The gyms are opening back up and you’re about to start your new training program. You know, just trying to drop a few pounds after quarantine and get back your general physical fitness.
Chances are, you’ll be doing workouts that include a mix of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise to maximize your bodily benefits. But which one should you do first: weights? Or cardio?
There have been claims that lifting weights prior to doing cardiovascular exercise can result in increased fat loss due to shifts in energy metabolism. According to this theory, resistance training “uses up” all of the glycogen stored in your muscles, so your body has no choice but to immediately tap into fat storage to fuel your subsequent cardio session.
This idea of catapulting the body into fat-burning mode is actually somewhat supported in the literature, such as in this study (Kang et al, 2009) which showed increased levels of fat-oxidation in subjects who performed high-intensity resistance training prior to aerobic exercise, as well as in this study (Goto et al, 2007) which showed signs of increased lipolysis as well as fat oxidation in a similar setting.
Whether these acute responses translate to significantly increased fat loss over time has yet to be seen, and just because something works in the lab doesn’t mean it’ll be the perfect solution for you. I encourage you to make a decision not only based on the research, but also based on your own priorities, preferences, and goals.
Aside from increasing your chances of fat loss, here are 2 things you should consider:
Moderate amounts of cardio and lifting have been shown not to significantly interfere with each other when both are implemented in a training program; in fact, it is possible to improve performance in both realms-- a concept known as the “concurrent training effect.” But at higher intensities and when performed within the same workout, this concept may not hold up. Think about it this way: you likely won’t PR your back squat after running a 5k, and you likely won’t get your best 5k time if you max out on squats first. This makes logical sense and has also been backed up by research (Kang & Ratamess, 2014).
By keeping this concept in mind, you’ll be able to hit the weights or the treadmill while you’re fresh vs. when you’re fatigued later on in the workout, allowing you to progressively overload the movements more efficiently and see more progress in less time.
Remember, what works for a group of research subjects, a fitness influencer, your best friend, or a world record-breaking powerlifter may not necessarily be the perfect solution for YOU. I hope this video cleared up some confusion and helped you make a more informed decision. As always, drop your questions below and tag a friend who YOU think needs to hear this!
~*Test your knowledge*~