Let’s say your goal is to lose fat, build muscles as quickly and effectively as possible, and in order to do so – you’ve determined that you need to do both weight lifting and cardio. Now let’s also assume that you’re going to be doing both types of exercise on the same day as part of the same workout session. Now, the question arises – should you do cardio before or after weights?
For most people, if cardio and weights are going to be done during the same workout session, then weight lifting should be done first, followed by cardio. Why is it so, you may ask. The reason for it being – when you’re doing two types of exercise back-to-back, the one you do first will always have some degree of negative impact on the one you do second. Or, in other words, you’re going to be fresher, stronger, less fatigued, and more focused both physically and mentally for whatever form of exercise you do first, as compared to whatever form of exercise you do second. So, it simply boils down to starting with the one that matters the most. And that’s weights!
Why Does Weight Lifting Matter More Than Cardio?
What are your workout-related goals? Building muscle and losing fat, isn’t that right? For building muscle, cardio isn’t even remotely necessary. On the other hand, it’s purely optional. Weight lifting, on the other hand, is a requirement. For losing fat, cardio is once again completely optional, since everything that is truly needed can be accomplished through diet alone quite easily. And yes, one may say that weight lifting is optional for fat loss as well. However, it’s a requirement for the purpose of maintaining as well as building lean muscles while losing fat or building muscle while losing fat. Therefore, one form of exercise is a requirement for at least some part of what most people are trying to achieve in terms of healthy weight loss, and the other is entirely optional for all of it. And, for this reason alone, weights beat cardio in terms of importance. Moreover, from the point of view of performance, safety, and the amount of effort required, it also important to be at your physical and mental best while doing activities like squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, pull-ups, lunges, etc, as opposed to something like riding on a bike or jogging on a treadmill for 30-60 minutes while you listen to music or stare at a TV – something which does not require you to be more alert and focused.
But What About Warming-Up?
One important thing you might now be wondering about is the cardio warm-up, which is very vital before doing any weight lifting activities. This, of course, could be the short and easy aerobic warm-up you can do before lifting the weights for the purpose of raising your body temperature before beginning your actual workout. This could typically be something like a few minutes of jumping rope or a few minutes on a treadmill or bike. Should this type of thing also be done after weights? The answer is no – because this isn’t a cardio workout but a cardio warm-up – don’t confuse the two. A cardio workout is done at higher intensities and for a longer duration of time – for purposes such as burning calories or improving endurance, whereas a cardio warm-up is just a few minutes of light activity for the purpose of warming up before the actual workout starts.
So, a typical workout session should begin with a cardio warm-up, followed by weight lifting or weight training, and could end up with a cardio workout, if you have to do both cardio and weights in the same session.