Should I Lift Weights Before or After Cardio? The Definitive Workout Guide!


To lift or to do cardio first? Both approaches have benefits; it all relies on your fitness goals and personal preferences.

Lifting weights before cardio can be beneficial if your primary focus is building strength and muscle mass. By engaging in strength training first, you’ll have more energy and focus on executing proper form during your workouts.

Strength training also promotes efficient use of glycogen stores since you’ll tap into those during weightlifting and then move on to fat burning during cardio.

On the other hand, doing cardio before lifting weights may suit those who prioritize cardiovascular fitness and weight loss. Starting with cardio can improve your overall workout quality by increasing your body temperature and blood flow, which can lead to better performance during resistance training.

Additionally, cardio workouts can serve as a dynamic warm-up, reducing the risk of injuries during weightlifting sessions.

The Debate: Weights Before or After Cardio

The order in which you perform weights and cardio has been much discussed among fitness enthusiasts. Each approach has advantages; understanding these benefits can help you decide what suits your workout goals.

Benefits of Lifting Weights First

Strength training before cardio can boost muscle growth and improve overall performance. Focusing on weights first allows you to allocate more energy to challenging lifts and maintain proper form.

Additionally, engaging in strength training first can enhance your cardio performance after, as your body will utilize energy more efficiently. This could result in improved endurance and speed during your cardiovascular routine.

Benefits of Doing Cardio First

Starting with cardio can act as a warm-up for your muscles, preparing them for a more effective weight session. It can also promote endurance, allowing you to tolerate longer weight training sessions.

Increased heart rate and circulation from the cardio can optimize nutrient delivery and oxygen flow to your muscles, ultimately leading to better gains. Moreover, if your primary goal is to build endurance or lose fat, performing cardio first might be a more suitable choice.

When deciding on weights or cardio, it is essential to tailor your decision based on your individual goals. By understanding the benefits of each approach, you can optimize your workout routine to achieve maximum results.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Order

When deciding whether to perform weightlifting or cardio first, consider factors such as your individual fitness goals, age, health conditions, and workout intensity. These factors play a vital role in determining the effectiveness of your training routine.

Individual Fitness Goals

Your fitness goals should be the primary driver in choosing the exercise order. If building muscle mass and increasing strength are your main goals, perform weight training first, with cardiovascular exercises afterward. However, if improving cardiovascular health and endurance is your priority, start with cardio exercises before moving to weightlifting.

Age and Health Conditions

Age and any existing health conditions should be taken into account. As you age, your body’s recovery and adaptability can be affected, making it essential to prioritize the type of exercise most important for your overall health.


Consult a physician before designing an exercise routine for individuals with joint issues or heart conditions.

Workout Intensity

The intensity of your workout can also influence the order of exercises. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) or vigorous weightlifting sessions may require more energy, so starting with these exercises can help you maximize your performance.

On the other hand, should you prefer a lower-intensity workout, you might find it beneficial to ease into your session with a cardiovascular warm-up before moving on to resistance training.

Combining Cardio and Weight Training

When it comes to building strength and burning calories, combining cardio and weight training can maximize your results. Understanding the science behind their combination and adhering to best practices allows you to optimize your workouts for your fitness goals.

The Science Behind the Combination

Cardio and weight training target different aspects of your body: weight lifting builds muscle mass, while cardio promotes aerobic fitness. When performed together, they work synergistically to enhance your overall progress. By incorporating both types of exercise, you can maintain a balanced approach to fitness and minimize performance plateaus.

Weight training increases your resting metabolic rate, contributing to a more efficient calorie burn. However, excessive cardio may cause muscle protein breakdown, hindering muscle growth. Finding the right balance is critical to reaping the benefits of each.

Best Practices for Mixing Cardio and Weights

These guidelines can help you safely and effectively combine cardiovascular and weightlifting exercises:

  • Switch up the order: Depending on your focus, try alternating the order of your workouts. If muscle building is your primary goal, lift weights first and perform cardio later in the workout.
  • Prioritize recovery: Allowing your muscles time to rest and recover is vital to avoiding fatigue and injury. Ensure adequate rest days and manage the intensity of your workouts.

Combining cardio and weight training can be a highly effective way to achieve your fitness goals. Understanding the science behind the combination and following best practices can enhance your progress and help you enjoy a well-rounded workout regimen.

Different Types of Cardio for Weight Training

Here are some types of cardio you can try yourself in your weight training:

Walking and Treadmill

Walking is a low-impact activity perfect for individuals at any fitness level. Try incorporating a brisk walk or hill climbs for treadmill users to burn calories and boost cardiovascular health. Adjust the incline and speed to match your fitness level.

Cycling and Spinning

Cycling and spinning are great options if you enjoy achieving the dual benefits of cardio and leg strength. They can be done outdoors or in a gym. Sign up for a spinning class, or use a stationary bike to challenge your endurance and build lower body muscles.

