In an ideal world, cardio and weight training workouts would be on completely different days. However, let’s face it; in the real world, this isn’t always possible. With work, social and family commitments, among so many other things we have to fit into our already busy schedules, we don’t always have the luxury of time to spread our workouts over.
THE BENEFITS OF CARDIO AND WEIGHT TRAINING
Whether your goal is fat loss, gaining muscle mass, conditioning or improving your general fitness, cardio is an important part of your training programme. It elevates heart rate, improves the functioning of the heart and lungs and can even increase bone density. Therefore, it’s not something that shouldn’t be avoided completely.
However, for many goals – unless you’ve got endurance/long distance event ambitions – weight training is likely to be more effective. Why? With weight training sessions, you burn calories both during and after your workout which, as a result, increase your metabolism and increase your muscle mass. Much more so than any cardio performed for a long duration would.
So, if neither should be eliminated, when training both aerobically (cardio) and anaerobically (weight training) in the same session, which should take priority?
THE MOST EFFECTIVE ORDER
Science suggests anaerobic first, aerobic second. This is because glucose (or blood sugar) is the preferred fuel for the short, intense muscle contractions you perform when weight training, and as you complete your workout, your body gradually uses up its supply.
If you were to do cardio first, you would use up the body’s glucose stores (which are required for a quality weight training session) and then force your body to weight train using a less powerful fuel source – fat.
When blood sugar levels are diminished, the body puts itself into a ‘fat-burning’ mode, turning to fat for energy. The process of using fat for energy is one that takes time, and while fat isn’t a fuel that works effectively when weight training, it is one that can aid cardiovascular training.
Put simply… training with weights first, when you have the most energy, will mean you can give more to your workout by using your glucose stores where they are most effective. Five or so minutes of cardio to warm up before your weights is often necessary to get your body moving, but save your full cardio training until afterwards.