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Cardio or Strength Training First: What's the Best Order for Your Workout?

Feb 14, 2024 - By the dedicated team of editors and writers at Newsletter Station.

When it comes to hitting the gym, one of the age-old debates among fitness enthusiasts is whether to start with cardio or strength training. Some swear by getting their heart pumping with a cardio session before hitting the weights, while others prefer to tackle strength training first.

So, which approach is superior? Let's delve into the science behind both methods to determine the best order for your workout routine.

Cardio First:

Starting your workout with cardio has its perks. Engaging in aerobic exercise, such as running, cycling, or using the elliptical, can help elevate your heart rate, increase blood flow to your muscles, and warm up your body effectively. This can improve endurance, better calorie burn during your cardio session, and potentially enhance fat loss, especially if done in a fasted state.

However, there are some downsides to prioritizing cardio. For one, if you aim to build muscle, performing an intense cardio session beforehand may deplete your energy levels and hinder your performance during strength training. Additionally, excessive cardio before lifting weights could lead to fatigue, compromising your form and increasing the risk of injury.

Strength Training First:

On the flip side, starting your workout with strength training has its own set of advantages. By focusing on lifting weights or performing resistance exercises at the beginning of your session, you can capitalize on your body's fresh energy reserves and maximize your strength and power output. This can lead to more significant gains in muscle mass, strength, and overall athletic performance.

Moreover, prioritizing strength training allows you to preserve your glycogen stores for lifting heavier weights, which may translate to more significant muscle growth over time. Additionally, lifting weights first can help elevate your metabolism and promote more significant fat loss, as resistance training has been shown to increase post-exercise calorie expenditure.

However, there are also potential drawbacks to starting with strength training. For individuals primarily focused on cardiovascular fitness, diving into an intense weightlifting session without a proper warm-up may increase the risk of injury. Furthermore, lifting weights with fatigued muscles may compromise your form and limit your ability to lift heavy, potentially hindering your progress in the long run.

The Verdict:

So, which should come first in your workout routine: cardio or strength training? The answer largely depends on your fitness goals and personal preferences. If your primary objective is to improve cardiovascular endurance, burn calories, or train for an endurance event, starting with cardio may be more beneficial. Conversely, prioritizing strength training at the beginning of your workout could be more advantageous if you aim to build muscle, increase strength, or enhance athletic performance.

Ultimately, the key is to listen to your body and find what works best for you. You may consider alternating between cardio-first and strength-first workouts to keep your routine varied and prevent boredom. Whatever order you choose, remember to warm up properly, stay hydrated, and prioritize proper form and technique to maximize the effectiveness and safety of your workouts.

With consistency and dedication, you'll be well on reaching your fitness goals, whether pounding the pavement or pumping iron.
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