The great debate of whether you should do cardio before or after lifting gets brought up around this time of the year. Should you get your cardio in before or after you lift weights?
Below, we will go over the science behind cardio, how you should warm up, the different types of cardio, and lastly, when you should do it.
There are plenty of articles that talk about how cardio affects your recovery, but there aren’t too many going over when you should perform it.
A buddy of mine is currently training for the Arnold and is deadlifting more than 700lbs. Maintaining enough energy to lift heavy takes a lot of patience and teaching your body. Keep this in mind; it will be relevant further down..
What is ATP and why do I need to worry about it?
ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate, and it is a molecule your body creates when you train. It is basically a biological unit that accounts for energy.
So, what happens is your body breaks down carbohydrates, makes ATP, and this allows you to lift. ATP is stored in your muscles and your liver.
Knowing this, you can take a guess your ATP storage is limited, so use it wisely. Slogging through a 30-minute step mill session will deplete some, if not all ATP, which leaves you with little to no energy for lifting.
What do you do about warming up?
Warming up is something that many go overboard with, so lets break this down.
When you warm up, you do not need 20 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes foam rolling, 10 minutes static stretching, and five minutes of dynamic stretching… your body is not a frail little flower.
Tips on warming up:
- The goal is to raise your body temperature and get ready for moving. Think how you feel after you just get out of bed versus moving around for a few minutes.
- Pick something that will not affect your work output. A short brisk walk, a few minutes on the elliptical, etc. No need to get all out of breath.
- Before lifting, dynamically stretch and move the areas you intend to hit. If you are benching, do a set with the bar and then ramp up to your working weight.
- Stay moving – don’t start training and stop to text someone.