Should I Do Cardio Before or After Weights?

Benefit Cardio Before Weights Cardio After Weights
Muscle Gain Might tire muscles, less effective for lifting heavy Fresh muscles for better strength performance
Fat Loss Burns more calories initially Boosts post-workout fat burn
Endurance Prioritizes cardio endurance Less focus on endurance
Warm-Up Great warm-up, lowers injury risk Weights act as warm-up for cardio
Performance Better cardio performance Better weight lifting performance
Metabolic Rate Higher calorie burn during workout Higher post-workout calorie burn
Injury Prevention Lowers injury risk by warming up Better lifting form reduces injury risk
Goal Alignment Ideal for cardio and fat loss goals Best for muscle gain and strength goals
Recovery Can hinder muscle recovery Light cardio aids muscle recovery


A common question among fitness fans is whether to do cardio before or after weight training. This choice can really affect how well your workouts work and your overall fitness goals. In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of both options, backed by scientific research and expert advice, so you can decide what’s best for you.

Understanding the Basics

What is Cardio?

Cardiovascular exercise, or cardio, involves activities that raise your heart rate and improve the efficiency of your cardiovascular system. Common examples include running, cycling, swimming, and brisk walking. Cardio is essential for improving endurance, burning calories, and promoting overall heart health.

What is Weight Training?

Weight training, or resistance training, is basically about beefing up those muscles by throwing some resistance into the mix. Whether you’re pumping iron at the gym, using machines, stretching those resistance bands, or just doing some good ol’ bodyweight exercises, it’s all about getting stronger, building those muscles, and revving up your metabolism.

Benefits of Doing Cardio Before Weights

Improved Cardiovascular Endurance and Warm-Up

Kicking off your workout with some cardio is a great way to warm up. It gets your muscles and heart ready for the harder stuff, helps prevent injuries, and boosts your overall performance.

Better Performance in Cardio Activities

Doing cardio first means your muscles are fresh, so you can crush those high-endurance activities. This is super helpful if your main goal is to boost your heart health or get ready for endurance events like marathons or triathlons.

Fat Loss and Calorie Burn

Engaging in cardio before weights can elevate your heart rate and increase calorie burn. For those focused on fat loss, this approach might help create a larger caloric deficit, contributing to more effective weight loss.

Benefits of Doing Weights Before Cardio

Enhanced Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy

Starting with weight training is like priming your muscles, so they’re not already worn out. That way, you can push heavier weights and crank out more reps. It’s all about getting stronger and bulking up those muscles if you’re aiming to build some serious mass.

Better Performance and Form

If you hit the weights before doing cardio, you’ll keep your form and technique in check, which helps you avoid getting hurt. Good form is key to getting the most out of your weight training and staying injury-free.

Increased Metabolic Rate

Doing weight training before cardio can kick your metabolism into high gear, so you keep burning more calories even after you’re done working out. This is known as the afterburn effect, or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), and it’s awesome if you want to lose some weight and give your metabolism a boost.

Scientific Perspective and Studies

Research Findings

A bunch of studies have looked into whether it’s better to do cardio before or after lifting weights. One study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that hitting the cardio after your weight session can boost your strength and muscle gains more than doing cardio first. Another study found that if you lift weights before doing cardio, you might burn more fat after your workout, which could help you lose weight more effectively.

Expert Opinions

Experts generally recommend tailoring your workout sequence based on your specific fitness goals. For muscle gain and strength, starting with weights is typically advised. For improving cardiovascular endurance or focusing on fat loss, beginning with cardio might be more beneficial.

Tailoring Your Routine Based on Goals

Fat Loss

If you’re all about shedding those extra pounds, kicking off with some cardio can really amp up your calorie burn and make a bigger dent in that calorie deficit. And here’s a cool tip: mixing in some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) along with your weightlifting sessions can do wonders for torching fat while keeping your hard-earned muscles intact.

Muscle Gain

If you’re looking to beef up those muscles, hitting the weights is where it’s at. Pumping iron lets you go heavier and crank out more reps, which means bigger muscles. Toss in some light cardio to keep your heart happy without putting the brakes on your gains.

Overall Fitness and Endurance

For individuals aiming for overall fitness and endurance, a balanced approach is essential. You might consider alternating between starting with cardio and weights on different days or incorporating combined training sessions that integrate both elements.

Practical Considerations

Personal Preference

In the end, what really matters for your workout routine is what you like and can keep doing regularly. Picking something you enjoy and can stick to is key for making gains in the long run.

Time Constraints

Consider your schedule and how much time you have for workouts. If you have limited time, combining shorter cardio sessions with weight training can help you achieve a balanced routine without spending hours in the gym.

Listening to Your Body

It’s essential to pay attention to how your body responds to different workout sequences. Adjust your routine based on how you feel and your progress toward your fitness goals. Flexibility and adaptability are key to a successful fitness regimen.


So, whether you hit cardio before or after pumping iron really comes down to what you’re aiming for and what floats your boat. Each way has its perks, ya know? Whether you’re all about shedding fat, building muscle, or just staying in top shape, knowing what’s good about each method can help you figure out the best workout plan for you.

Just play around with it, listen to what your body’s saying, and you’ll dial in that sweet spot that gets you the results you’re after and keeps you stoked on your fitness grind.

Key Takeaway: 

Tailoring your workout routine based on your specific goals and preferences is essential for achieving optimal results. Whether you choose to do cardio before or after weights, consistency and enjoyment are crucial factors in maintaining a successful fitness regimen.


1. Can I do cardio and weights on the same day?

Yes, you can do both on the same day. Combining cardio and weights can provide a balanced workout, but it’s essential to manage intensity and recovery.

2. How much cardio should I do if I’m focusing on muscle gain?

If your primary goal is muscle gain, limit cardio to moderate-intensity sessions of 20-30 minutes, 2-3 times per week, to avoid interfering with muscle recovery and growth.

3. Will doing cardio after weights affect my muscle recovery?

After you pump some iron, doing a bit of moderate cardio can actually help your muscles chill out by getting that blood flowing and easing up on the soreness. But steer clear of going all out with the cardio; too much of it could just leave you feeling wrecked.

4. What type of cardio is best for fat loss?

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is highly effective for fat loss as it burns a significant amount of calories in a short time and boosts metabolism post-exercise.

5. Is it better to split cardio and weights into separate sessions?

Splitting cardio and weights into separate sessions can be beneficial if you have the time, as it allows you to give full effort to each type of training without compromising performance.

Resource List:

Is It Better To Do Cardio Before Or After Weight Training? – Women’s Health

Should You Do Cardio Before or After Weights? – GoodRx

Should You Do Cardio Before or After Weights? – OnePeloton Blog

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