Are you the ‘early bird who catches the cardio’?
If you ask any serious lifter, they’ll probably talk in a spitefully critical manner about even doing cardio and at the same time. On the other hand, the majority of those who step in the gym after 5 p.m. that endorses it. Some may even suggest waking up at 4:00 am or 5:00 am and doing cardio exclusively later in the day.
Are you confused on what to do and what not to? There has to be the best time to do cardio!
Doing cardio has its own benefits and weight lifting has its own perks. Cardio helps to increase the flow of oxygen in your body while weightlifting strengthens your muscles. The question is, why you should do weights before cardio?
Doing Weights Before Cardio
You must have a proper strategy developed for doing cardio and weightlifting to maximize your gains and meet your fitness goals. For instance, excessive cardio will hinder your muscle gains. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate cardiovascular training, instead of routine it with your lifting for a more synergistic effect.
Check out a few reasons why you should lift before doing your cardio.
1. Energy Depletion
In short, doing cardio before weights will suck the energy out of your body. You won’t be able to perform at your best under the bar. There are three main types of energy systems inside your body. These include the Glycolytic, ATP-PC, and Oxidative energy systems. Each one has its own role in fueling your body.
The Oxidative system has 2+ minutes of demand, glycolytic system between 30 seconds to 2 minutes and ATP-PC system for 12 seconds or even less. Cardio and weight training have a different influence on your energy systems.
It is noteworthy to mention that the better your conditioning is, the more efficient your body uses that energy. It’d be like having 10 gallons of gas and driving a Prius instead of an Excursion.
- Oxidative System: Fuels for high-rep work with up to 10+ reps.
- Glycolytic: For heavier lifts with 6 reps approx.
- ATP-PC: Hardcore lifts with three or fewer
- Oxidative System: For 800+ long run duration.
- Glycolytic: For 600+ meter runs
- APT-PC: For short sprints.
This comparison shows that if you do the cardiovascular exercise before weight training, you’ll simply burn out all energy systems… especially the ones required in heavy weight training. Doing weights before cardio is beneficial to your energy systems and how quickly you can recover.
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2. Production of Enzymes
Your body produces different enzymes during different exercises. When you do cardio, a low-intensity workout, AMPK enzyme is produced and it inhibits the signaling of mTOR enzyme which is produced during weight lifting and is very important for muscle growth.
In simple, doing cardio first will only decrease the mTOR enzyme production and your weight lifting won’t have the same effect as you intended. It also tends to slow down protein synthesis during post-workout, which will inhibit your gains even further. This sounds pretty counter-productive.
Cardio causes intense muscle fatigue and increases your heart rate so much that it hinders the flow of energy in your bloodstream to fuel your muscles during weight training. This fatigue is not only physical but also mental. You will be able to achieve more on a day you don’t feel like you have the energy than if you tried lifting after cardio.
Weight training demands physical energy and mental focus both at the same time. Your body has to perform at its best in limited time.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Many people will do cardio for three days after their weight training. However, you can also keep a day for cardio only.
For example, if Monday was for Chest and Back, Tuesday could be used for doing cardio only. This technique also works. Your muscles get the rest while your burn fat.
We’ve given you the science behind why you should lift weights before you do cardio. However, if you find that doing cardio before lifting helps you lift better, go for it. Everyone’s body is different, and some people have better conditioning than others. Overall, your muscles must get enough time to recover if you want to get jacked.