Its a well known fact that strength training and cardio goes hand-in-hand for a completely fit body. You just can’t outweigh one over another and desire to achieve your fitness goal. Those treadmills and elliptical are as important as some heavy lifting to get that chiselled physique. But, when you have a time crunch and you need to pack both of them in single session, which would you perform first?

There are mixed opinions over this topic. Well I’d say, it depends on your goal. Here’s how:

If you want to get stronger – Do Strength first


It would seem to be an obvious choice but the science behind it is interesting. Lifting weights require a short burst of extreme effort just like sprinting and your muscles use an energy source other than oxygen to perform the exercise. Depending on your fitness level, your muscles can only tolerate a set amount of stress before getting fatigued. So, if you’ve used your energy in cardio first, there would be lesser amounts of energy left to build strength. According to study published in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, exercisers who did cardio activity before lifting weights had a significant decrement of upto 20 percent fewer repetitions for the same exercise.

If you want to lose weight – Do Strength first

You build muscles by resistance training. Muscles are better than fat because the more muscle you have, more calories you burn when you’re at rest.  Since, most of your daily energy expenditure is done through resting metabolism (BMR) it makes sense to have more muscles and hence you must carry out the strength training first. However, don’t skip cardio altogether because it will help you to lose more calories minute for minute than the strength training portion will.

If you want to get faster – Do Cardio first

It has been observed in studies that exercisers that do cardio after the strength session have an increased heart rate by upto 12 beats per minute. This means, running at same intensity and duration would feel bit harder than it actually was. Another study for James Cook University states that even a single strength session may reduce the performance of endurance athletes specifically, runners and cyclists fr several days after.

If you want to improve your balance – Do either Cardio or Strength training first

There has been no significant improvement observed in balance or agility by changing the sequence of cardio and strength exercises. In fact, flexibility and neuromuscular exercises have proven to be beneficial in improving agility. However, you can push the flexibility and neuromuscular exercises at the end.

Find what can help you achieve your goal

Every individual has their own goals and expectations from workout efforts. So, tailor them according to your goals. You can experiment with the sequence of the two exercises within the same workout. Then screen out the sequence that best suits you.

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