September 30, 2012

Weight training before Cardio

Weight Training Before Cardio

For years, I went to the treadmill immediately when I walked into the gym.  I always thought that I had to do my cardio first in order to “warm-up” my body. Well guess what???  I was wrong!!  So I want to explain why the order of your workout is important.  Doing weight training before cardio is best if your goal is to burn fat.  And here is why:

We all know that combining weight training with cardio is the optimum plan for burning fat.  (see my past post on the benefits of weight training). In order to get through our workouts, we must have energy.  Glycogen is responsible for providing our bodies with energy.  This energy comes from carbs/sugars.  Glycogen is composed of glucose molecules that are stored for later use (everyday activity).  So when you begin your workout with weight training, you have stored carbs/sugars to power you through your lifting and allow better muscle contractions.

So if you start with weight training, you are burning off most of the stored carbs in the beginning.  That way, your body is forced to turn to the stored fat for fuel when you finally get to your cardio session.  Also, weight lifting doesn’t deplete your glycogen stores as bad as it does in cardio workouts (depending on how intense you go).  So you will still have some of your glycogen stores left, allowing you to get in a good cardio workout.

We are all culprits of putting things off.  “I am going to start dieting on Monday”…while eating a cheeseburger and fries Sunday.  We put things off.  Instead, you should start reaching for your goals RIGHT NOW!  Why take a step backward when you are trying to move forward?  It is time to stop putting things off.  I challenge you to this: 6 days a week of weights && then cardio for the month of October.  I usually do a 5 minute stationary bike warm-up just to get my blood flowin’.  But save your main cardio for the end. After we all do this for the month of October, I am interested to see what everyones results are (weight loss, fat loss, mood changes, energy levels, etc).  So the challenge starts now… Who is in???

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  • Awesome information! I’ve been personally following this method for a year now and have lost 75lbs overall and dropped 20% body far (also maintained a healthy diet as well). It’s amazing how the body works. I’ll accept the challenge of October. Keep you posted on progress!

    • Steve, thanks for following the link Zach put up. I cant believe you have lost that much so far! Yet I CAN, because a strict diet and training problem really does wonders. So great job! Good luck training this month. I look forward to hearing about your progress. So inspirational 🙂

    • Right after is fine 🙂 If we do sprints then we usually do them at a completely different time. But if it is just treadmill/stairmill work, right after!

  • Hey! I was just wondering… if you say cardio, how long, how intense are your sessions? Can you give examples? I’ve been researching the past months like crazy about how to go on to get lean and build muscle etc. I don’t have much money so a coach is probably not a good idea either. Also I’m a beginner and I am trying to quit smoking… i just want a good plan! By the way, i love your blog!!! It’s the best I’ve seen so far!!!! 🙂

    • Thanks for the kind words! As far as cardio goes, HIIT is the way to go. Look back at my other articles about HIIT. It is proven to be at least 6x more effective at burning fat. So HIIT is high intensity interval training. Since it is so intense, you should be exhausted by 15-20 minutes usually. And try this 2-3 days/week. This includes things like sprint intervals, jump rope intervals, sled push intervals… Just doing an hour of slow elliptical or walking is not going to burn fat effectively. So short duration but high intensity is best 🙂

  • I really appreciate the reply!! 🙂 Could you give me an example of those interval trainings? When I sprint I usually warm up for 5 minutes and then do 30 sprint, 30-60 rest, and so on til i really can’t anymore. Jump rope intervals do you mean just like 30-60 seconds non-stop jumping, rest etc?
    In my gym there is no sled push so unfortunately i’ll have to pass on that

    • Yes for sprinting, that is great! Keep the rest periods low at like 30 seconds. Vary the sprint distances. Vary the incline possibly too.

      For jump rope intervals, yes, I usually do 30 on 30 off…

      But be creative. You can also use a sledge hammer to hit a tire at full force. You can do HIIT on a stationary Bike by increasing the intensity to >10 and going full speed. Anything that will take you to your maximum capacity! 🙂

  • Hi, I carb cycle… I do weight training/ Fullbody curcuits & HIIT 6x a wk per my trainer.
    My diet is clean 6 meals every 2-3hrs. Im on wk 5-6 and I haven’t seen a dramatic weight loss. I’m putting in my time and consistant. What do you recommend I do?

    • Faviola, it sounds like you are doing things right. But it is hard to say without seeing your workouts. Are you going intense and drenched in sweat by the end? And how many calories are you eating? Also, are you measuring your progress in other ways? Because you may not lose any pounds, but you may drop body fat and inches.

  • Hello, I just stumbled upon your site and so glad I found it, thanks for the great advice, keep it up! 🙂 Subscribed!

  • This site is so awesome. Definitely a one stop shop. I recently became interested in possibly wanting to compete so im a total beginner starting pretty much from scratch. Research is definitly dauting, especially in the food arena, but I think im getting my diet right. As far as decreasing body fat and beginning to see a more defined sculpted figure am i supposed to lose body fat first and then tone up or tone up and then lose body fat or is it all done in conjunction? Ive been doing the weight training and recently included HIIT. Thanks for anything you can provide!

    • Brandi, most people build muscle tone for months even years first! Then later before competing they start to drop body fat to reveal the muscle that was built. The reason is you have much more energy and power when you are eating a regular diet versus when you are on a cutting diet.

  • I found your website so helpful. I am still confused whether to do the HIIT 2-3 times a week on “alternate days”. Does that mean for example, I lift heavy on leg days, mwf. Tuesday Thursday do bicep, tri, shoulders, and sat- chest/back/abs. Sunday no lift. HIIT on Tuesday, thursday, and sunday. Moderate cardio (stairmaster/ elliptical) AFTER leg lift. Or is it on the heavy days I should incorporate the HIIT. I appreciate your help. nutrition balanced as adviced, 6 clean meals.

    • Ava, thanks so much! So it is really up to you when you do the HIIT and how your schedule is. You can do it on a day you don’t lift. Or if you do it on a day that you DO lift, do the HIIT at the end of your workout. I personally would do it on days I do upper body. Because my legs are jello on leg days. But it is really up to you. 🙂

  • Thank you,

    Been reading your blog for a few days now, I like it a lot, tons of info and very well put together. I couldn’t agree more, HIIT after lifting weights is extremely efficient, I love the soreness I feel a day, two day after. I never do it on leg day, squats, deadlifts and leg press kill my legs lol, but it’s been leaning me quite a bit. Though one of my coaches recommends we build more muscle for another 8 mo to 1 year, I decided to lean up a bit just so I can see my progress. Following this method is definitely giving results. But I also think the body reacts much faster if the routine is constantly changed so it could keep guessing. I change my routine every month. ….and a clean diet is a MUST! Again thanks for all the info, greatly appreciated!

    • Anca, sounds like a good plan. Yes, you typically want to spend a lot of time building muscle before you start the leaning out stage. I like your routine! Sounds like you understand the best things to do! good job 🙂

  • Hi! I absolutely love your website, and I have a few questions! I was actually a personal trainer and a full time therapist, when I was training I weighed 110 and had about 8-10%body fat and a six pack. I stopped training my clients and stopped working out as well, I lost all motivation. Any ways- I’m back in the gym now after a solid 2 months off, started this week, I weigh 122 and feel like ive lost all muscle mass, my abs are invisible and I have cellulite on my stomach(may be from birth control im not sure), I am extremely disappointed in myself for getting this far from what I was. I hate asking for help and guidance BUT I NEED HELP! if you have any advice, specifically workouts/ supplements/ diet..anything!!! please let me know. im making myself crazy thinking my body will never be the same. Thank you for your time!

    • Sydney, Thanks for the compliments. Yes, most likely you lost a bit of muscle mass and gained fat mass. I recommend you download my free 4 week Guns and Buns program (in the workouts tab). It outlines all my recommendations for workouts, diet, sups, etc. I think that is exactly what you need right now to get back on track. Let me know what you think 🙂

  • Hi there juat read your bio which is terrific… with regards to your HIIT would you also suggest the stepper? Also how long do you do your cardio for after your weight training… do u suggest on days where upper body is done so that your legs are fresh for cardio?

    Look forward to the awsome tips

    • Jess, thanks for checking out the blog. Great questions here. You can perform HIIT many different ways. I find HIIT more effective on machines that you don’t set the speed on (because that may limit you from reaching your full potential at 100%). For example, running on the treadmill or using the stepper you have to set the resistance or speed level. So that could be limiting your from getting to your 100% effort. Instead I prefer machines that can’t limit you. For example, if you do Deadmills on the treadmill it is turned off so you’re truly giving it 100%. Or sprinting outside in the grass or track, same thing, nothing is holding you back. Make sense? As far as how long you do cardio that’s totally up to you. But the less cardio you can do to achieve your results, the better. Spend more time strength training and only use cardio as needed. HIIT is super effective and should be done for under 15min (my sessions are usually 5-6min total) when truly being done correctly. Regarding which days to do it on, yes, I think it’s best to do HIIT on upper body days so your legs are fresh and not exhausted from strength training. Hope that helps 🙂

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