What Should Be Done First – Cardio or Strength Training?

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Cardio or Strength Training

If you want a fit and lean body, you will have to do strength training. Just sticking to a treadmill or elliptical won’t help. You might be able to lose weight by solely doing cardio, but a lean and good physique is an altogether different thing. Even, if you are training to become a better athlete, you will need to add strength training to your routine to improve your overall performance. Ideally, the best way to train is to do cardio in one session and weight training in another. However, not everyone has that big window available in their daily routines. So, the question arises that if you are squeezed for time and have to include both into a single workout session, then which one of the two should be given preference?

The answer is strength training. The leading fitness experts and plethora of studies suggest that doing strength training before cardio is the best choice, in case you have to squeeze both into a single workout. Here, is the reason why you should do so.

It has been backed by a study published in ‘The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.’ The study subjects were divided into three groups and were made to workout using three different workout tactics. One group was asked to do strength training alone. The second group did running and then strength training. And, lastly one group was asked to do cycling followed by strength training. The researchers found that those who ran or cycled beforehand were able to do fewer reps in comparison to those who did only strength training.

Cardio - Running

The leading fitness experts agree that they feel their strongest in the start of the workout when fatigue hasn’t set in. So, it is better to lift weight, when you are feeling strongest. This way you would be able to lift the heaviest possible weight and can push your muscles to their utmost. This will help you in building stronger and leaner muscles. Also, in some cases, it has been found that by doing cardio first, you often get too tired, which results in loss of intensity during weight lifting session. And, any bodybuilder worth his salt would tell you that without proper intensity, the workout session is a mere waste of time.

If you want muscle building benefits of the workout session, then it is best to start your workout with strength training. By lifting heavy weight in the start of the workout, you would be able to boost your testosterone production, which among other things is helpful in torching unwanted fat. Also, it will give you a drive to work harder. Plus, developing more muscles helps in burning more fat. The bigger the muscles are, more calories they will burn at rest and doing daily chores.

Is cardio less important?

Running outdoors

In terms of torching fat, cardio and strength training are extremely crucial. And, cardio is, in fact, more important than strength training for weight loss. The thing is that doing strength training first sets you up nicely for a cardio session. When you lift weight, your metabolism automatically increases, which means you can burn fat faster. However, you can’t solely rely on strength training to lose weight. In fact, focusing only on strength training could even lead to weight gain. And, without any doubt, cardio is definitely more effective way to lose weight. But, if you combine both, you will get the best of both workout styles. The cardio will change your size, whereas strength training will change your shape. So, by combining both, you will be able to change your size as well as shape. What more can you expect from a workout routine.

In fact, a research has proved that by combining strength training and cardio, you can lose more weight than you can by doing any single one. As mentioned earlier, the study also states that by doing strength training alone, you can’t lose weight. The research found that those who did aerobic training and strength training were able to decrease fat mass and waist circumference and were also able to add lean muscles.

Strength Training - Shoulder Workout

Even, if you want to improve your cardiovascular capacity and have no interest in building muscles, you should add strength training to your workout. The strength training is a crucial part of even athletes and professional sprinters’ training regimes. One such study conducted on elite endurance athletes found that the addition of strength training in an endurance athlete’s program led to improvement in movement economy, muscle power and performance. The professional runners can opt to do strength training every other week and can run every day. This will ensure that strength training doesn’t overpower what is more important for the professional performance.

What suits you best?

Strength Training - Squats

It has to be noted here that every person has a different physiology, so you need to find out what is best suited for you. Also, you might have different ideas about what you want to do with your gym time. Someone who hates lifting weights might want to delegate it to the end of the workout.

The recreational exerciser should experiment with the order of two types of training within the same workout. This will help you judge what is best for you and what you are comfortable with. And, if you are still confused and unsure about which one should come before the other, go for strength training first and then do cardio. It works for leading fitness experts and has been backed by various studies as well.

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