Ester Marsh column: Cardio before weights or vice-versa?

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 26, 2016

Someone asked me the other day, “What is better, cardio before weights or after?”

There are people who are adamant that strength training before cardio is the only way to have a workout. Doing research on this matter, I found out 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, running should be your main focus but typically it’s whatever works best for you. Personally, I have to do my cardio before my strength training. That way, 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 many people with 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 do 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? When we just listen to our body, it will tell us what works best!

Ester H Marsh Associate Executive Director JF Hurley Family YMCA