Why Should You Lift Before Cardio

Why Should You Lift Before Cardio?

Picture this: you walk into the gym with a plan to do some cardio, whether it’s running on the treadmill, cycling, or hopping on the elliptical. But wait! Before you dive into that cardio session, have you ever considered lifting some weights first? While it might seem counterintuitive to lift before doing cardio, there are some compelling reasons why this approach can benefit your fitness routine. In this blog post, we’ll explore the advantages of prioritizing lifting before cardio and how it can elevate your workout experience.

The Science Behind the Sequence:

Before we delve into the benefits, let’s understand the science behind lifting before cardio. When you lift weights, you engage your muscles in resistance training, which depletes your body’s stored glycogen (carbohydrates) and prompts the breakdown of muscle fibers. As a result, your body experiences an “afterburn” effect known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC refers to the increased rate of oxygen intake and calorie burn that occurs after a workout. Essentially, your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate during the recovery period, which can last for hours after your lifting session.


Advantages of Lifting Before Cardio

Maximizing Muscle Building and Fat Burning: By lifting weights first, you tap into your body’s glycogen stores and use up readily available energy. This means that when you move on to cardio, your body is more likely to burn stored fat for fuel instead of relying on the glycogen reserves. This combination of strength training and cardio can lead to better muscle building and fat burning results.

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Improved Strength and Performance: Lifting weights when your energy levels are at their peak can improve your overall strength and performance during resistance training. You’ll have the mental focus and physical energy to lift heavier weights and perform more challenging exercises, which can lead to better muscle development over time.

Reduced Risk of Injury: Fatigued muscles are more susceptible to injury, and lifting weights with proper form is crucial for injury prevention. By doing strength training first, you ensure that your muscles are fresh and better equipped to handle the demands of lifting, reducing the risk of injury.

Time Efficiency: If you’re short on time but want to get the most out of your workout, starting with lifting can be a time-efficient approach. Compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously can provide a full-body workout in a shorter amount of time.


Studies Supporting Lifting Before Cardio

Several studies have explored the effects of different exercise sequences on the body. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that lifting weights before cardio resulted in higher EPOC and increased fat oxidation compared to doing cardio first.

Another study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport showed that when participants performed resistance training before aerobic exercise, their maximal strength gains were significantly higher compared to the group that did the opposite sequence.


Tips for Incorporating Lifting Before Cardio

If you’re convinced to give the lifting-before-cardio approach a try, here are some practical tips to make the most of your workout:

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Warm-Up Properly: Before diving into your lifting session, make sure to warm up your muscles with some dynamic stretches or light cardio. A proper warm-up prepares your body for the demands of lifting and reduces the risk of injury.

Focus on Compound Movements: Compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and rows, engage multiple muscle groups at once. These exercises are time-efficient and highly effective for strength development.

Alternate Muscle Groups: Give each muscle group time to recover by alternating the areas you target in your lifting routine. For example, if you focus on upper body lifting one day, concentrate on lower body lifting the next.

Pair with Cardio Activities: Consider doing cardio exercises that complement your lifting routine. For instance, if you work your upper body, try cycling or using the rowing machine for cardio. If you focus on lower body lifting, opt for activities like running or elliptical training.

Fuel Your Body: Proper nutrition is essential to support your lifting and cardio workouts. Ensure you’re consuming enough carbohydrates and protein to fuel your muscles for the intense training.

Stay Hydrated: Don’t forget to hydrate before, during, and after your workout. Proper hydration is crucial for optimal performance and recovery.

Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to the lifting-before-cardio approach. Everyone is different, and it’s essential to find what works best for you and your fitness goals.


Adjusting the Approach

While the lifting-before-cardio approach can be beneficial for many, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some individuals may find that doing cardio first helps them warm up and prepares them mentally for lifting. Others may prefer to focus on cardio and then lift to finish off their workout.

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Experiment with different sequences to find what feels most comfortable and enjoyable for you. Ultimately, the key to a successful workout routine is consistency and finding activities that you genuinely enjoy.



In conclusion, prioritizing lifting before cardio can be a game-changer for your fitness routine. By tapping into your glycogen stores during resistance training, you encourage your body to burn stored fat during your cardio session. This combination of strength training and cardio can lead to improved muscle building, fat burning, and overall fitness results.

Additionally, lifting weights when your energy levels are at their peak allows you to push your limits, leading to better strength gains and performance. Always prioritize proper form and technique during lifting to reduce the risk of injury.

Ultimately, the best exercise sequence is the one that fits your preferences and goals. Whether you choose to lift before cardio, do them on separate days, or mix them up, consistency and enjoyment are key to a successful fitness journey.

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