Which First, Cardio or Strength Training?

Cardio or Strength TrainingA Common Fitness Question


As a personal trainer you can imagine I get many of the same workout related questions over and over.

One of those questions that are very common is “which should I do first, my cardio or strength training?”

What I find interesting is the amount of people who initially think they should be doing cardio first? It seems like anyone who has never exercised before comes to the same conclusion… “cardio first, right?”

Could This be the Problem?

I think I know where the problem lies. It has to do with personal trainers in gyms.

Let me explain,

You see back when I was personal training in a big box club, we often would ask our clients to warm-up on a treadmill or elliptical before the session starts. This way the client could get the whole 30 minutes or 1 hour of personal training in.

How a Newbie Thinks

I think what new people at the gym saw or imagined was a client doing cardio first and then strength training after.

So beginners think they should do 30 minutes of cardio and then 30 minutes of weights. Funny enough but these are the thoughts that are going through brand new exercise enthusiasts heads.

This is the Problem Actually

The problem with this is that when you burn all those calories through cardio, you lose a lot of your energy. When it comes to lifting weights you will probably be able to perform at 75% of what you normally do. Doing cardio beforehand also depletes your body of any stored carbs or fat – which are “energy’s” best friend.

If you have no carbs or fat in your system, guess where your body goes for energy?  Your muscles. That is not a good thing because you are trying to build your muscles to raise your metabolism in order to torch body-fat.

So, Which First?

So, when it comes to your actually workout and you are wondering which to do first, cardio or strength training – you now know. Strength training 1st. Always do a small warm-up initially for about 3 – 7 minutes before starting your weights. Preferably a dynamic warm-up to help mimic some of the moves you might be doing.

You want to be as close to full energy as you can get so you maximize your workout and perform at your best. This will help you push or pull as much weight as you can safely for the best results. Aim to strength train at 75% of your 1 rep max so you can get roughly 10 repetitions in.

You can always do cardio after your strength training because cardio doesn’t require a lot of maximum effort. More endurance effort but that would be at 70% of your max heart rate.

Get Strength Training Guidance

If you need help in customizing your fitness program, and showing you the difference between cardio or strength training – contact us to help you get started —-> Your Tailored Approach


by Robert Foster, transformation expert.



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