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So, what to do first, cardio or weights?

Many people are confused about where to start their workout. Do you first hop on the elliptical for half an hour or just beeline it to the squat rack for some heavy lifting? What is more important, does it even matter? What to do first, cardio or weights?

There is no one true answer for this one. It comes down to what your goals are. Do you want to build muscle? Do you want to compete in an upcoming 10k race?

what to do first cardio or weights

What to do and when:

The fact is, you can’t fulfill your ultimate potential as both a weightlifter and a marathoner at the same time. Too much cardio at the beginning of your workout will hinder your ability to put on muscle. Your ability to lift to your true ability after an intense run will be much lower. Alternatively, pumping too much iron before cardio will slow your endurance gains.

But, most of us want a combination of cardiovascular fitness and some visible muscles. We want overall fat loss AND improved body composition. Basically, we want to look good at the beach.

Where to start?

Your workout should start with whatever activity is most important to you. The warm up is important, regardless of preference. A 5-10 minute dynamic session to warm up your muscles, joints, and increasing your heart rate can an effective warm up. We also recommend myofascial release by using foam rollers and lacrosse balls on tight or problem areas. Always start your workout with a proper warm up.

Dynamic stretch examples: walking lunges with torso twist, caterpillar walks, walking knee to chest, butt kicks, and side shuffle

Is your goal fat loss and lean muscle building? Along with proper nutrition, a progressive and committed program is vital. We suggest starting with a warm-up, do your weight routine, and finish off with some cardio – if that’s part of your program. This order will have your muscles responding better to the weight, as you won’t be fatigued from previous cardio.

Also remember to mix it up! Variability in your program is good for you; it challenges your body and metabolism. If you’re in love with the treadmill, try swimming or biking one day. If you’re always doing long distance cardio, try some interval training one day.

Happy training!