Swimming and Water-Based Exercises

Swimming is a full-body workout that improves cardiovascular endurance without straining your joints. Water-based exercises like aqua jogging, aerobics, or pool-based strength training offer resistance training benefits while raising your heart rate.


Jump Rope and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

If you’re short on time, try jump rope or HIIT workouts for a quick but intense cardio boost. These exercises can be tailored to match your pace and intensity, aiming to challenge your agility, coordination, and stamina.

Incorporate these different types of cardio workouts into your weight training routine for maximum benefits, and remember to mix it up to keep it engaging and fun. This will ensure that your fitness regime remains both effective and enjoyable.

Sample Workout Routines for Different Goals

Designing your workout routine should be based on your individual goals. Below you’ll find some suggestions for different personal objectives:

Fat Loss

Consider performing moderate-intensity cardio for twenty to thirty minutes before weightlifting for fat loss. This helps burn extra calories and jumpstart your metabolism.

After cardio, focus on three to five compound exercises with eight to twelve reps each to maximize muscle activation and caloric expenditure. Rest for thirty to sixty seconds between sets.

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench Press
  • Pull-ups

Muscle Mass and Strength

Incorporate high-intensity cardio after your weightlifting sessions to build muscle mass and strength.

Begin with a five to ten-minute warm-up and then perform strength training exercises focusing on three to five sets of four to six reps using heavier weights. Rest for two to four minutes between sets.

  • Front Squats
  • Sumo Deadlifts
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Weighted Chin-ups

Overall Fitness and Health

A balanced approach is key if your goal is overall fitness and improved health.

Perform moderate-intensity cardio for twenty to thirty minutes before lifting weights. After cardio, focus your weightlifting sessions on three sets of functional exercises with eight to twelve reps each.

  • Push-ups
  • Lunges
  • Rows
  • Planks

Additional Tips and Considerations

Here are some additional tips and considerations when lifting weights and doing cardio.

Warm-Up and Recovery

Before beginning any exercise routine, it’s crucial to warm up to avoid injury properly. Dynamic stretching and light cardio will help prepare your muscles for the upcoming workout.

In addition, allowing proper recovery time is essential for muscle growth and preventing injury. Schedule rest days or alternate the muscle groups you focus on to give your body time to recover and rebuild.

Seeking the Advice of a Personal Trainer

Consulting a personal trainer can provide valuable guidance in achieving your fitness goals. They can help you create a personalized plan incorporating weightlifting, cardio, and other exercises, like yoga, kettlebells, or cardiovascular workouts promoting fat burning and weight loss.

Incorporating Variety and Changing Things Up

Variety is essential for optimal results and can help prevent boredom and plateaus. Consider alternating between different types of cardio, such as running, swimming, or cycling, and experimenting with various weightlifting exercises that target different muscle groups, such as leg, core, or upper body workouts.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, periodically changing your routine can help improve muscle strength and cardiovascular health. When weightlifting, ensure you;

  • Ensure you warm up and prioritize recovery to prevent injury and support muscle growth.
  • Consult a personal trainer for expert guidance and a tailored fitness plan that suits your goals.
  • Switch up your routine by incorporating various exercises to prevent stagnation and maximize results.

Final Thoughts

Whether you lift weights before or after cardio ultimately depends on your goals and preferences.

If you’re primarily focused on building strength and muscle, completing your weightlifting session before engaging in cardio is generally advisable. On the other hand, should you be more interested in improving your cardiovascular endurance or burning calories, doing cardio before lifting weights may be a better option.

Regardless of your chosen order, ensure that you adequately warm up before your activity to help prevent injuries and improve performance. Also, give your body enough time to rest and recover between workouts to maximize your progress and minimize the risk of overtraining.

Remember, consistency in both cardio and strength training is crucial to achieving your fitness goals. Experiment with the order of your workouts to find the optimal balance that works best for you, and make adjustments as necessary.

Ultimately, the most important factor is staying committed to your exercise routine and continuing to challenge yourself in the weight room and during cardio sessions.

Frequently Ask Questions

Which burns more calories: weightlifting or cardio?

Typically, cardio activities burn more calories per minute than weightlifting. However, combining both can maximize your overall calorie expenditure and lead to more effective fat loss.

Is doing weights and cardio on the same or alternate days better?

It depends on your goals and schedule. Combining weights and cardio in one workout can be efficient if you’re short on time. However, consider alternating days for adequate recovery if your focus is muscle building.

What are the benefits of doing weights before cardio?

Lifting weights before cardio can improve your strength and power output. This approach also allows you to maintain proper form during strength exercises, reducing the risk of injury.

What are the benefits of doing cardio before weights?

Performing cardio first may increase your cardiovascular endurance during weightlifting, which could lead to increased calorie burning. Additionally, some people find that cardio exercise improves focus for a more effective weightlifting session.

Ultimately, the best approach for you will depend on your unique goals, preferences, and fitness level.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *