Cardio or Strength Training – Do one before the other?

A well-balanced fitness plan includes a mixture of cardiovascular activity and strength training. Which one should you do first though? It depends on what your goals are. The debate rages on among fitness professionals but lets first break down how both types of training effect your body.

Cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is any activity that utilizes oxygen during the energy-generating process. The word aerobic means “involving or requiring free oxygen.” Cardiovascular activity is usually any type of activity performed at a low-to-moderate pace for extended periods of time. This may include walking, running, biking or using any cardiovascular machine. During this type of exercise, both fats and carbohydrates are burned. If you run long distances, the body’s glycogen stores are then utilized for energy. Glycogen is stored in the muscles and liver and is released into the bloodstream when needed to produce glucose for energy. Ever “hit the wall” during a long run? That is the point where your glycogen stores are depleted. Cardiovascular exercise is excellent for burning calories and can increase aerobic endurance and help you lose weight. It is also crucial for a highly-functioning cardiovascular system, which includes the heart and blood vessels.

Strength training, such as lifting weights, doesn’t utilize the aerobic energy system. Instead it relies primarily on the anaerobic system, which means without oxygen. Most weight-lifting sets take less than 30 seconds to complete and there are rest breaks in between each set. You will not “hit the wall” during strength training because glycogen is not normally utilized and less calories are burnt. Exercising in a glycogen-depleted state has many downsides though so long durations of cardiovascular exercise before strength training is not advised. Some of the negative consequences include low blood insulin, amino acid breakdown which is the breakdown of muscle tissue for fuel, fatigue and hypoglycemia among many others.

Once again, which one to perform first really depends on your goals. If you want a nice balance between the two, switching off between performing cardio and strength training first is a good idea. However, make sure you aren’t fatigued following the first activity. If your goal is to build more muscle, perform strength training first and if it is to lose body fat, do your cardio first.

Whether you perform strength training or cardio first, or are looking to build muscle or lose fat, there is one place that can help you reach any fitness goal you have your mind set on. Flex Fitness Equipment is the premier provider of all fitness equipment in Australia and has all the latest products from top-notch brands. From treadmills to stationary bikes to dumbbells and barbells, Flex Fitness Equipment has it all and more for an affordable price.

Category: Fitness

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