What Should I Do First Cardio Or Strength Training

by Daisy

Strength Training

Definition: Strength training, also known as resistance training or weight training, involves exercises designed to improve strength and endurance by exercising a muscle or a muscle group against external resistance. This can include free weights, resistance bands, or even bodyweight exercises.

Main Goals:

  • Increase Muscle Mass: Building muscle through hypertrophy.
  • Improve Strength: Enhancing the ability to exert force.
  • Boost Metabolism: Higher muscle mass leads to increased metabolic rate.
  • Bone Health: Improves bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

Effects on the Body:

  • Muscle Growth: Stimulates muscle hypertrophy.
  • Enhanced Metabolism: Increased lean body mass raises resting metabolic rate.
  • Improved Functional Strength: Enhances the ability to perform daily activities and reduces injury risk.
  • Better Body Composition: Reduces body fat percentage by increasing muscle mass.

Aerobic Exercise

Definition: Aerobic exercise, also known as cardiovascular exercise or cardio, involves prolonged physical activity that raises the heart rate and increases the body’s use of oxygen. Common forms include running, cycling, swimming, and walking.


Main Goals:

  • Improve Cardiovascular Health: Strengthening the heart and lungs.
  • Burn Calories: Effective for weight loss and fat burning.
  • Enhance Endurance: Improves stamina and aerobic capacity.
  • Mental Health: Releases endorphins that can reduce stress and improve mood.

Effects on the Body:

  • Cardiovascular Improvements: Strengthens the heart and improves blood circulation.
  • Weight Loss: Burns calories and helps in reducing body fat.
  • Enhanced Endurance: Increases the efficiency of the cardiovascular system.
  • Mood Enhancement: Promotes the release of feel-good hormones like endorphins.

Advantages of Strength Training and Aerobic Exercise

Benefits of Strength Training

  • Increased Muscle Mass: Helps in building and maintaining muscle, crucial for metabolism and overall strength.
  • Enhanced Metabolic Rate: More muscle mass leads to a higher resting metabolic rate, aiding in long-term weight management.
  • Bone Density Improvement: Reduces the risk of osteoporosis by stimulating bone growth.
  • Functional Strength: Improves the ability to perform everyday tasks, reducing the risk of injuries.
  • Better Body Composition: Helps in reducing body fat percentage while increasing muscle mass.
  • Improved Mental Health: Strength training can boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

  • Cardiovascular Health: Strengthens the heart and improves circulation, reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Weight Loss: Effective in burning calories and reducing body fat.
  • Increased Endurance: Enhances stamina, making daily activities easier and less tiring.
  • Mental Health Benefits: Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression through the release of endorphins.
  • Chronic Disease Prevention: Lowers the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers.
  • Improved Sleep Quality: Regular aerobic exercise can lead to better and more restful sleep.

Impact of Doing Aerobic Exercise or Strength Training First

Muscle Fatigue and Performance

  • Energy Availability: Starting with strength training ensures that you have sufficient energy and muscle glycogen to lift heavier weights and perform high-intensity exercises effectively.
  • Muscle Fatigue: If you begin with aerobic exercise, your muscles might be fatigued by the time you start strength training, potentially compromising form and increasing the risk of injury.
  • Exercise Intensity: Strength training first can lead to a more intense and focused workout since it typically requires more concentration and effort compared to aerobic exercise.

Energy Consumption and Weight Loss

  • Caloric Burn: Aerobic exercise tends to burn more calories during the workout, which might be beneficial if your primary goal is weight loss.
  • EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption): Strength training induces a higher EPOC, meaning you continue to burn more calories after the workout compared to aerobic exercise.
  • Fat Utilization: Doing aerobic exercise first can deplete glycogen stores, potentially leading to greater fat utilization during subsequent strength training.

Hormonal Responses

  • Growth Hormone and Testosterone: Strength training first can increase the release of anabolic hormones like growth hormone and testosterone, which are beneficial for muscle growth and repair.
  • Cortisol Levels: High-intensity aerobic exercise can increase cortisol levels, which, if done first, might inhibit muscle recovery and growth during subsequent strength training.

Expert Advice Based on Different Fitness Goals

Muscle Gain

  • Strength Training First: Prioritize strength training to ensure maximal effort and optimal performance in lifting heavier weights.
  • Supplement with Cardio: Incorporate moderate aerobic exercise after strength training or on alternate days to enhance cardiovascular health without compromising muscle gain.

Fat Loss

  • Balanced Approach: Consider starting with strength training to boost metabolism followed by aerobic exercise to burn additional calories.
  • Circuit Training: Combining both in a high-intensity circuit can be effective for burning fat and building muscle simultaneously.

Endurance Improvement

  • Aerobic Exercise First: Prioritize cardio to improve aerobic capacity and stamina.
  • Supplement with Strength Training: Include strength training sessions to build muscular endurance and prevent injuries.

See Also: Strength Training Vs Weight Training: What’s The Difference?

Personalized Training Suggestions


  • Alternate Days: Start with separate days for strength training and aerobic exercise to allow the body to adapt and recover.
  • Combination Workouts: Gradually introduce combination workouts, such as circuit training, as fitness improves.


  • Split Routine: Incorporate a mix of strength training and aerobic exercise within the same session, with a focus on the primary goal.
  • Periodization: Use periodization techniques to vary the focus between strength and endurance over different phases.


  • Goal-Specific Training: Tailor the order based on specific goals, such as muscle gain or endurance.
  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Combine both forms of exercise in high-intensity intervals to maximize calorie burn and fitness improvements.


By understanding the benefits and effects of both strength training and aerobic exercise, you can tailor your workout routine to meet your specific fitness goals, whether it’s muscle gain, fat loss, or endurance improvement. Expert advice and personalized suggestions can help you optimize your training and achieve better results.

Related topics:

Strength Training Vs Weight Training: What’s The Difference?

4 Best Strength Training Classes

6 Best Strength Training Workout At Home


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