Cardio vs. Strength Training: Which Should Come First?

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There are several reasons you might want to “weight” a few minutes before beginning your cardio. When it comes to the ongoing debate between starting your sweat with weights or cardio, some fitness experts contend that starting with strength training first helps build a leaner and stronger body. Here’s why:

You’ll Burn More Calories

According to exercise physiologist Marta Montenegro, CSCS, SFN, NSCA-CPT from Women’s Health in an article by K. Aleisha Fetters:

“’When you start your workout with weights, by the time you get to the treadmill or bike, your anaerobic energy systems will already be tapped out. This means your body will have to resort to burning fat to keep your aerobic system going strong,’ Montenegro says. ‘That means more calories burned, not just in the gym, but after your cool-down, too.’”

Less Risk of Injury

“Doing cardio first will induce fatigue that may compromise technique and possibly increase risk of injury,” explains Fabio Comana, Director of Continuing Education for the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Your EPOC isn’t as EPIC

When finishing your workout your body will continue to burn calories 48 hours after. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This after-burn effect occurs at a higher rate after an intense weight lifting session than cardio. When exhausted after an intense sprint, you might be too pooped to pop up those heavy dumbbells. A less effective weight training session = a less epic EPOC.

However, scientific studies aren’t conclusive enough to override personal preferences. A lot of people rush the treadmills because they prefer to get the cardio portion of the class over with, while others feel that running gets them warmed up for the heavy lifting to come. Starting on the floor not only has all the advantages mentioned above, but you also won’t  have to throw an elbow or push anybody out of the way to get a spot in your fitness class.



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