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Cardio Before or After Weights: Best Workout Order Explained

When it comes to maximizing the benefits of your workout, a common question arises: Should you do cardio before or after weights? The answer is that it largely depends on your individual goals and preferences. In this article, we’ll delve into the science behind the optimal workout order and help you determine which approach is best for you.

Cardio Before Weights: Pros and Cons


1. Warming up: Doing cardio before weights can serve as an effective warm-up, increasing blood flow and preparing your muscles for the resistance training to come.

2. Improved endurance: If your primary goal is to improve cardiovascular endurance, performing cardio first may help you focus more on this aspect of your workout.

3. Higher Calorie Burn: If getting in and out of the gym with the sole objective of burning Calories is for you, then completing cardio first could be the best option. Generally speaking weightlifting burns between 90 and 126 calories in 30 minutes, while running burns up to 500 calories in the same time. 


1. Decreased strength: Cardio before weights can potentially reduce your strength and power during resistance training due to fatigue, leading to a less effective weightlifting session (1).

2. Increased risk of injury: Pre-fatiguing your muscles through cardio may increase the likelihood of injury during weightlifting, particularly if you are lifting heavy weights or performing complex movements.

Cardio After Weights: Pros and Cons


1. Improved strength and muscle growth: By performing weightlifting first, you can maximize your strength, power, and muscle-building potential without being overly fatigued from the cardio performed before. (2).

2. Increased fat loss: Research suggests that performing cardio after weights may increase fat loss compared to doing cardio before weights (3). This, referring to the calorie burn mentioned above, but even a moderate bike ride will still burn around 200 calories in 30 minutes. 


Reduced cardiovascular performance: If you’re primarily focused on improving your cardiovascular endurance, you may find it difficult to perform at your highest level after a challenging weightlifting session.

Consider Your Goals and Preferences

Ultimately, the best workout order for you depends on your individual goals and preferences. If you prioritize cardiovascular endurance, calorie burn, or enjoy using cardio as a warm-up, consider doing cardio before weights. However, if building strength and muscle mass is your primary objective, it may be more beneficial to perform weightlifting first.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether to perform cardio before or after weights. The optimal workout order largely depends on your specific goals and preferences. By understanding the pros and cons of each approach, you can make an informed decision and tailor your workout routine to best suit your needs.


1. Ratamess, N. A., Chiarello, C. M., Sacco, A. J., Hoffman, J. R., Faigenbaum, A. D., Ross, R. E., & Kang, J. (2016). The Effects of Multiple-Joint Isokinetic Resistance Training on Maximal Isokinetic and Dynamic Muscle Strength and Local Muscular Endurance. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 15(1), 34–40.

2. Eklund, D., Häkkinen, A., Laukkanen, J. A., Balandzic, M., Nyman, K., & Häkkinen, K. (2016). Fitness, body composition and blood lipids following 3 concurrent strength and endurance training modes. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 41(7), 767–774.

3. Gergley, J. C. (2009). Comparison of two lower-body modes of endurance training on lower-body strength development while concurrently training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(3), 979-987.

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