I get asked this question often by readers….should I do cardio or weights first? Well, the answer is complicated….IT DEPENDS!!! I know you hate that, but that’s why weight loss and maintenance is so tricky. There isn’t one answer for a question like this!
What are your goals? Are you losing weight? If your goal is to lose weight and not necessarily to gain muscle, then it really doesn’t matter, but I’ll still help you decide…keep reading. You can do them in any order or split them up. As long as you’re in the gym, burning calories, keeping your hear rate up, doing cardio and lifting weights during the week (not too light, ladies…lift ‘em!!) then you’ll be achieving the desired results! So, do what feels best and in the order that works best for you that day! Also, keep in mind that if you always do your cardio first, you may not have as much energy for your weights, so you might want to think about doing lighter cardio workouts on the days you lift shoulders, for example, if you’re working on building strength in your shoulders!
What’s your favorite? If you’re like me, you love to lift weights and hate doing cardio. OR you may be the exact opposite. Are you likely to finish your ___ workout and then skip the ____ workout? I AM!!! If I save my cardio for the end, I am very likely to skip cardio altogether and just leave, rationalizing that I’ll come back later (not so much) or that I kept my heart rate up high enough! For me….if I’m doing cardio and weights all at the same time, I have to start with cardio AND I really need to do this at every workout. I tend to skip cardio if I only have cardio to do. SO, I do MUCH better if I do both…cardio & weights….at every workout….in that order!
What are your goals? Are you gaining muscle? If you’re working on gaining muscle, you’ll want to limit cardio or cut it out altogether for a period of time, until you feel like you’ve gained enough muscle and can start working on cutting the fat you gained in the process….this process is a fun and interesting balance for women! So, you won’t want to do cardio before or after your weights workout because you’ll need to do your weights and get your protein/carb post workout meal and not burn off that muscle you’re working so hard to build!
Can you make it to the gym for two-a-days? Oh two-a-days….my least favorite thing EVER! Unless you have an empty schedule and just love being at the gym, it’s hard for me to get to the gym TWICE a day! I even bought a bike…LOVE my bike! That way I could do my [FUN!!!] cardio at home and then only GO to the gym once a day for my weights. That is still hard for me! I have to shower twice. I have to have my hair up all day (I can’t wash my hair twice a day….I have curly hair so I wash it every OTHER day!) due to the helmet so I can’t look good except for the short time after I shower and style my hair every other day….requires tons of planning ahead to go anywhere! I have to wash TWICE as many workout clothes, etc. It’s tough for me! BUT IT’S IDEAL!!! After every workout you burn more calories. There is a limit to how much “afterburn” you’ll get from each workout, but if you workout twice a day, you’ll get twice as much “afterburn” and raise your metabolism even more to keep up with all of your activity. Make sure to fuel your extra workouts! And, don’t burn yourself out! I have done this where I workout SO hard for a few weeks or months doing these two-a-days and I neglect everything else in my life and then…..I just want to quit working out for a while. This is a BAD strategy! It’s just like a starvation diet and then binging or the same thing with finances….I discussed both here. If you can do this with balance…it really is the best for losing weight!
Can you vary your diet on certain days of the week? You can always do a split of cardio M/W/F and weights on T/Th/Sat for example. As I explained on my PWO nutrition post though…..your body is better able to process carbs after a weights workout SO for me, I prefer lifting more often than not AND like I said earlier, I have a hard time doing cardio at the gym (I do love my quiet, bike rides) and we all know that some of the best cardio can be walking at an incline on the treadmill or doing stadiums……whoa! The burn! It’s best if you can lower your carbs on the days that you only do cardio….but that’s tough! And not as much fun! If you’re someone who loves carbs every day of the week, it may be best to lift every day and add cardio into the same workout (or a two-a-day) and make sure your biggest carb meal is after your weights workout!
Did I answer your questions? Did I create anymore questions?
What’s your favorite order of cardio & weights? Do you split your days? WHY?
Did this post change your mind? Whatcha thinkin’? Share in the comments below!!