Should You do Cardio or Weights First?
When it comes to the order of your workout, whether you do cardio or weights first depends on your end goal.
While there is some overlap (as the video above shares with you), your number one goal will determine whether you need start your workout with cardio, weights , or whether it really doesn’t matter.
So, which one of these end goals most resonates with you?
- You want to feel strong, so you can lift up the heavy planters or lift the grandbabies…
- you want to lose weight so you can slip easily into your jeans, and feel confident at the image staring back at you in the mirror..
3. Is your end goal to achieve optimal health? Maybe you have a family history of heart disease, or type II diabetes. Maybe you want to reverse a condition you’ve been diagnosed with recently, and feel energized once again!
Choose just one so you can get the best bang for your workout time.
First Important Rule: If you’re end goal is Strength or Fat Loss you MUST Maximize Lean Muscle
For Strength: I’m sure you’re aware with more lean mass, you have more power and strength.
For Fat Loss: You also need to enhance lean muscle (and no, you won’t bulk up).
Lean muscle is metabolically active. It requires an immense amount of energy. For that reason, it is in charge of boosting your metabolic rate and burning more fat, even at rest.
That means, even during activities like sitting and reading a book or sitting around a family dinner and enjoying the moment, you burn more fat with more lean muscle.
Because both strength and fat loss require an enhanced level of lean mass, you want to start with weight training first before cardio.
Simply put, you want the most energy to enhance lean muscle.
If you were to do your weight training after you did your cardio, you wouldn’t have quite as much energy to lift as much, or to finish more repetitions. you’d fatigue quicker which means you’re not enhancing lean mass to the same potential.
If Your End Goal is Strength, Here’s Where your Training Plan Shifts
If strength is your number one goal, you don’t need to do cardio at all!
In fact, prolonged cardio workouts may break down the important lean muscle that maximizes your strength, so why not just stop at a really good quality strength training workout?
If you do cardio because you believe your heart health will suffer without it, your weight training (or strength training routine) can count as cardio. Take a look at the article I wrote: Does Weight Training Count as Cardio? Fitness Tips for Women Over 50. (Click here)
If you genuinely love the way cardio makes you feel, but strength is still by far your number one main goal, I suggest you keep your strength training workouts your cardio workouts completely separate.
That means you have to wait at least four hours after your strength training in order to do your cardio,
do your strength training on opposite days from your cardio.
For Fat Loss, You Do Need Cardio as a Part of Your Exercise Over 50
For fat loss, it is important to do cardio to help enhance fat burn, but the type of cardio you do also matters.
If you weight train for an extended period of time, and then immediately do a cardio workout for another extended period of time, cortisol (your stress hormone) stays elevated long enough to to break down the lean muscle you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
When coupling your weight training and cardio together, and the overall goal is fat loss, you don’t want to do long bouts of cardio.
High intensity interval training includes short bouts of all-out intensity followed by short bouts of rest.
You can greatly cut back on your cardio time by doing a quick 10 minute HIIT workout. Then cardio is done!
High intensity interval training does not need to be high impact, or intense, especially if you’re just starting exercise after years of inactivity.
You can power walk, go up a hill during a slower paced walk, you can use one of the treadmills ellipticals or even recumbent bikes at a gym, as long as your heart rate gets into a high intensity heart rate zone of approximately 85 percent of your total heart rate, or more.
What if Over Health is the Main Goal?
If you want to be healthy, and you thought “if I lose weight great, but if I don’t that’s great too” then you have it easy! It really isn’t going to matter whether you do cardio or weights first.
For health, you just want to be healthy, so whatever is going to get you through the workout that is what you do first.
If you love cardio and your don’t love weights, I suggest you do the weight training first get it out of the way and end with what you love.
If you love weight training and you hate cardio, why not get the cardio out of the way (it can also act as a great warm-up) and then do your weights next. Whatever gets you through the workout most easily!
Let’s Do a Quick Recap:
If you’re main goal is strength over 50, you’re going to do your weights first and then you are either not going to do cardio or you’re going to choose to do cardio on an opposite day, or four hours later.
If your main goal is weight loss or fat loss over 50, you’re also going to do your weights first but you’re going to shorten the time that you do cardio to small bouts of high intensity interval training.
Do your high intensity interval training during your workout or on separate days, whatever feels more comfortable for you.
If your main goal is over health over 50, it really doesn’t matter what you do first, just get it done!
So, there you have it! The simple breakdown of when you should do cardio or weights first, and when it really doesn’t matter.
While this blog shares the best science backed information to maximize your end goal results, the truth is, the best strategy is one you’re going to follow consistently.
At the end of the day, if you know you prefer doing a certain form of exercise first, and it’s working to help you lose fat, enhance your strength, and give you overall health because you can consistently commit to doing it, then keep it up!