Should you do cardio before or after your weight workout? Many prefer to do their cardio before lifting to get it out of the way and as a general warm-up. I do endorse a 5 minute pre-workout general warm-up for safety’ sake, but for maximum fat loss, post weight training aerobics should be the mainstay of your program.
The funny thing about being on the cutting edge of weight loss science is that people are reluctant to believe you until someone with a M.D. says it is so. Well, wonder of all wonders, it just so happens that a recent study suggests that the best time to do cardio is after a weight workout and that how long you rest between the two can make a difference in both hormone release and fat burning.
This is not new information to bodybuilders who specialize in rapid fat loss year in and year out. My experience as a competitive bodybuilder is what prompted me to use this style of training for fat loss in my clients.
The study was presented at the 2006 ACSM meeting and featured 10 healthy men who did three types of exercise routines on different days: 1) Endurance exercises only 2) Endurance exercise after weight training and a 20 minute rest 3) Endurance exercises after weight training and 120 minutes rest
The weight training workout consisted of six exercises each done for three to four sets of 10 reps. Pretty standard fair and similar to the second phase of the Fat to Fit Program. The cardio exercises consisted of stationary cycling for an hour at low intensity (50 percent of maximum heart rate.
For maximum fat loss I would suggest a higher intensity level and a more High Intensity Interval Training style as opposed to the low intensity approach used in the study.
Doing the weight workout before aerobics led to marked increases in lactate, norepinephrine and growth hormone levels. These are all great things when it comes to maximum fat loss. Before the endurance exercise started those in the 120 minute rest group showed the highest levels of free fatty acids in the blood, while those in the 20 minute rest group showed higher levels of norepinephrine and growth hormone.
During the endurance and weight training exercises, blood levels of free fatty acids and glycerol were higher in both weight training groups than in the endurance only group. The bottom line is that those in both weight training groups were burning more fat during the aerobic exercise than the aerobics only group.
You can compound the case for post workout aerobics further by adding in the fact that not only did the group that did weight training first burn more fat during their cardio but also burned more calories in total by virtue of an increased overall daily metabolism increase and calories expended through the actual resistance training itself.
The study clearly shows that doing a weight workout before aerobics leads to hormonal changes that increased fat oxidation (read weight loss or fat burning) during the following aerobic workout.
Here is another angle to the story. Imagine yourself doing 30 minutes to an hour of aerobics and then going on to do your weight training. How much energy do you really have left to do justice to your weight training? After all that cardio, you have burnt through your glycogen stores (which are the muscle preferred source of fuel) and will not have the energy to stimulate the most outrageous fat burning method available to you. An all day long, increased metabolism, because you stimulated your muscles.
It kind of makes you smile when you find out information like this doesn’t it?