Which comes first? Cardio or strength training?

When doing cardio & strength training together in one session, i have always done cardio first, then strength training last. Does it matter which you do first? Some people like to do strength training first then cardio, is there a difference? or is it just a preference thing?


  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 29,507 Member
    Depends on your personal priorities, IMO - I'd do the one most important to me when I was freshest/strongest. For a lot of people, that would be the strength training first. For me, it's rowing. So, if doing both in one session (only happens if rowing indoors, not on river!), I'd row first, then lift, most of the time.
  • DancingMoosie
    DancingMoosie Posts: 8,602 Member
    It's a give and take. Cardio first, lifts suffer... lifting first, cardio suffers. And by suffers, I don't mean it sucks, it just won't be optimal.
  • wiigelec
    wiigelec Posts: 503 Member
    edited October 2020
    if you are only concerned with general fitness, i would do strength training first, cardio afterwards.

    strength training will be affected by cardio and strength is more difficult to acquire than cardio. appropriate strength training also has built in cardio; if you have done heavy squats and deadlifts for multiple sets of five, you will know this.

    strength training does not really affect subsequent cardio: the point is to get your heart rate up, which can still be done while fatigued from lifting.

    if you are talking about cardio for specific performance goals, say a competitive 10k race or triathlon, additional consideration will be required.
  • ChristopherLimoges
    ChristopherLimoges Posts: 298 Member
    That's an irrelevant question based upon a recent featured post, which is also irrelevant to ones specific goals. It is dependent on the entire end result you wish to obtain and accept full responsibility for. Simple researched can show the difference between the two. The decision, may also be as strict due previous health conditions and neglected health. 😴
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    edited October 2020
    Without stating your goals, capabilities, priorities and exercise intensity I don't see what use you are going to get out of this thread OP - there isn't one universal answer for everybody.
    For some it's simply a preference and for others it matters a lot.

    "Cardio" means what precisely?
    A short warm up before lifting or an exhausting, high intensity, long duration session?
    (The former might help your lifting or just be neutral, the latter might ruin your lifting.)

    Also is your strength training of sufficient intensity that your cardio actually impacts your performance?

    For my exercise goals I far prefer to separate my strength training and cardio. I might do two a days but not both cardio and strength training in the same session,
  • reesegrace1
    reesegrace1 Posts: 66 Member
    My cardio is 30-40 mins on elliptical or treadmill or step aerobics or walking. Strength training is lifting light weights now & body weight exercises for an hour or so.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,134 Member
    My cardio is 30-40 mins on elliptical or treadmill or step aerobics or walking. Strength training is lifting light weights now & body weight exercises for an hour or so.

    I used to do them both in the same session but my strength training really suffered. These days, I just foam roll first. Trainers have also suggested 10 minutes on the treadmill/elliptical before strength training.

    Are you doing them together because you are doing everything at the gym? Seems to me that a lot could be done outside a gym, so you could break up the session.
  • cgvet37
    cgvet37 Posts: 1,189 Member
    I do them on separate days. If I do strength training first, my cardio suffers, and vise versa.
  • B_Plus_Effort
    B_Plus_Effort Posts: 311 Member
    mix it up, and if you're not a competitive athlete, just do what ever you like
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    edited November 2020
    My cardio is 30-40 mins on elliptical or treadmill or step aerobics or walking. Strength training is lifting light weights now & body weight exercises for an hour or so.

    40mins at very low intensity isn't going to have the same impact as very high intensity cardio such as sprint intervals. If whatever level of effort you are doing feels moderate to you it probably isn't going to impact your strength training which I'm guessing is also low to moderate intensity.
    ("Light weights" isn't I suspect the same as someone pushing themselves to close to their maximum capacity.)

    That's why there isn't a universal answer even ignoring that people's capacity for exercise is very different. Someone could be doing cardio of such high intensity it could completely compromise their ability to do weight training immediately afterwards.
    Some people do weight training of such high intensity they need to be 100% fresh to perform at the level required and would be too fatigued to do an effective cardio workout afterwards.

    My suggestion would be if you are happy doing what you are doing then carry on. If you decide in the future that you want to concentrate on one aspect or the other and push the intensity up then it's time to think about prioritising or separating.

    PS - my gym is closing soon due to the UK's COVID lockdown so I'm maximizing my efforts for a few days and broke my separation rule yesterday.....
    Did 52 minutes of hard intervals on the indoor bike and then did a good upper body weights session pushing close to maxinal effort. Couldn't have done an effective lower body weights session though as my legs were done.
    There's many ways to cut this particular cake!
  • SnifterPug
    SnifterPug Posts: 746 Member
    As others have said, it depends...

    Personally, the only cardio I do that I really count as cardio is a boxing session on the heavy bag. If I do 12 rounds on that there is no way I'd even begin to try lifting. I often do some body weight exercises as cool down but not with any effort at improvement, just concentrating on form.

    On a lifting day I always warm up. That might involve 10 mins or so on an elliptical or rowing machine but normally would be movements more specific to the body areas I plan to work.

    @sijomial - yeah. The gyms shutting again is very tiresome. Everyone at ours is maximising their efforts, too. The heavy bag was in massive demand yesterday so we could take out our frustrations on it. Stay well.
  • Dogmom1978
    Dogmom1978 Posts: 1,580 Member
    Personally, I do both 4-5 days a week and I do strength training first. But, one of my primary goals is to be stronger to help my home business of buying and selling gym equipment be easier for me (my husband does most of the heavy lifting currently). I also find it easier to push through cardio with less energy than my weight routine; however, I don’t have cardio goals that require me to put forth maximum effort doing my cardio.

    It will depend on your specific goals and without those no one can tell you which would potentially be better for YOU.
  • CipherZero
    CipherZero Posts: 1,418 Member
    Strength training first, because strength training seems to me to be far more negatively affected by cardio training than cardio training is affected by strength training.
  • sgt1372
    sgt1372 Posts: 3,971 Member
    Agree that it depends in your goals.