Strength training and cardio are two of the most popular types of exercise. Both have their unique benefits, and many fitness enthusiasts want to know which one they should do first – strength training or cardio exercises.
The answer is not a simple one, as it depends on several factors like your fitness goals, physical condition, and workout routine. In this article, we will take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of performing strength training and cardio exercises first, followed by some tips for creating an effective workout plan.
What is Strength Training?
Strength training involves using resistance to increase muscle strength, size, and endurance. It typically involves lifting weights, using resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises like push-ups and squats.
One of the primary benefits of strength training is an increase in lean muscle mass. This, in turn, can boost your metabolism, improve bone density, and enhance your overall physical performance. Additionally, strength training can help prevent injuries, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and improve mental health.
What is Cardio Exercise?
Cardio exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, includes any activity that increases your heart rate and breathing rate. Examples include running, cycling, swimming, and jumping rope.
Cardio exercise has numerous health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, increasing lung capacity, boosting mood, and reducing stress levels. It can also aid in weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity, making it an essential part of any fitness routine.
Should You Do Strength Training or Cardio First?
The order in which you perform strength training and cardio exercises can impact the effectiveness of your workout. Here are some factors to consider when deciding which to do first:
Your fitness goals play a significant role in deciding whether to do strength training or cardio first. If your goal is to build muscle and gain strength, it’s best to start with strength training. On the other hand, if you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular health or lose weight, starting with a cardio workout may be more beneficial.
If you’re short on time but want to get the most out of your workout, consider combining strength training and cardio exercises in one session. However, if you prefer to focus on one type of exercise at a time, it’s best to do whichever is your priority first.
Your current physical condition can also impact which exercise you should do first. If you have any pre-existing injuries or muscle imbalances, starting with a light cardio warm-up can help prepare your muscles for strength training. Conversely, if you’re feeling fatigued or lack energy, a quick cardio session can help boost your energy levels before diving into strength training.
Pros and Cons of Doing Strength Training First
Strength training is an excellent way to build muscle, improve bone density, and prevent injuries. Here are some pros and cons of doing strength training first:
Increases muscle strength and size
Improves bone density
Enhances physical performance
Reduces the risk of chronic diseases
Improves mental health
Fatigue can impact cardiovascular performance during subsequent cardio exercises
May not provide the same cardiovascular benefits as a dedicated cardio workout
Can increase the risk of injury if done improperly or without proper rest between workouts
Pros and Cons of Doing Cardio First
Cardio exercise has numerous health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, reducing stress levels, and aiding in weight loss. Here are some pros and cons of doing cardio first:
Improves cardiovascular fitness and lung capacity
Aids in weight loss and fat burning
Reduces stress levels and boosts mood
Provides a good warm-up for subsequent strength training exercises
Improves insulin sensitivity
Can fatigue your muscles before strength training, making it harder to lift heavy weights or perform high-intensity exercises
May not provide the same strength-building benefits as a dedicated strength training workout
Overdoing cardio can lead to muscle loss and reduce your overall metabolic rate
Creating an Effective Workout Plan
Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of doing strength training or cardio first, let’s look at how to create an effective workout plan:
Determine Your Fitness Goals
Before starting any workout routine, it’s essential to determine your fitness goals. Are you looking to build muscle, lose weight, or improve cardiovascular health? Once you’ve identified your goals, you can tailor your workout plan accordingly.
Create a Balanced Routine
A balanced workout routine should include both strength training and cardio exercises. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week and two to three days of strength training targeting major muscle groups.
Decide on the Order of Exercise
Deciding on the order of exercise depends on your fitness goals and physical condition. If building muscle is your priority, start with strength training. However, if improving cardiovascular health is your goal, begin with a cardio warm-up.