Marsh column: What is better, cardio before weights or after?
There are people who are determined to convince all of us that strength training before cardio is the only way to have a workout. Doing research on this matter, I found out, once again, that it is about a 50/50 split. Sometimes with sport specific exercises, you might want to do one before the other, such as building muscles. If that is your main focus, it should be your strength workout. When you are a runner, your running should be your main focus. But typically, it is whatever works for you. Personally, I have to do my cardio before my strength. My body is nice and warm and I get a great strength workout. To reverse that, it takes me a while to warm up, and when I finally am ready to do my run, I don’t get the performance I get when I run before my workout. Of course, most people can eliminate this “problem” by doing strength on one day and cardio on the other day.
This is what I have found out after my experience working with so many people with so many different fitness levels.
Which way do you feel is the better workout? Some want to do weights first because when they do their cardio before weights, they have nothing left to do strength. Then others have to do cardio first because they will have a better strength workout. As long as you take time to stretch at the end, it does not matter in which order you put your workout. By listening to your body and seeing what works best for you, you will see great improvements in your daily workouts. Make sure if you work out with weights daily to split your body parts up. Each body part needs 48 hours to recover properly from a strength workout.
As I mentioned earlier, separating your cardio workout from your strength workout would solve this “challenge”. However, it is better to work out three times a week for the rest of your life than to go crazy and work out 5-7 days a week and quit within a couple of months.
So what does this tell us? If you just listen to your body, it will tell you what works best for you.
For two weeks, I will be visiting my family in The Netherlands and will be back for Thanksgiving.
Ester H. Marsh, ACSM Cpt Health and Fitness Director JF Hurley Family YMCA