Should You Do Strength Or Cardio First?

should you do strength or cardio first

I’ve talked before about how much cardio you should do.

And I mentioned that for most people, with a general health goal, one to two times a week is probably enough. If you have a more specific goal, then it will depend more on that specific training plan.

But if whatever plan you’re on or whatever goal you’re aiming for includes both strength and cardio, then how should you structure that? Should you do strength or cardio first?

Specific goals have specific plans and the same can apply to how you structure your training sessions.

What Is Your Main Focus?

If I’m doing both strength and cardio in a training session, then what I do first will depend on what I want my focus to be.

So if I want to focus on my strength work, I’ll do my strength training first. If I am focused on cardio or aerobic performance, I’ll do that part first.

Now and then I might switch it up just for the sake of testing.

For example, if I’m generally focused on strength, then trying a session when I’ve already taxed my limbs and gassed my lungs, just to see how I cope and how I perform might be something I’ll do now and then. Again, just kind of for the sake of variety and just to test my progress.

But generally, 99% of the time, whatever my major focus is, I’ll do that first.

How Much Skill Does That Exercise Take?

The required skill level is also important.

Strength and weightlifting exercises – those movement patterns just don’t come naturally to me. So I need to be a lot more mindful of my technique and that takes a lot more skill.

Whereas something like running or even sprinting – those come relatively easy to me.

So I don’t need to be as fresh to make sure that my skill level stays high. That doesn’t mean that I let my technique get really bad. It just means that it doesn’t take me as much energy or focus to keep a good technique.

I always feel like I need to tackle the one that requires more skills so the strength work takes priority before I move on to cardio or aerobic training.

For me, if I’m combining the two, I’ll pretty much always do strength first because it needs that more skill.

And most of my goals at the moment are more strength-based.

Should You Combine Strength And Cardio In One Workout?

But I also want to cover something about combining both strength and cardio into a training session. A 2016 study suggested leaving at least six hours between different training styles.

So between strength and cardio, for example.

And the reason for that is that will allow your body to obtain the full adaptive response from that training session. So in an ideal world, to get every percentage out of the workout, you want to try splitting it up.

Some Other Things To Consider

But it’s also worth bearing in mind a few other things.

You can get a great aerobic workout from a strength workout.

There will be things like obstacle races, or CrossFit, where you need to be able to combine both.

The human body is more responsive and more adaptable and more complex than just saying you have to do this for strength and this for cardio.

And for the general population who don’t necessarily need to try and milk every percentage out of every workout combining the two might just be more practical.

So long story short in an ideal world, don’t combine the two if it can be avoided.

If you do need to combine them, which most people tend to do, do the one that fits in more with your training goal first.

If you’re focused more on strength do that. If you have no preference then maybe choose the one that requires more skill first.

And more importantly, remember, to do what you enjoy as long as it’s safe and make sure it fits into your lifestyle.

should you do strength or cardio first

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