The science-backed answer to the age-old fitness debate: cardio or weights first? Unlock optimal workout sequences for health, wellness, and peak performance.

Pick Your Lane: The Perfect Workout Sequence Debate

The tale as old as the treadmills: should you start with cardio or weights? The age-old fitness world debate finally gets some scientific backing. Listen up, everyone! It’s time to squash the squabble once and for all. Are we team heart-thumping cardio or iron-pumping strength training? Turns out, the answer ain’t as one-sided as your gym buddies might claim. The optimal sequence for the best results? Hold your breath… it depends! Sounds like a clever twist in your rom-com, right?

The Toolbox of Exercise: Cardio & Resistance Training

Imagine if I tell you you’ve been holding a treasure chest of fitness all this while, only it’s got more than just one type of gem. Your workout regime is that chest and cardio and resistance training are the precious gems in it. The American College of Sports Medicine nudges us to utilize both to harness their distinctive health-improving, disease-reducing benefits. But it’s not just about grabbing whichever gem glimmers the most.

Aerobic exercise is your groove-on motion. It’s all about pumping up your heart by walking, running, swimming, cycling, or making such pals with those cardio machines that your body might as well start delivering oxygen to your muscles like they are on a speed date! Chronic disease risk reduction? Check. Energy use and fat burning increase? Double-check. Gets you physically and mentally fitter? You bet.

Then, comes resistance training. Your muscles’ fairy godmother! By lifting, pushing or pulling against resistance, you embark on the journey of muscle strengthening. Strength, endurance and muscle size all get a VIP ticket towards improvement. Plus, resistance training seems to be the knight in toiling armor for folks with Type 2 diabetes or the risk of developing it. Say hello to better blood pressure, glucose levels, and muscle glucose utilization. Not to mention, it’s the bouncer for your lean body mass and bone health party.

Find your health groove: Concurrent Training

Now, wearing multiple hats can get crazy but not in your workout world. Engaging in both cardio and weights forms of exercises in the same session, also known as concurrent training, is like wearing a crown that lowers your cardiovascular and metabolic risks. And doing both together is decidedly better for those with chronic disease risk factors.

Regardless of whether you salsa with cardio first or tango with weights, lucky for you, concurrent training plays no favorites. After all, it’s all about those healthy improvements in aerobic capacity and muscular strength. Age, fitness level or activity status don’t get to gate-crash your progress party!

For the love of performance goals: The Interference Effect

But if you are a passionate performer, donned in your athlete shoes, looking to ace a particular sport or competition, it’s time to take your exercise order seriously. Research rings the bell on ‘interference effect’, where the nuances of concurrent training can hinder improvements in aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and muscle growth. What’s going on here? Seems like aerobic and resistance training are engaged in a molecular tug of war, affecting genetic signaling and protein synthesis. So, our well-trained athletes have a specific task cut out: understanding the cellular response to exercise.

Gear up, high-performance elites! Considering the concurrent training findings for well-trained athletes, it may be wiser to either cozy up with resistance training first or pick the type of exercise that aligns most with your performance goals. And don’t forget to grant your body a 3-hour break between resistance and aerobic training sessions.

It’s more about the journey, less about the order

Research is gravitating towards ‘microcycles’ of aerobic and resistance exercises. Think, a knockout combo of a resistance exercise set, immediately followed by three minutes of walking or running, repeated until your routine is complete. Preliminary findings hint at similar victorious gains in aerobic fitness, muscular strength, and lean muscle mass, but surprisingly less challenging than the typical concurrent routine where all resistance exercises precede the aerobic.

Be it your favorite workout gear or most earworm inducing playlist, the trick, my friends, is to keep you coming back to the gym. For most, the order of workout isn’t a “make or break” decision. However, for our athlete superstars, breaking up resistance and aerobic workout in a day or doing resistance routine first can help them stay clear from any significant ‘interference effect’.

Key highlights

  • Whether you choose cardio or weights first in your exercise regime depends upon various individual factors like age, fitness level, and exercise history and goals.
  • Aerobic exercise and resistance training offer distinctive health-related benefits, which is why the American College of Sports Medicine encourages a mixed regimen.
  • Concurrent training or including both cardio and weights in the same exercise session offers immense health benefits, regardless of the order followed.
  • For serious athletes focusing on performance, taking into account the ‘interference effect’, it may be better to start with resistance training or follow the regimen most aligned with performance goals.
  • ‘Microcycles’ – mixing brief bursts of aerobic and resistance exercises – show promising preliminary results in benefits equal to traditional concurrent training but feel less challenging.

Source Citation: https://www.inverse.com/health/exercise-scientist-settles-long-standing-debate-cardio-weights-first

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