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 Cardio Before Weights

The Cardio (🐔) Or The Weights (🥚)?

For those of you that don’t realize the importance of doing both, realize it now! Without muscle, you won’t be moving your body anywhere, and without a heart that has endurance, you’ll be tired after your 3rd rep. You need strong biceps and a healthy heart to live a high-quality life. But which one should you do first? Can you burn more calories with one? More fat with the other? Get to your goals faster? You’ve probably procrastinated your workouts hours just thinking about this.  Well procrastinate no more…it’s time to get in there 

Let’s Get To The Gym!

Q: What’s the difference between Cardio vs. Weight workouts?

A: Cardio is short for cardiovascular. Cardiovascular is mainly your hearts, veins, and arteries (blood vessels). With cardio workouts, you’re giving those areas the “workout”. Your heart and veins/arteries can’t lift anything to get stronger.  But they can be stressed with exertion, making it do more of what it does, pumping blood around the body, the stress makes it stronger

Q: What about Weights?

A: The technical terms for weights, is resistance training. You are making your body resist against some sort of force, that force is usually a weight. You can push against something, pull it, twist it, whatever, but you’re stressing your muscles to perform some sort of action. Instead of the heart getting all the stress, it’s the muscles. And just like the heart when stressed, the muscle gets stronger as it gains the ability to handle more stress. 

Q: Why do both?

A: Simply, you need both to live. Imagine being able to lift heavy weight but having to rest 20min before each rep or having all the endurance you need, but not having the strength to absorb the shock of the ground with every step. These are dramatic examples, but you get the point, you may not need to focus equally on each, but you need to make time for both types of training. 

Q: Which one do I do first?

A: Tricky question, because it all depends on your goals. The key is, depending on what your goal primarily requires or is most efficient at performing (don’t worry, I’ll give examples), that is the exercise you want to do first. Remember, which one you do first, is typically the one that gets your most/best energy, focus, and effort. Here are my suggestions and why..

Q: Building muscle, getting stronger

A: Get to the weights. Proper weightlifting requires focus and energy. The injury risk of pooping out with a 50lb dumbbell over your head is different than a treadmill that is bit too fast (you can just step off or turn down quickly). Plus, weightlifting will be less taxing on your endurance, so you’ll have the ability to have a pretty good cardio session after. Tip: best days to hit the cardio hard are the days you do upper body workouts. 

Q: Endurance goals, cardiovascular risks 

A: Obviously, cardio. The heart needs greater volume and frequency to get stronger. It doesn’t get “sore”, but it does get tired. The cardiovascular system needs to become more efficient at what it does (i.e. pump blood) and have endurance (i.e. transport/use oxygen better). So slow, progressive, consistent training is key. 

Q: Losing Weight

A: For the first 85% of your weight loss goal – Cardio. For the last 10-15% – Weights.  For the same level of effort, Cardio training will always burn more calories than Weight training. Weight loss is about a calorie deficiency, either you eat less or burn more…or do both.  But for the last 10-15% of your goal, it’s going to be best to focus on body composition, Weights changes how your body functions, making it more metabolically active. 

Q: Maintaining Weight

A: Hit the weights. Muscle is the engine that burns the fuel (calories) that you consume. It has a lot of capacity and can take on a fluctuating diet. If you do not want to keep watching or counting your calories, build muscle, it will be the buffer for those binges, off the wagon weekends, and guys weekends ;) 

Q: Older individuals (60+)

A: Weights.  At 60+, it is more important than ever that build (not easy) and prevent the loss of lean muscle mass and bone density.  Most deaths occur because of a fall and fracture. Nothing beats lifting weights to build these areas. It can also help to preserve and increase range of motion, improve stability/balance, and improve hormonal health. 

Q: Parting thoughts?

A: Always enjoy your workouts, or you won’t stick to them! For most of us, we just need to keep in shape, so choose ones you enjoy and do them consistently. If you’re uncomfortable with weights, but need to build muscle, do a little bit of enjoyable cardio before, and then hit the weights. Don’t stress, the main thing is you’re in there and moving around consistently.