One of the hottest topics amongst people in the gym is “what’s the best time to do cardio.” These are people who actually get into this discussion to get off the treadmill and stay away from the spin bike. This casual discussion more often than not turns into a heated argument.
There are many schools of thought when it comes to the timing of cardio in a workout. While some people might do their cardio as per their convenience, science can help you get more out of your cardio and workout.
The First Question
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to doing cardio in the gym. The first thing to determine is your goal. If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s best for you to do your cardio before lifting weights.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to add muscle mass, you should be doing your cardio after you’re done lifting weights. This will make sure you’re not exhausted before you even lift.
The Science Behind It
What we’ve stated above isn’t some bro science. The results of cardio depend greatly on your ultimate goal and the timing of your cardio session will greatly impact your desired results. It can also help you shorten your 45-minute cardio sessions into 20-minute sessions.
Our body produces an organic molecule called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. This molecule is responsible for every rep and set we perform. The sad thing about ATP is, we only have a fixed amount of ATP production in our body.
This is the reason you need to take rest between sets. What you’re actually doing during the rest period is waiting for your ATP reserves to fill up again so you can give it your all in the next set.
Most of the pre-workouts these days have two main ingredients, caffeine, and creatine. A lot has been said about creatine in the past. To clear things up, creatine is one of the most researched supplement on the market.
The main feature of creatine is to help you replenish your ATP reserves faster so you can get more out of your workouts. If you have ever felt exhausted in the middle of your workouts, it is because your ATP reserves have drained.
If you do your cardio sessions at the beginning of your workouts, the chances of your ATP reserves vanishing are very high. Especially if you’re not taking a pre-workout or a standalone creatine supplement to help with your workout.
You don’t want to exhaust your ATP reserves before a brutal leg workout. Taking a creatine supplement and replenishing your ATP levels isn’t as simple as it sounds. Your body breaks down carbohydrates to make this molecule.