The exercise options that are provided when entering a gym range from purely aerobic activities to exclusive strength training. To combine one with the other, it is very important to have well defined the sporting objectives that you want to achieve.

The so-called cardio, or the aerobic activity that can be executed for example on the treadmills or ellipticals in a gym, is a part of the activity that can serve as a warm-up as it can be an independent exercise. But when is it more correct to do cardio, before or after weights?

The personal trainer and graduate in Health and Sports Sciences Miguel Barrios (collegiate number 61.014) explains that this aerobic activity depends on personal preferences and is not directly involved in muscle development or in the gain of strength, although it can intervene in the loss of the body’s fat percentage (like any other physical activity).

It should be remembered that, to lose fat weight, “the most effective thing is to maintain an adequate diet that allows us to be in a slight energy deficit”, Miguel points out. “Regarding caloric expenditure, the most influential thing would be to change our mode of travel for a more active one, since it will fulfill the function of transport, health and energy expenditure.

Cardio before weights

Before a weight training some aerobic activity can be introduced as part of the warm-up. “We can define the warm-up as the preparatory part for an activity that demands a certain level of effort and / or the initial phase of any type of physical-sporting session”, defines Miguel. There are studies that estimate that it could increase up to 10% performance in some sports modalities.

One of the main goals of warming up is to raise the body’s temperature in order to prepare it for exertion. To do this, we should introduce one or more exercises that mimic the movement patterns that we will reproduce in training. Thus, “If we are going to run, we will run and if we are going to do training with loads, we will imitate them.”

Miguel Barrios points out that running, in the case of weights, It would not be necessary but it is recommended, since it is a simple way to prepare cardiovascularly so that a good blood flow reaches the muscles. What is important is to perform approximation series in the exercises that we are going to do with holds to reach the ideal training intensity.

Next, we should always perform a specific warm-up, which would include mobility work, dynamic stretching and the aforementioned approximation series in each weight exercise (or at least in the first ones, especially if we repeat similar movements).

Cardio after weights

If what we are looking for, in addition to warming up, is to increase energy expenditure, we can go from doing this type of aerobic exercise of 5 or 10 minutes to a duration that has to depend on two factors: the time available and the fatigue that can be endured so that it does not negatively affect the performance of the subsequent training.

Therefore, if the main sport objective is to gain strength and / or muscle mass, it will be better save cardiovascular exercise for last for two reasons. The first will be a possible lack of time and the security will be the adjustment of fatigue and intensity without affecting the main training.

As long as the intensity is low and we are not high-performance athletes, cardio will not affect weight training goals. Combining the two training modalities (aerobic and strength) before, after or even during, will not affect us too much, as long as we like it and we have the time availability.

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