Cardio or Weights First for Best Fat Burning?
By Gina Paolino
Exercise smarter, not harder for fat-burning. Cardio or weights first for best results? The answer is here!
There is so much confusion out there surrounding exercise advice. Not only is it confusing what you should be doing, but the order in which to do it can be just as perplexing. One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “How should I structure my workout in order to burn the most fat?” Along the same line is the popular question, “If I’m going to do cardio and resistance training in the same exercise session, should I do cardio first or weights? Here is the answer…
Almost everyone will have the best results by doing cardio after resistance training. There are several reasons for this:
1. Resistance training uses carbs and only carbs for energy. If you deplete your muscles of stored carbs and then try to perform strength training, you will be weaker during the strength training.
2. Cardio can be performed by tapping into the energy in bodyfat. It takes 20-30 minutes of activity for the body to switch from primarily burning carbohydrate to burning fat. If you weight train first, that means you are already burning fat at the start of your cardio session.
3. Your heart rate will be elevated sooner during your cardio session. Weight training elevates heart rate. This means that within a few minutes at most during your cardio session after weight training, you will be in your target heart rate zone that is recommended for weight loss and cardiovascular conditioning. If you had started with cardio, you would need to go for longer just to get into your target heart rate zone.
If you have ever belonged to a gym, you have probably noticed that almost everyone does cardio before weights. Most people do this for one of two reasons:
A. They don’t know any better, or
B. They want to get the “boring”part out of the way first.
Those “in the know” do their weight training first! Of course, your other options are to do them at separate times—-such as weights in the morning, and cardio in the evening, or vice versa. Alternately, you could alternate your cardio and weights workouts, perhaps doing each two or three times per week and taking the rest of the day(s) off.
There is one situation where you might answer the question, "cardio or weights first" with "cardio," and it's the case where you're an endurance athlete training for performance in endurance events. If endurance event performance is your priority, go ahead and train cardio first, even though it's not so good for fat loss. If you goals are fat loss or muscle gain primarily, be sure you answer "weights!" when the question, "cardio or weights first" arises.
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Gina Paolino is a certified personal fitness trainer with the AMPFT. She is the owner of the in-home fitness training business, "Home Bodies." She is also the author of the weight loss book, "Mind Over Fatter: A 30-Day Overhaul of the Mindset That Has Sabotaged Your Fitness and Weight Loss Success." Her programs have helped hundreds of people in MA and NH shed inches and pounds and re-gain health, youthfulness and vitality. Learn more about her programs and read other articles by Gina at homeexercisecoach.com.
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