Which comes first: shampoo or conditioner? Easy. It’s always shampoo. If only exercise were that simple. No matter how good we get at understanding exercise science, there are still some topics that seem forever debatable. One of those topics is the order of cardio and weight training. Which one comes first? Wed like the answer to be simple, but it’s a bit complicated. The good news? I’ll explain how it can be simple for you. It’s only a complicated and difficult question if we are after an answer that applies to everyone. The answer for you is likely simple.
First, if you or someone you know has recently joined the new Never Do Cardio cult, that’s not the answer and please read this first. Extremism in fitness is a dangerous idea, and vacillating between always and never on a topic misses the mark every time. From crunches to running shoes to cardio, extremism is for lazy thinkers who dislike nuance.
We know cardio junkies won’t want to hear this, but intense, QUALITY weight training is actually MORE effective for fat loss than cardio training. Why the emphasis on quality? Well, if you go to the gym and just flail around with light weights for 30 minutes, it’s not really going to be very effective for fat loss.
However, if you really put some effort into it and train hard, the metabolic boost you get from weight training (in terms of not only calories burned while doing it but the increase in metabolism after AND the increase in muscle mass you get from weight training) can be greater than the boost you get from cardio training. And, when compared to slow, long- duration cardio training, that boost is MUCH greater.
So by performing your weight training FIRST, while you’re fresh, you’re going to have more energy to put into it, and you’re going to be stronger. This will increase metabolic and muscle mass stimulation and therefore an overall fat loss. It’s a win-win situation!
That’s not to say you cant do a couple of minutes of cardio as a general warm-up before starting into the weights…just don’t do an entire cardio session before weight training. Always keep in mind that the weight training is the REAL engine behind your fat-loss efforts. By the time you’re done with cardio and move to weights THAT is when you’re in the optimal fat-burning mode.
But the problem is, fat is NOT an efficient fuel for weight training. By doing cardio first, you use up all the good stuff for weight training and force your body to make do with a less powerful fuel source. Your weight training workouts will decrease in quality, and your cardio efforts won’t be as effective for achieving fat burning, which is your primary goal!