Should You Do Cardio or Strength Training First?

With intense weight training workouts and protocols, there are aerobic and anaerobic benefits, but this depends on rest periods between sets. If an individual is lifting their maximum, or is focusing on maximum reps in a period of time to build explosive power, endurance and stamina, they should have a proper recovery. The recovery allows for the body to supply the appropriate nutrients and energy reserves to our working muscles and provides time to recover for the next round of intensity. 

For those who have a tight schedule, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be the key component of their fitness routine. This can be done with bodyweight exercises, free weights or shortened rest times

When to Do Cardio First

If your lifestyle accommodates most days of the week, then you should dedicate specific days to aerobic training. Unfortunately, most people are unable to do this.

If you're not a fan of cardio, do it first. If not, it will be on your mind the whole time you're lifting weights, and you'll be dreading it. You may even try to skip it. Instead, think of strength training as the reward for doing cardio.

If your end goal or milestone is to participate in an endurance race like a marathon, your focus should be on cardio. It's important to get your mileage in, so handle your aerobic training first. You still need to make time for strength training, however, in order to keep your muscles strong and stay injury free.

The Bottom Line

The ultimate goal is to work your muscular and cardiorespiratory systems and figure out which type of training your body likes to do first. There are some individuals who can do both and perform at a high level, regardless of the order. For most of us, it will likely depend on time, goals and frequency.

If you can only fit in a few hours of training per week, consider adding interval or HIIT training to your workout routine. This type of training will create an overload and challenge muscles. Simultaneously, you'll reap respiratory benefits that you get from cardio itself. 

It may take time to build up a foundation for HIIT workouts, but regular interval or a circuit training protocol may be exactly what you need.

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About the Author

Kisar S. Dhillon

Kisar S. Dhillon is a professional fitness trainer living in Portland, Oregon. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology, Post Baccalaureate Studies in Exercise Physiology and a Master's in Business Administration. He has more than 17 years experience in the health and fitness industry and is currently the owner of The Art of Personal Training. You can follow him on Google Plus, Twitter and on YouTube.
Kisar S. Dhillon is a professional fitness trainer living in Portland, Oregon. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology, Post Baccalaureate Studies in Exercise Physiology and a Master's in Business Administration. He has more than 17 years experience in the health and fitness industry and is currently the owner of The Art of Personal Training. You can follow him on Google Plus, Twitter and on YouTube.

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