When you walk into the gym what do you hit first, the cardio machines or the weights?
If you have ever pondered this and been unsure which is best, you are not alone. A recent study into the impact of the variation of training order, in relation to cardio or strength training aimed to give us some answers, and found the following results:
- Strength training first: Performing strength training before cardio training in a workout was shown to allow greater improvements in strength over time. This appeared to be because the reduced amount of fatigue allowed for training with greater weight at more reps and with better form.
- Cardio first: Performing cardio before or after strength training did not appear to affect the levels of improvement in cardiovascular fitness. Whilst cardiovascular fitness improvement did not appear to be affected, technique and overall performance could be affected by a previous strength training session.
So the key takeaway here is that choosing to prioritise strength or cardio training first really depends on what your goals are.
If strength gains are your main goal, then performing strength training as the first part of your workout (after a warmup) will get you the best results. If you are training for a cardio specific event or sport then prioritise that kind of relevant cardio training to maximise your performance and results.
If you are just training for general fitness though, mix it up!
The small performance improvements that can be achieved by doing a specific type of training before or after another are relatively small and only worth pursuing if you have very specific training goals. If you are just looking to get generally fitter and healthier, keep your workouts varied and mix up your training order so that your workouts don’t become stale and boring. It’s more important to be doing something than the exact right thing!