Does Timing Make a Difference?: Which Times of Day to Lift Weights and Do Cardio

It's the age-old debate: Is it better to do cardio in the morning and weight training in the evening, or should you combine them both into one workout? Well, depending on who you ask, you may hear anything from, "Always separate the two workouts" to "It doesn't really matter, as long as you get your body moving."

The decision to do cardio or weightlifting in the morning depends on your overall fitness goals. (Image: PeopleImages/E+/GettyImages)

While both answers have some truth to them, the reality is, when you do your workouts and how you schedule them is way more personal than it is scientific.

Tip

Whether you should lift weights or do cardio in the morning depends on your training goals and how you fuel your body.

Cardio or Weights In the Morning?

If your fitness plan includes both cardiovascular exercise and strength training, you've likely faced the challenge of fitting both of these types of exercise into a single workout. And if time is of the essence, finding time to squeeze exercise into your busy day is a challenge by itself. If that sounds like you, the idea of doing cardio in the morning and weight training in the evening probably seems impossible. While separating these two does have some health and fitness benefits, it's not a requirement.

That said, what you need to determine for yourself is your best time of day to work out and how you can combine the two methods of exercise to get the maximum benefits. Some people find that weight training in the evening works better for their body. If your eating is on point, the number of calories you have available for energy is greatest in the evening.

  • Plan on eating dinner or a snack at least 60 to 90 minutes prior to an evening weight-training session.
  • When doing cardio in the morning, it's wise to eat a small snack at least 30 to 60 minutes before exercising. Some people like to do cardio in the morning on an empty stomach, but for the most part, having some food in your body prior to exercise is the way to go.
  • If you plan on alternating cardio and weight training, consider doing a morning cardio session one day, and then a weight-training session on another day in the evening. This will help you rest and recover from each training session.

Cardio Before or After a Workout?

When you can't schedule two-a-day workouts, your next step is to identify your fitness goals and build your workout around those.

  • If your only interest is working out and maintaining fitness, you can do cardio before or after your workout with weights.
  • If gaining muscle strength and size is your goal, then doing cardio before or after a workout does matter.
  • If your primary concern is improving strength, then doing cardio after your weight-training workout is the best option.
  • If improving your cardiovascular endurance is your goal, performing aerobic exercise before strength training is recommended (e.g., training for a marathon).

How to Schedule Two-a-Day Workouts

If you've decided to take the plunge and try twice-daily workouts, being thoughtful about your work, eating and sleep schedule is critical to your success. When you're first starting out, try doing cardio in the morning and weight training in the evening.

This schedule seems to work best if you work a typical day shift and sleep during the overnight hours. Also, pay close attention to your nutrition and recovery. Both are critical to your success when you work out two times a day.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.