What should you do first, cardio or strength training, and why? Should you engage in cardio and strength training on the same day at all? Though both issues are hotly debated, science has clear answers.
Cardio Vs Strength Training: Which First?
Should you do cardio or strength training first if you are already determined to do both on the same day? People in the fitness world could engage in endless discussions about this issue, both sides arguing that their approach is right with equal passion. However, the simple fact is that there is no right or wrong answer here. The best approach for you depends on your ultimate fitness goals.
Research shows that whatever workout you engage in first gets the most attention — something that actually boils down to common sense. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that those people who engaged in either running or cycling prior to their strength training did fewer reps. It also logically followed that those reps would be performed less well: do you do better when you're dog-tired, or when your body and mind are still fresh, in any activity? There you go.
If your goal is to build muscle and strength, there's no doubt that going for weight lifting first is the choice for you. If you happen to actually enjoy cardio more, there is also something to be said with ending your workout with the activity you like best:
If your goal is endurance, because you are training for a marathon for instance, you may prefer to go for cardio first. The same principle is at work here. The activity that is most essential to your aims deserves to get the best of you, to get you in the prime of your energy.
I terms of weight loss, if that is what you are aiming for, you need both strength training and cardio. There is no indication that the order in which you choose to do them has any impact on the outcome in this realm.
Should You Do Cardio And Strength Training On The Same Day At All?
That's another hotly-debated issue right there. Thankfully, again, there's research to point to so we don't have to wonder. The verdict is that the idea that doing cardio and strength training on the same day (AKA combined workouts) somehow hampers your muscle development is nothing but a myth.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that combined strength and cardio workouts and cardio or strength training days only had the exact same effects. In other words, what you choose for yourself comes down to nothing more than personal preference and the subjective experience of what makes you feel better.
If you do combined workouts, just keep the old "focus on the workout that meets your primary goals first" advice in mind. If you choose to separate cardio and strength training into separate days, you could again choose to reserve the days on which you know you have more energy fir the workout that furthers your main aim.
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