Cardio Before or After Weight Lifting? Here’s Why The Answer Varies

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.

Cardio Before or After Weight Lifting? Here's Why The Answer Varies | UK Lifestyle Blog

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.

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When you want to build muscles

If your goal is the other way around, you should always start with a good weight-lifting session first, while you still have the energy for it. Those who have completed a good run and shakingly walk over to the weight-lifting room knows the feeling of drained energy.

You won’t be able to lift as much as you could have, you’ll be losing weight rather than building muscles, and will end up wishing that you had just stayed at home. Heading straight for the weights as soon as you enter the gym, on the other hand, and you’ll be ready for action and able to complete a lot more reps. It’s the kind of stuff bodybuilders love.

The most important thing to remember when you want to gain weight or boost your muscles is to eat enough afterward. Even if you did cardio before starting on the reps; eat a lot to avoid seeing your body consume all of your hard work – your muscles, that is.

Bring a shake with you to the gym so that you can start to restore as soon as your workout is complete; have a look at this article for a great guide to calorie-dense food your muscles will thank you for.

Again, the best choice is to divide the two sessions and allow your body to enjoy the benefits on separate days. If you find exercising a bit intimidating, it could be a good idea to start with cardio nonetheless – most people are more familiar with this type of exercise, and you shouldn’t let the weight lifters dictate your workout and make you avoid the gym altogether.

Author: Sam Charles

Meet Sam, the creator behind UK lifestyle blog, Strawberry Squeeze 🍓 Sam is a newlywed living in Cornwall studying her PgDip in Strategic Direction and Leadership with the Chartered Management Institute 🍕🐰 She's also the Founder + Director of multi-award-winning SEO & PPC agency, Float Digital ✨

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