It doesn’t matter what your aim is when you’re hitting the weights – whether you’re looking to build up your muscle mass or if you’re trying to reduce the amount of body fat – cardio is a very helpful factor and tool that needs to be utilized. It can help ensure you’re burning enough calories to create your deficit and can help you maintain your shape from that point on.
But when is the best time to include this in your weight training? Is it better to do cardio before or after you’ve hit the weights?
Doing Cardio before Weights
No matter what kind of work outs you’re doing, if you’re looking to change your body shape, be it through defining your muscles or trimming off the extra body fat, you need to make sure that you’re putting the strength and resistance training as your top concern.
This means that you need to put your all in to your strength training, there’s no point in going into it half tired with aching muscles because you’ve just pushed yourself to new highs in your cardio routine. Cardio, especially high intensity, puts strain on your muscles and ups the toxins and acidity that’s in your blood by trying to make up for the depletion of oxygen it’s currently suffering. Not only are you physically tired, but your concentration will also be off meaning that you’ll find it easier to injure yourself, potentially ruining any additional weight training across other days.
Doing Cardio after Weights
A common idea is that if you do your cardio directly after you’ve put down the weights then you’ll push your body to burn even more fat than if you took a break in between the two work outs. The idea behind this is that you’d have burnt through your body’s store of fuel and it’ll then be forced to instead break down body fat to keep itself fuelled through your extra workout.
This isn’t completely accurate. It’s unlikely that a long weight session will use up every easily-available fuel source in the body. It’s also very difficult to force the body to break down fat and use that if there are other alternatives. Doing a cardio session after weights can be a good thing if you’re trying to minimise your session times and keep them completely efficient, and can also mean you’re balancing yourself correctly and working out other muscle groups that might not have got enough attention during a weight training circuit.
It’s best to avoid cardio before a weight training session if you’re really looking to build muscle mass as you won’t be able to put your all into it and your muscles won’t be stimulated.
As for cardio after a weight session – it depends on each individual person. While this is fine and won’t do any damage, you need to ensure you’re not pushing your body to limits that it can’t easily recover from.