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Cardio Exercises Before Strength Training

author image Pam Murphy
Pam Murphy is a writer specializing in fitness, childcare and business-related topics. She is a member of the National Association for Family Child Care and contributes to various websites. Murphy is a licensed childcare professional and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Georgia.
Cardio Exercises Before Strength Training
Two young women are jogging together. Photo Credit Reptile8488/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you perform your cardiovascular and strength-training workouts on the same day or in a certain order is mostly a matter of preference. Evaluating your fitness goals can help you make a more informed decision. Decide what you want to accomplish through your exercise program and schedule your workouts accordingly.


If your primary goal is to improve your fitness and health, the order and timing of your cardio and strength training is really up to you. To increase calorie burn or improve your cardiovascular endurance, it's important to do your cardio first, when your muscles are fresh. On the other hand, if you want to emphasize strength over endurance, do weight training first or on a different day, since the intensity of your strength-building session may be diminished following an aerobic workout.


When you combine your cardio and strength workouts on the same day, the order of your activities can be alternated to focus on endurance one day and strength the next. An intense weight workout before cardio potentially increases the amount of fat you burn during aerobic activity. It can also help you reduce muscle soreness. However, it's possible that you'll be too fatigued to perform your aerobic workout at usual intensity. Likewise, following cardio with weight training can affect your form and increase your risk for injury. The risks really depend on the intensity and duration of each workout.


Both cardio and strength training are important factors in improving fitness and health. Aerobic exercise improves your stamina, helps with weight management, strengthens your immunity, reduces health risks associated with inactivity and improves your mood. The benefits of strength training include improvements in bone density, balance and mental focus. As long as you include both cardio and muscle-building activities in your exercise regimen, you'll reap the benefits of a balanced program, regardless of when you do them. If following cardio with strength training on the same day works better with your schedule or helps you stay motivated, go for it.


Aim to get aerobic exercise at least five days a week. When you follow your cardio workouts with strength training, avoid targeting the same muscles on consecutive days. For example, if you work your legs during strength training on Monday, focus on your upper body on Tuesday. Or if you work all the major muscle groups following cardio on Monday, wait until Wednesday or Thursday to perform weight-training exercises again. Strength gain occurs when you give your muscles time to repair. Although you can perform cardio every day if you want, give muscle groups a 24-hour break from strength training for best results. Stretch each muscle group after cardio and strength-training sessions. Stretching your muscles after a workout limits muscle soreness and helps keep your joints pliable. Hold each stretch for 15 to 20 seconds for best results.

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