What is best: performing cardio or lifting weights?
I had a question regarding weight lifting and cardio. I read your articles and find you very knowledgeable. I wanted to know the difference between lifting weights and doing cardio after, and doing cardio first and then lifting weights? — Alex G., Email
This question reminds me of the ongoing debate of which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Although there is no definite answer when it comes to the chicken and the egg, there is an answer when it comes to the best practices for performing cardio prior to lifting weights and vice versa.
First and foremost, the answer to this question is best understood when you have a desired outcome. What I mean by this is that many people exercise but tend to fall short on achieving any one specific outcome. For instance, when exercising it’s to your benefit to have a specific goal you want to achieve.
It could be running a certain distance in a faster amount of time, improving your body composition, building endurance or reducing stress. No matter what the goal, you are more likely to succeed if you have meaning, purpose and direction in regard to your approach to exercise.
After getting an endorsement from your physician to exercise, be sure to warm up for six to 12 minutes prior to your workout. If you’re planning to lift weights, warm up the muscles and joints you are going to be using. For instance, if you are going to lift weights with your legs, it would be to your benefit to walk on the treadmill or perform an exercise that incorporates your hip, knee and ankle joints.
The main benefit to lifting weights before performing cardiovascular exercise is to maximize your ability to maintain and/or build lean muscle tissue. Lifting weights before performing cardio is recommended for those who want to optimize strength gains and maintain lean muscle tissue.
Like with weight training, it is to your benefit to consider the first six to 12 minutes of your workout a warm up. If you perform 30-60 minutes of cardio prior to lifting weights you are less likely to maximize your ability to maintain and/or build lean muscle tissue. Instead, you are more likely to lose lean muscle tissue and lack the strength necessary to build lean muscle.
However, one positive to performing cardio prior to weight training is EPOC (Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption). What this means is that you burn more total calories following the exercise session. Nonetheless, in my opinion and that of most experts who value metabolism, it’s important to keep building lean body mass for improved health and longevity.
All this said, if time constraints put you in a position where you must perform both cardio and weights on the same day and you can’t imagine hitting the weights first, in order to minimize the loss of lean body mass, my recommendation is to keep the duration of your total exercise session to a maximum of 60 minutes.
It’s become apparent that being active compared to a sedentary lifestyle is beneficial. In addition to making time to be active, it does help to supplement correctly. Ferguson endorses a product (Collagen Fat Shrinker) that is proven to shrink fat cells and fuel the improvement of lean body mass. (learn more)
Regardless of what method of exercise you engage in, the most important aspect is to maintain purpose and meaning in your actions. Knowing where you are going and having a map, or shall I say plan, to ensure you achieve your desired results is how I recommend you approach your training. Good luck
— Robert Ferguson is an author, nutritionist, fitness professional, producer and CEO of Diet Free Life. He serves on the Presidential Task Force on Obesity and has been dubbed America’s Fat Loss Coach.