Cardio before Weights or Weights before Cardio?

Neil Price, Osteopath

 UK guidelines for exercise state that it should include both cardiovascular and weights/resistance training but what is the best way of organising your routine? The answer may surprise you.

Many people will combine their cardiovascular training and their resistance training in one routine (this is known as “concurrent” training) but the order in which you perform these exercises can have an effect on the results you will achieve.

Traditionally, most workouts have started with a gentle warm up and a good solid cardio set to ensure that you are “fully warmed up” before hitting the heavy stuff, but new research published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that the order of your exercises should be dictated by the main goals of your exercise plan.


Under 65’s

It seems that for most people under the age of 65, the exercise you choose to perform first reduces the quality and effectiveness of the exercise you choose to perform afterwards, probably due to residual fatigue interfering with the quality of subsequent exercises.  Therefore, if your main goal is to improve cardiovascular performance then you should perform this first in your routine. The reverse is also true – if gains in strength and power are your main goal, you should perform these first. Both types of exercise have important health benefits so you should decide which is more important for you.


Women Over 65

Interestingly, this seems not to be the case if you are over 65, especially if you are a woman.

It seems that this group of people should always be performing their resistance training first, since this order seems to maximally increase both cardiorespiratory and strength fitness.

It’s thought to be due to the fact that by age 65, we are all losing some of our lean muscle mass, which is still required for cardio exercise, so prioritising an efficient strength training routine is actually more effective for both cardio and resistance training for people in this age group.


Remember that we should all be performing both types of exercise – cardio and resistance/weights!  Happy training! Please call for more information or to make an appointment with Neil.

NHS Guidelines: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults.aspx

Full article from ACSM:

http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2014/01000/Which_Comes_First__Resistance_Before_Aerobic.5.aspx