Is It Best to Do Cardio Before or After Weight Lifting?

I’m the type of fitness guy who incorporates a full spectrum of workouts both during a workout session and throughout the week.  My main workouts include weight lifting, running/uphill walking on a treadmill, elliptical workouts and yoga.  When weather is nice, I’ll run/walk outside.

I’m not alone in combining resistance training, cardio and yoga.  After all, each type of fitness workout delivers different results.

The question is if you’re planning on doing cardio and weight lifting in the same workout, should you do cardio before or after weight lifting?

Should I Do Cardio Before, or After Weights?


What do I do?

I usually do cardio after my weight lifting workout.  Sometimes I’ll do 5 or 10 minutes of light cardio on a treadmill or elliptical trainer for a warm-up.  Otherwise, if a workout session includes weight lifting, I like to be fully energized to push and pull the weights are hard as I can.

But, I also do supersets.

It should be noted that when I weight lift, I do them in a superset format.  Specifically, I work two different muscles back-to-back with no rest (but I do take a brief rest between supersets).

The reason this is important is supersets provide both an aerobic and anaerobic workout, which means I don’t have to put as much time into a cardio workout during a workout session that includes resistance training.

But my method isn’t the only way.

The fact is I’m more interested in building lean muscle than training for any type of cardio activity such as a marathon.  Also, I’m in no need of burning tons of fat.  Therefore, cardio is not the focus of my fitness activity.  Instead, I focus on building lean muscle for much of the year.  I also focus a lot on being flexible by incorporating plenty of yoga in my workout regimen.

The fact is, I believe (based on my experience), if you’re going to combine cardio and resistance training in one workout session, you should do first the type of workout exercise that is most important to you.  For example, if you’re training for a marathon, training on a treadmill will deliver the greatest benefit.  Therefore, run on the treadmill first and do some resistance training after.  This way you have maximum energy for the most important part of your workout.

That said, it never hurts to mix up your workout regimen.  You can do so without losing focus of your primary objective.  Taking the marathon training example again, you can certainly dedicate one or two workouts during the week to resistance training where you start with weight lifting and lift for 15 to 30 minutes, concluding the session with a 30 to 60 minute run.

Avoid plateau.

The worst thing other than over-train or getting injured you can do in your training, regardless of your primary objective, is hitting a plateau.  Many people do the same old workout for months and years never progressing.  I’m not saying doing the same workout for 6 months is a waste of time.  What I’m saying is that time could be used much more wisely by mixing up the workouts.  This is why, for instance, marathon training programs leading up to a race changes from week-to-week.  It’s the slight variations combined with harder/longer workouts that result in a successful marathon training regimen.

Have fun planning your workouts.

I love creating new workouts.  I do it every 6 to 9 weeks.  Like I said before, I usually focus on weight lifting, but once in a while I mix it up and include more yoga or cardio for a few weeks.  This not only delivers fitness progress, but keeps my workout sessions interesting.

Don’t get too wrapped up about the order of things.

I try not to get too wrapped up about scientific theories and worrying whether there is one precise type of workout that’s best.  In my experience there is no one perfect workout, regardless whether you’re training for a marathon or want to build muscle mass.  Yes, there are proven techniques and training programs, but there isn’t one magic bullet that you should stick with for years on end.

Therefore, if you feel like doing cardio before weight lifting because you’re more into cardio, by all means do so, and vice versa.

Steve Vanderhoek contributes to the Fitness Baron blog which focuses on getting fit fast with popular articles on doing supersets and 10 minute workouts. He also contributes to which is all about using WordPress for publishing blogs.


Related Articles:

Should You Run on Your on Your Treadmill or Pick Up Your Dumbbells First?! Part One and Part Two

Is Doing Cardio Before Strength Training Bad? – via FitSugar

Before or After? When to Do Cardio in Your Weights Session