reach your goals? What are you trying to accomplish with the workout? What type of strength training and cardio are you planning to do that day?

How you organize your workout IS very important!

For example, if you are doing a glute and hamstring strength training day, you probably don’t want to sprint after since that would put you at risk for hamstring strains. If you really need to sprint that day you may want to sprint BEFORE the workout.

OR you could plan it so you sprint the day before your glute/hamstring day if that lifting day is super important to you.

What it all comes down to is what you are trying to work.

If your lift is the most important part of the workout, you probably don’t want to do cardio before as that could fatigue you and deplete your energy stores so that you aren’t fresh for your workout.

If your cardio training is most important and your lifts are simply supplementary and more about strengthening your cardio, you will want to put your cardio first.

Putting cardio first could also pre-fatigue you for your lift, which has its own sport benefits. Sometimes in sports where an athlete has to generate a ton of strength and power after already being fatigued, workouts that pre-fatigue can be good.

As I said before….IT ALL DEPENDS!

However, your only options aren’t cardio first and strength training second or strength training first and cardio second.

You could also do a metabolic day, which means that cardio and strength training occur at the same time!

During these workouts you probably won’t lift as much as you do on normal strength days or sprint as fast as you do on cardio days, BUT you will get incredible benefits out of the metabolic workout!

Metabolic workouts may be done by either using lighter weights and moving quickly between exercises to get your heart rate up (aka strength training that is cardio) OR by doing quick cardio bursts like some sort of sprinting followed by a few weighted exercises (aka cardio and strength training alternating to keep your heart rate up).

While there are a few sports like powerlifting, where a ton of metabolic days might not be included, all the rest of us should most definitely include a few of these. They help you burn fat and improve your performance endurance.

So if you aren’t worried about lifting the heaviest weight you’ve ever lifted or you aren’t worried about running the fastest mile you’ve ever run, but are more worried about burning a ton of fat and improving your endurance, a metabolic workout may be right for you (although you shouldn’t do it every day).

While strength training before cardio puts the emphasis on strength training and cardio before strength training puts the emphasis on cardio (or on performing after being fatigued), metabolic workouts put the emphasis on improving lactic threshold and remaining strong and powerful for longer before fatiguing! (Also, while all workouts have the potential to help you burn fat, metabolic days are probably some of the best at it!)

So again, how you organize your cardio and strength training in your workout is all dependent upon your goals.

Give your workouts some thought before you step into the gym and I guarantee you’ll get better results than if you just throw them together once you get there!

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Posted on April 24, 2013, in Cardio, program development and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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