January 20, 2019
Do Cardio Exercise First?
Ask the Experts

Do Cardio Exercise First?

by Berkeley Wellness  

Q: If I do cardiovascular and strength training on the same day, does it matter which one I do first?

A: If you’re like the average exerciser, it doesn’t matter which you do first, as long as you are not too fatigued to continue. Many people prefer doing the cardiovascular (aerobic) workout first, since it warms up the muscles. But see what works best for you.

If you’re a serious exerciser trying to improve your performance, most sports physiologists recommend doing strength and cardio workouts on alternate days, since one can interfere with the other.

Some studies, for instance, have found that a cardio workout done shortly before strength training can cause muscle fatigue and other physiological changes, and thus may reduce strength improvements. Similarly, doing a strength workout first, followed by cardio exercise—a less common sequence—may reduce your aerobic gains.

However, it depends on what kind of workouts you’re doing. If your cardio workout is running, for example, and you follow it with upper-body strength training, there’ll be little interaction, since the workouts focus on different muscles. Other variables include how many hours elapse between the two workouts, the intensity and length of workouts, and your fitness level.