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Cardio Before or After Weights?

Cardio Before or After Weights?

Cardio Before or After Weights?

Are you one of those fitness-conscious people who have wasted many gym hours pondering the most asked question of whether you should do cardio before weights or weights before your cardio exercises? Don’t worry! It’s not only you; fitness experts are also split on this issue.

The majority of fitness and training experts believe that weight training should be followed by cardio exercises. And the grounds for this stance sound pretty logical – if you do cardio first, it uses much of the energy source for your anaerobic work and fatigues the muscles before their most strenuous activity. The rest of the experts hold the same view for doing weight exercises first. Strength training in the first place will use the glycogen or sugar stored in the muscles, enhancing the process of fat burning during the cardio workout because of the lack of available sugar for fuel.

Findyourgym.ae helps you find the best gyms in Dubai offering Cardio and weight exercises.

What's Better─ Cardio Before or After Weights

However, no credible, concrete research precisely answers this question as it isn’t exactly that straightforward. Simply put, the answer to this tricky question depends on your training goal. Your priorities will determine your workout sequence, maybe you’re aiming to make your heart and lungs healthier, or perhaps you’re more interested in weight loss or weight management.

Before finding the answer to this disputed question, let us look at this question from another aspect. Sometimes, people mix cardio and weight exercises as they do not know the exact definitions of both workouts. Here is a brief overview of both exercises.

Cardio Exercises

Cardiovascular exercise, in short, called “cardio”, is an aerobic activity. Any physical activity that increases your heart rate and pumps your blood can be considered cardio. Water aerobics, jumping rope, dancing, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sprints, trail running, walking, and football are all examples of cardiovascular exercises.

Apparently, these activities differ drastically in their intensity and movements; however, one thing is pretty common in all these exercises — your heart rate elevates, blood circulation increases, muscles contract, and your body move rhythmically.

Weight Training

Muscle gain and increased strength are the basis of weight training, as it involves working against resistance. Resistance training, weight training, and strength training are all the same and are usually known as weight training.

This resistance could be free weights, machines, or other equipment that can act as a stress to your muscles, forcing them to get stronger. With weight training, your muscles get stronger and bigger; this is known as hypertrophy.

Each muscle contraction generates enough force to move the weight during weight training. It relies on fast-twitch muscle fibers, powered by Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). However, these quick bursts of activity are difficult to maintain for longer periods because of the energy levels they require. As a result, you can lift weights for only a given number of reps, usually between 6 to 15.

Effect Of Cardio And Weight Exercises On Body

Weight exercises use the anaerobic system, also known as the Lactic Acid system. During weight training, the carbohydrates stored in cells are broken down into Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) via a complex chemical reaction without oxygen. During this reaction, Lactic Acid is produced as a byproduct. That’s why you feel a burning sensation while lifting weights. This system is typically activated during high-intensity short exercises. The number of ATP yielded with the Anaerobic system is given below:

1 molecule of glycogen = 3 ATP

Cardio exercises rely on the aerobic system, also known as the oxygen system. Glycogen is broken down into ATP during cardio exercises using oxygen via a complex chemical reaction. After 7-10 minutes of light or moderate exercise, the aerobic system turns on. You need to breathe harder during cardio workouts since your body needs more oxygen to create ATP. This is why a low-intensity activity like jogging feels easier after the first 10 minutes. Aerobic conversion is given below:

1 molecule of glycogen= 32 ATP

It is clear from the above comparison that cardio exercises are more efficient than weight exercises.

Can You Do Both Cariod And Weights On The Same Day?

Traditional workout guidance suggests you alternate your workouts—cardio one day, followed by weight training the next day, or vice versa. Dr. Ghuman says, “there’s no reason you can’t do both cardio and weight training in the same workout session or split into two sessions on the same day.”

Now when you know what cardio and weights are about and how they work with your body, you can better decide what to do first ─ cardio or weights?

When To Do Cardio Before Weight

Think about your exercise goals that determine what you should do first to achieve them. Listed below are some of the goals that can be achieved better in less time if you opt for cardio before weight training.


Before starting a workout, it is essential to warm up your muscles – whether that workout is strength training or cardio training. Light cardio is the most common and effective way to warm up. These light cardio exercises will slowly increase your heart rate, increasing the blood flow to muscle tissue to warm them up and prepare them for a more intense activity.

Here are some of the light cardio that you can do for warm-up:

  • – Jumping jack
  • – Jumping rope
  • – Treadmill walking & jogging
  • – Mountain climbing

Muscles Endurance

Cardio before weight is the key to improving muscle endurance. Once your cardio session is over and you switch to weights, your energy levels are nearly depleted. However, if you push on and do some lightweight, you’d end up increasing your muscular endurance.

Please check out our blog, “Endurance Vs Stamina“.

When To Do Weight Before Cardio

If you have the following goals, it is better to do weights before cardio to achieve them.

Weight Loss

A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise revealed that cardio after weight training burned more fat during the first 15 minutes of a cardio workout versus starting with cardio and then weightlifting.

Building Muscles and Strength

If you’re looking to gain muscle mass, better start your workout with weightlifting and finish up with some cardio to burn off any fat won by your body.

If your goal is only general fitness, do either first.


The most important thing when talking about doing cardio or weightlifting first is to make sure you’re getting the right amount of both in the first place. Lots of weightlifting without enough cardio will reward you with impressive muscles covered up by layers of fat. Likewise, lots of cardio without enough weightlifting will leave you looking more like a marathon runner instead of a lean, mean muscle machine.

Before you decide what suits you better, try jotting down your goals.

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