There are many different opinions about almost everything in the fitness industry. The answer is almost always: Do what works best for you! Given the hectic nature of most people’s schedules, the biggest hurdle to fitness is simply sticking with it. If a certain routine causes you to have fun, and makes you want to stick with it, go for it! After you develop the fitness habit, you can then tweak your routine to reach new goals.
That includes whether you should do cardio first, or lift weights first. Cardio is anything that increases the heart rate for a sustained period of time, without stopping. If you’re in the gym, cardio is usually one of the machines, such as the Stairmaster or treadmill. If you love sports, your cardio might be jogging or cycling. There are also anaerobic sports, such as tennis, volleyball, or jump rope. Anaerobic means without oxygen. It means you stop and start. So, instead of continuing without stopping, like with jogging, anaerobic exercises like tennis require bursts of activity followed by rest periods.
Likewise, weight-lifting is an anaerobic exercise which is specifically designed to strengthen and re-sculpt the muscles. It is vital for developing strong bones, and for raising the metabolism. Weightlifting also helps support good posture and insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity is important for avoiding Type II diabetes and obesity.
I, personally, am an avid weight lifter. I started lifting weights in high school because I was too skinny. I wanted beautiful muscles and a more womanly shape. I fell in love with it and never stopped. If you want to change your body’s shape, you need to lift weights.
I lift weights before my cardio routine. I may do some core exercises as a warm up. Or, I may simply warm up with a light version of the first exercise. This gets my blood flowing and prepares me, specifically, for the work I’m about to do.
I like to lift weights first because my main focus is building my physique and strengthening my bones as I get older. So I lift heavy weights (heavy for me!). I like to lift when I have the most energy, so I do it first. Also, weight-lifting depletes the glycogen in the muscles. So, after I’ve worn myself out lifting weights, I tap into my fat stores for energy during my cardio routine..
My cardio is low-moderate in intensity. That’s all I have the energy for at the end. I do HIIT workouts occasionally, but most of my workouts are moderate intervals, or steady-state cardio. I work out for about an hour a day, five days a week. My resistance workout is four days, Monday through Thursday, and I do five days of cardio. On Fridays, I do an hour of only cardio, with abs and stretching at the end.
It works for me. Strength training not only allows me to eat more, it makes me feel amazing. It allows me to be more independent, because I am not weak! When I’m carrying muscle, my posture and body movements are more confident.
If you’re new to weight training, start small and build slowly. Invest in a trainer to avoid injury and to develop a sustainable plan. It takes a long time to develop muscle the natural way. So, be patient and enjoy the process!
Peace and love,