4. Cardio before or after weight training?

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4. Cardio before or after weight training?

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The cardio should be done by itself as a workout or after your weight training. If you are trying to supplement your
nutrition with burning off some extra calories, then anytime of the day is good. However, if you do it when you wake
up in the morning, you should understand that this training is catabolic since you have to fight against the hormone
cortisol, which is produced due to the 7 or 8 hours you have gone without eating anything. The way you can
compensate for this hormone is by taking BCAA or whey protein to reduce the effects of the hormone.

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Which comes first: shampoo or conditioner? Easy. It’s always shampoo. If only exercise were that simple. No matter how good we get at understanding exercise science, there are still some topics that seem forever debatable. One of those topics is the order of cardio and weight training. Which one comes first? We’d like the answer to be simple, but it’s a bit complicated. The good news? I’ll explain how it can be simple for you. It’s only a complicated and difficult question if we are after an answer that applies to everyone. The answer for you is likely simple.

First, if you or someone you know has recently joined the new “Never Do Cardio” cult, that’s not the answer and please read this first. Extremism in fitness is a dangerous idea, and vacillating between “always” and “never” on a topic misses the mark every time. From crunches to running shoes to cardio, extremism is for lazy thinkers who dislike nuance.

When seemingly simple questions continue to puzzle us it is often because the “simple” question has a nuanced answer that is dependent on numerous factors. And we run into trouble whenever we take what works for one individual and try to make that the template for all of humanity to follow. The “correct” answer to this question can vary from person to person, but by the end of this article, you should have a better idea of how to answer this question for you.

An ACE-commissioned study found that placing cardio exercise after strength created a heart-rate response that was 12 beats per minute higher for the exact same workout intensity and duration. This would seem to present clear evidence that warrants doing cardio first due to the increase in perceived effort from this shift in heart rate and a potential shifting of the intensity from “moderate” to “vigorous” with no modifications to external intensity. In fact, these were the general conclusions of the study.

cardio before or after lifting

However, both the lead researcher in the study, Dr. Lance Dalleck, as well as ACE’s Chief Science Officer Dr. Cedric Bryant mentioned that the results of this study should not be taken as an endorsement of an always cardio-first approach to program design. “When working holistically with a client,” explains Dr. Dalleck, “the client’s needs and goals should drive the development of the exercise program.”

Indeed, you can find other equally well-designed studies that conclude that it’s better to perform strength training first because muscle force-generating capacity (a fancy term for “strength”) is reduced when doing cardio first, and because there is a slight increase in the use of fat for fuel because the body’s carbohydrate stores are depleted first with strength training.

Furthermore, most previous studies looked at the impact of strength and cardio in a single session. A few more recent studies, however, have investigated what is happening to the body’s response and recovery from exercise as a result of strength and cardio together. Here are some highlights:

Running negatively affects strength training more than cycling.
Endurance-training volume should be limited to 20 to 30 minutes to minimize potentially negative effects.
Moderate- to high-intensity endurance training decreases the efficacy of strength training
You are likely now a little confused. As with most things related to fitness, trying to make gray areas into black and white rules rarely works. In fact, the more deeply you look into the question of whether to do cardio or strength first, the clearer it becomes that the only correct answer is: “It depends.”

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I hear that question all the time and for good reason. In an ideal world, you would do your weight training and your cardio on two separate days—or at least space them apart in the morning and evening. Many of us, however, don’t have that luxury, so the answer to the before-or-after question depends on the type of fitness results you want.

The two different types of physical activity—weight training and cardio— impact our muscle cells in different ways. Lifting weights activates genes that are normally dormant within a muscle cell, but the cellular changes that your body requires to adapt to resistance exercise are different from the changes your body needs for cardio- vascular, or endurance exercise. So as it turns out, when you do both types of exercise in the same workout, the two stimuli want to cancel each other out. The result is a little bit of improvement in both strength and endurance, but not as much as if you did only one type of exercise.

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So how can you time them in the same workout session? If your goal is to build muscle, do a cardio workout first. A study looking at the hormonal response to doing cardio before or after weights found that in men, anabolic hormones like testosterone remained elevated longer when weight lifting was 
done after cardio. There is some evidence that this applies to women as well.

If you’re looking to build endurance more than muscle mass, consider doing the opposite: Another study looked at the different
 genes and signaling 
pathways that were
 activated by switching 
the order of weights
 and cardio. Essentially, 
the final type of exercise you end your
 workout session with
 has a greater adaptive
 effect. Doing cardio last suppressed the anabolic effect of weight lifting to some extent, and it increased protein breakdown more. Doing weights last allowed those pathways involved in protein synthesis and muscle growth to remain active longer.

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