Getting a cardiovascular workout in is equally as important as incorporating weight training. So, if you are at the gym to do both cardio and weightlifting, which do you do first? The answer: always start with weight training before moving on to cardio. This may seem like it isn’t a big deal, but the effects of doing cardio first could actually be robbing you of seeing the gains you deserve.
Your muscles’ source of energy during a workout is glycogen. This goes for both cardio and weightlifting workouts, however cardio workouts generally deplete more glycogen than weightlifting. So, if you perform strenuous cardio first, you could be depleting your entire glycogen reserve before you move on to weights. As mentioned, during weight training you will not need as much glycogen, but you will still need some, especially in order to reach your peak performance. The time that your muscles are really growing is during the last 2-3 reps, but you have to have the energy to perform them to really make them count!
Another key reason to do your cardio last is its effect on protein synthesis. After a cardiovascular workout, your protein synthesis dramatically drops. Basically, your body’s ability to build muscle during your weight training session will be impaired, making it counteractive to your efforts. By performing the weightlifting portion of your routine first, you can help to prevent this from happening.
We want to reiterate that cardio is still a very important aspect of your workout, however. It helps to promote a healthy heart and maintain blood pressure and weight. No matter what your fitness goals are, leaving it out entirely would be a mistake! Just be sure to keep in mind the timing and order of your workouts so that you don’t waste your energy without getting results.