What Comes First: Cardio or Strength Training?

What Comes First: Cardio or Strength Training?

Cardio is a vital part of any workout regime whether it is for weight loss, bodybuilding, strength training, or sports training. It increases our endurance levels and is also an important way to preventing all sorts of health problems and diseases. But, when is the best time to do cardio? Recent studies show doing cardio right after lifting weights is much better than doing it before weights.

When you start your workout with weights, by the time you get to the treadmill or bike to do cardio, your anaerobic energy systems will already be beyond tired out, which means your body will have to resort to burning fat to keep your aerobic system going strong, says Exercise physiologist Marta Montenegro. That means more calories burned, not just in the gym, but after you are cooling-down too.


Research Shows: Training before Cardio

One study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that exercisers did fewer weight lifting reps if they had just ran or cycled. Yet, doing strength training with no cardio beforehand resulted in more reps. Another recent study found similar results. “After research subjects performed different bouts of treadmill running, the number of reps they performed during resistance training decreased, as did muscle power, according to dailyburn.com.

Barbell Squats


Factor #1 – Protein Synthesis

An important factor that happens to our bodies during a tough cardio workout is that protein synthesis levels decreases and protein breakdown increase. While protein synthesis drops (meaning your body’s ability to build muscle), and you hit the weights, the result will be that your bodies ability to build muscle will be impaired because of your cardio training depending on how intense your cardio was.

Cardio on Exercise Bike

Factor #2 – Your Training Goals

Lastly, you are going to want to ask yourself what exactly it is you are training for. Are you training to become a better runner or to compete in marathons or triathlons? Then you will want to do cardio first, if not always. Or is your main goal to get leaner and lose weight or are you mostly concerned with improving strength? Then the answer will always be to do strength training first.



The bottom line is to do what works for your body, but if you need a place to start: tackle weight lifting, then cardio. Your third option—and this is the one to take if you’re set on going all out from start to finish—is alternating your strength and cardio days.

Share this article...