Cardio Before or After a Workout – Which Comes First?

Hate it or love it, weight training and cardio are the foundation of workout routines. If you are used to a regular workout, you must have preferences about going to the weight room or the cardio machine. For most people, the order depends upon their mood. But for me, I am an endorphins-rush addict, and I love to do my cardio first.

Like the other controversial fitness topics, it all comes down to the goals. Many people divide the workout sessions between strength and cardio training. Besides, the order impacts the results. However, no solid scientific evidence can prove if one is more beneficial than the others. It all depends on the result you want either it improves the outcome; gains weight, or loses weight.

But is there absolute cardio before or after a workout case? And what does the scientific evidence says about it? Keep reading to find the best time to do cardio before or after a workout. Besides, whatever time you choose, remember to warm up.

When to lift weights before cardio?

What about cardio before or after a workout? Like the other fitness-related question, it isn’t straightforward to answer. Some people slip in their cardio before a workout, some prefer to do it in the middle, while some at the end.

According to studies, the thing that matters a lot is doing it. Among this training, aerobic exercise is the vital part. Daily activities like climbing, cycling, swimming, and rowing from a moderate to high level for 30 minutes at least three days per week benefit overall health.

  • It reduces the risk of many heart diseases by improving overall cardiovascular health.
  • Even a 30-minute cardio session is beneficial in weight loss as it burns hundreds of calories.
  • The cardio exercises increase the heart rate, which triggers the endorphin hormones that are a feel-good chemical and an instant mood booster. It works as a natural anti-depressant, and its positive feeling lasts up to 24 hours.

So you know it’s an important exercise, but when to do cardio before or after a workout. Your training goals are the key elements that decide what works best for you. It means there is no clear answer, and there is a debate about cardio before or after a workout.

Is it beneficial to combine weights and cardio?

Yes, combining weight and cardio is beneficial to health. But it will also depend on factors like age, expected results, training intensity, and your current fitness level. For most people, six times a week is a very healthy workout. It generally includes limited high-intensity training that can combine both weights and cardio.

Such exercises improve overall health and significantly benefit cardiac function. But once we look at the athletes, they may need nine or more weekly workout sessions. We usually separate the training session to accomplish the extra few points for our bodies.

The Journal of Applied Physiology states that combining weight and cardio can provide a unique yet beneficial way to lose weight. According to the researchers, overweight adults can benefit from resistance training for weight loss. At the same time, Aerobic training is the optimal mode that reduces body mass and fat mass.

The systematic review of sports medicine confirms that combining strength training and muscle training allows you to expect muscle gain as it maximizes strength development and doesn’t compromise hypertrophy. But the researchers also claim that maximal strength gains are found when both forms of exercises are performed in the same sessions.

Researchers concluded that athletes should separate both strength exercises and aerobic exercises to get the required optimal adaptations.

Cardio before or after a workout

Cardio before or after a workout

Graphics Credit:

To increase the general performance:

Do cardio first and strength later

Recent research in Sports medicine detects the difference between cardio before or after a workout and its recovery, endurance, and strengths. The results show that the morning cardio session with the strength training a few hours later improves the overall fitness level.

For example, try to do HIIT in the morning and do the weight exercises after 6 hours. This time interval benefits muscles in their recovery and gives them proper time to function fully. It also helps in avoiding injuries and burning-out conditions.

To boost muscle mass, strength, and power

Do cardio after weight training

Lifting weights is more complicated. It would help if you used a lot of energy to lift the consequences safely. When you are sweaty and tired from the cardio session, your body and brain will not be powerful enough to perform the strength-building exercises reasonably.

According to the research doing running or cycling before the strength-building exercises can reduce the number of your reps that you can perform.

When to combine cardio with weights?

Any cardio exercise will benefit the body. But if we discuss combining cardio and weights will depend on the intensity, duration, and fitness goals. Suppose your health goal is to improve heart health. In that case, we can perform full-body endurance exercises like skiing or swimming at high intervals to increase endurance and enhance overall body health.

A Sports and medicine study in 2017 states that high-intensity travel training affects. It says that cardio exercises like HIIT reduce fat masses like the visceral and abdominal masses. They concluded that the high-intensity training was way more successful in reducing the whole body adiposity. In contrast, the lower intensities effectively changed the visceral and abdominal fat.

The same study states that running is more beneficial than cycling in reducing the overall visceral fat mass of the body. But like the other fitness forms, it’s best to find a cardio exercise you like to do once you start doing the activity you want; there are maximum chances that you will regularly do it.

How often should I train?

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, all adults should target 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio activity every week.

It may look like a lot at first, but when you divide it to 30 minutes intervals, it means that you should do it 5 to 6 times a week. The CDC also recommends that adults perform strength training exercises at least 2 to 3 days a week. It will ensure that the entire muscle group works out in the body.

It’s ideal to do exercise daily. Because as we start getting older, the stimulus from the workout lasts for a short period. With age, you will have to do more training to maintain muscle strength and size.

Following a proper exercise routine benefits in maintaining muscle groups and strength. In addition, by following a familiar routine, you will avoid the injuries that can result from unfamiliar exercises.

To benefits endurance, it’s vital to do it faster than you are doing or expecting. Doing exercise in a comfort zone and pace is fine, but you can get many benefits once you do it faster. Therefore you must set a goal of at least 6 days a week.


There are no solid reasons you can’t do the cardio and weights in the same workout or do them at different times of the day. But once you mix the cardio and weight training sessions throughout the week, it will give your body the energy and space you need to adapt in one specific way.

It benefits in the prevention of all the negative interactions between them. That means your body will recover appropriately after performing the cardio and lifting. Whether you prefer doing cardio before or after a workout, the main thing that matters is doing it regularly.


Should I do cardio before or after a workout?

A recent study in Sports Medicine analyzes the difference between doing cardio exercises before and after a workout. The results show that the morning cardio session with some strength training exercises was beneficial for overall health.

When should I do cardio in the evening or morning?

Experts prefer cardio exercises in the morning, even some strenuous activities like weight lifting. It’s according to the internal body clock working. Cardio will be less tiring when you wake up in the morning than strenuous weight-lifting exercises.

What is an ideal cardio schedule?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, it is advised to do vigorous cardio exercises only three days per week and moderate-intensity exercises for 30 minutes 5 days a week.


Rabia Sehar
Rabia Sehar

Hi! I’m Rabia Sehar, a motivated, passionate and sophisticated writer aspiring to make my dreams come true. Writing about health, wellness, mental health, and lifestyle is something I specialize in and am passionate about. I love traveling, reading, composing, and entertaining. As a health advocate, I am passionate about creating content that educates people on leading a healthy life. Health is the actual wealth so try your best to keep it.