Oh cardio – You either love it or hate it. For me, admittedly, it’s the latter. I’ve always struggled to push myself to get my cardio in and I have learned to try a variety of activities to find something I can enjoy. These days, spin class or running stairs seems to do the trick! My personal motto has always been the best time to do cardio is anytime, as long as you’re actually doing it! Nothing too scientific about that. In the past couple weeks I have had a couple clients ask me the same question – when is the best time to do cardio, before or after my weight workout? So lets chat about that…..
I am a firm believer that cardio first thing in the morning followed by an afternoon or evening lifting session is a very effective way to burn fat and jump start your metabolism throughout the day. You can learn more about how I alternate my cardio and weight sessions in my Three Phase Program. If you don’t have the time to split up your cardio and weight routine you have a couple of options based on your goals
Goal: Building Strength
Recommendation: Cardio AFTER Weights
Why: When you start with weights your anaerobic system will be fairly tapped out by the time you finish. Once you start your cardio session your body will need to resort to burning fat to keep your aerobic system going. You need to have plenty of energy to complete an effective lifting session. If you do cardio before you lift you won’t have the energy you need to work as hard as you can! Save your energy for the first half of the workout but continue to burn fat when completing cardio after your weight session.
Goal: Burning Fat
Recommendation: Cardio BEFORE Weights
Why: Doing cardio first will help maximize your calorie burn during your workout as cardio typically burns more calories than moderate strength training. You can also expect to increase the amount of calories your body continues to burn even after your workout by maximizing your post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)
Goal: Full Body Conditioning
Recommendation: Alternate Cardio and Weight Days
Why: It would be ideal to alternate between intense strength training and cardio days to let the body benefit from each type of workout individually. Training purely for strength or endurance is highly effective. Now most of us don’t have that kind of time so finding a schedule and ideal combination that works best for you is the goal.
Cardiovascular activity is extremely important for your overall health so I go back to my personal motto of ‘just get it done’. If you have a very specific goal follow the recommendations above otherwise just make the time to get your sweat on, get that metabolism fired up and burn some unwanted calories!