Should you do strength or cardio first?

Should you do strength or cardio first?


The ultimate what comes first question strength or cardio?

While you might not think it makes much of a difference, the truth is that which way round you structure your workout can actually have an impact on your goals. 

So, which way round is best for your goals? 

You want to lose weight… 

Do strength training first. 

Resistance training helps you build muscle

More muscle = a faster resting metabolic rate. 

And what does that mean? 

Well, a faster metabolic rate = more calories burnt when you’re chilling at home catching up on your favourite box set. 

The dream. 

Due to this, if you’re looking at losing weight, it makes sense to do strength training first to build lean muscle mass and then finish with cardio to burn those extra calories at the end of your session. 

You want to beat your 5K record… 

Do cardio first.

Might seem obvious, but if you want to get faster, then you should probably be starting your workout with cardio. 

A study from James Cook University in Australia revealed that doing strength training before cardio may reduce the performance of endurance athletes. Another study had similar results, showing that exercisers who ended their workout with cardio had a heart rate of 12 beats per minute higher than those who had started with it - basically, it was harder. 

If you want to be getting the most from your cardio sessions it is worth getting it done at the beginning. 

You want to hit a squat PR… 

Do strength training first. 

If the focus of your training is to build strength, then you should start your training sessions with strength training. 

This is because, if you have depleted your energy stores during your cardio session, then you won’t have as much left over for weight training. 

One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research revealed that exercisers who performed cardio prior to weight lifting managed around 20% fewer repetitions at a reduced weight than those who started with it. 

You just want to get fit... 

Do either first. 

Let’s be honest; both cardio and strength training are going to help build your fitness levels. 

If you have no particular goal apart from keeping fit and healthy, then it doesn’t really matter which you start your workout with. 

Find a structure that you enjoy and pushes you and do that – simple. 

Ultimately, incorporating both into your workout regime is important and so if you find a structure that keeps you motivated, then do it. 

There is not one single formula that works for everyone, so consider your goals and your personal schedule and tailor your workout around that. 

Which do you do first: cardio or strength? Let us know in the comments below. 


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