A lot of people wonder if they should hit the treadmill right away or focus on building muscles. It’s such a simple question, yet the answers bounce in either direction; where the weight-loss expert advise you to do your cardio after lifting weights, the bodybuilders are preaching a workout that works the other way around. It’s no wonder we’re confused and inclined to stop taking anyone seriously at all.
Here is, finally, the scientific explanation for all the confusion, making your weekly workouts a bit more manageable.
The hard stuff
When you exercise cardio, you impact the cells in your body differently than when you’re building muscles. Cardio increases your endurance and is wonderful news for your cardiovascular health, so it makes sense that the cellular changes your body requires to adapt to resistance training – which happens when you’re lifting weights – looks a bit different.
Heading from a sweaty session on the treadmill to a hefty session with weights means that the two stimuli would like to cancel each other out. You’ll usually end up with a bit of improvement in both areas, both with regards to building strength and to increase your endurance, but not as much as you could have had.
It’s no reason to give up on either yet, though, as you can reap the complete benefits of both workouts by simply dividing it up. Focus on cardio exercise on one day, for example, and let your body build strength and resistance on another day.
Easier said than done with a busy schedule? That’s when you need to know which one to do first and why you should be considering all of this in the first place.
When you want to lose weight
Back in the days, everyone talked about burning that weight off by running. Then it became trendy to bulk up a bit, and people preached weight-lifting and #TeamNoCardio; it’s no wonder we’re confused. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, it’s useless to only lift weights – per minute, cardio burns the most calories and should be your exercise of choice when you’d like the scale to show a lower number rather than a higher one.
The cardio will deplete our body’s supply of glycogen which makes it more likely to help itself to your more long-term storage of energy, such as fat. Combine a long run with a healthy diet and control your calorie intake with dieting shakes to reach your goals; just remember that weight loss is, of course, a permanent commitment and about finding the right balance.
It means, of course, that you need to be easier on yourself when lifting weights afterward. You’ll be tired after a long run and have less energy to spend on heavy lifting, so keep it short and sweet to avoid injuries.