Whenever i get asked this question, my answer is always, well it depends on:-
- what your fitness goals are. Your training and exercise program should be shaped around your desired fitness goal. Meaning you need to first decide what you want to achieve before planning your workout routine. Not the other way around. Its like asking "Are bicep curls good exercise?" Not if you don't want your biceps to grow.
- How intense your cardio session is going to be. Is it just going to be a 5 minute jog or a 45 minute jog. You need to take this into consideration as well when making your decision.
So when would you do Cardio BEFORE weights?
- If you are a marathon runner and your goal is to increase your endurance, then YES, give your cardio session the attention it needs. If your goal is endurance, there is a high chance that you are just doing weights to shape up and firm up your muscles. So in this case, you would want to do your cardio first.
- I know of some people who like to warm up by jogging on the treadmill for about 5 minutes, before hitting the weights. This is fine, though it would not be my preferred method of warming up. But to each his own. But please don't jog for 30 minutes and say it is a warm up.
- Lifting weights requires you to maintain proper form through out the ROM. If you have already taxed your body physically with a 45 minute run, it becomes that much more difficult to maintain proper form, since your body is already exhausted. This also means higher risk of injury. Imagine trying to squat 100kgs after a 40 minute run.
- If you are lifting weights, i am assuming you are lifting heavy. To lift heavy, you are going to need all the energy you have. Especially for pushing out those last 2 or 3 reps when you feel like you just can't do anymore. After a 45 minute run, you will not be able to lift as heavy or push yourself as much as you would. In other words, your lift becomes a secondary workout, because your main focus was cardio
- Personally, i find it easier to do weights and then run compared to the other way around. Whether its a psychological preference or an actual physical conditioning, i am not sure. But i just find it easier to do it this way
Unless your weight training routine consists of you swinging some light dumbbells around like a magic wand, for all other purposes, it is still recommended that you do your weight training FIRST and then followed by your cardio. For me personally, i don't like doing too many things at one go. I like to keep my workouts to an hour or just slightly less. Hence this is why i have muscle gain days and weight loss days. On muscle gain days, i focus on just building muscle and on my weight loss days... well i focus on burning fat. Meaning i don't mix cardio and weight training on the same day, let alone one after the other. However, there are some times, when i do go for a jog on my muscle gain days, but it is done much much later in the evening. Spreading out your workout like this would be the best technique, rather than one followed by the other. But if you lack time and want to spend 30 minutes on weights and 30 minutes on the treadmill, go with the weights first.
What is your take on this big question? Or which one do you prefer? As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.