When you schedule a workout into your busy day, you probably have only a small window of time to get the job done. So what's the best way to structure an efficient gym session — do you get your treadmill stint in before the weight room or do you try running after lifting?
Running after lifting will not ruin your workout. Trainers agree that it’s perfectly acceptable and effective to run either before or after weight lifting. When you choose to structure your cardiovascular work and resistance training, the best order depends on your personal goals, your attitude toward certain facets of fitness, and the type of strength work you are completing that day.
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Combine Cardio with Strength Training
It is widely known that regular cardiovascular exercise and resistance training are both important when it comes to your overall health and wellness — but "being known" and being put into action are two different things.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 22.9 percent of U.S. adults 18 to 64 meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. That means more than 77 percent of adults in the U.S. are falling short. But what are the guidelines, anyway?
According to the American Heart Association, adults should be getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week. In addition, adults should add at least two days per week of resistance training or weight lifting. While that may seem like a lot of time, experts agree it's well worth the effort.
The benefits of regular exercise, as touted by the President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, include weight control, muscle strength, fat reduction, strong bones, muscles and joints, improved sleep, stress relief, improved self esteem, prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke and an increased chance of living longer. In summary, regular exercise increases your chances of living a longer, happier and healthier life.
Read more: Strength vs. Endurance Exercises
Is Running After Lifting Best?
When it comes to running before lifting or running after lifting, trainers agree that both are perfectly acceptable and effective. In other words, there is no ultimate "right" or "wrong" way to order your cardio and weight lifting. In fact, even the American Council on Exercise (ACE) says that this question is complicated to say the least.
In order to determine the method that's best for you, ACE recommends the following as a baseline. However, it's far more important that the overall guidelines for physical activity outlined by the American Heart Association above are met, first and foremost.
Do Your Cardio First
- If better endurance performance is your goal
- If cardio exercise energizes you
Do Your Strength First
- If your goal is to get leaner or lose weight
- If you are mostly concerned with improving strength
- If you are doing lower-body strength that day (running after a leg workout is preferred)
Do Either First
- If you are only doing upper body strength that day
- If you have general fitness goals, try the one you enjoy more first
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “National Health Statistics Reports”
- American Heart Association: “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids”
- President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition: “Importance of Physical Activity”
- American Council on Exercise: “Cardio or Weights First? Cardio Before vs. After Lifting”