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Weights then Cardio?

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Hi all,

I'm new to this so if this question has already been addressed, I apologize. I met with a trainer briefly last night and he was telling me that I should always do my weight training before cardio in a workout.

Does anyone know why?

Thank you!

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Its got something to do with muscle fatigue. For weights you want your muscles fresh and not tired.  Usually in cardio you do not use as many muscles that strenously. 
weight lifting with proper form is important to prevent you from injuring yourself... it's harder to do the lift properly if your muscles are already fatigued. plus, IMO you can lift more if you haven't already run a few miles (etc) on them. :)
I suppose that depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  I use weight to supplement my cycling.  The cycling is more important so it gets first priority.  As far as muscle fatigue, that is just a matter of recovery time.  I probably can't recover from a metric century quickly enough to put in a session with the weights.  But I can work out with the weights shortly after a 10 or 20 mile ride.  The last time I tried it the other way around, I really struggled on the bike ride.
The trainer is right and wrong. A lot of it depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are trying to build muscle and get bigger then cardio after weights are fine. BUt if you are trying to lose bodyfat and stay firm while you do it. Do some HIIT cardio for about 20 minutes then do a total body workout. That will kick styart the fat burning and give you one greta wrokout.

You will lift less weight due to glycogen depletion in your muscles but thats what you want; because then the body will start to use the stored fat for energy! And you will lose BF% and tone at the same time.
Thank you everyone. I am trying to lose body fat and tone rather than build a lot of muscle. I have been doing this for about 3 weeks nearly every day. I can see that my clothing is fitting better however Ive gained 2 pounds. From what I understand I just need to hang in there with it.

Appreciate the advice!

i'm studying to be a personal trainer and i've learned from many different sources that doing weights before cardio is essential for proper weight loss, otherwise you're working against yourself.

this can be sort of confusing so bear with me!:

you're body burns energy from two different energy sources, glycogen and fat. it must burn an adequate amount from your glycogen stores before burning from your fat stores. weight training burns primarily glycogen in your body, and cardio burns primarily fat. if you hop right on the treadmill before your weightlifting it takes approx. 29 minutes to burn your glycogen stores, so if you do your strength training after this you've already depleted your body of the energy it needs for weightlifting from the glycogen stores. hope this helps!

here's a site explaining it further:
Weight training does not just burn Glycogen it is an anaerobic exercise that burns calories, just like cardio. is  an aerobic exercise that burns calories. Your body doesn't know the difference it just knows it needs energy and it will get it from anywhere it can. So if you exercise for more the 20 minutes regardless of which route you take you will still burn calories.
My science may be rusty, but don't you need a bit of glycogen to get the fat burning? It's like starting a fire. Glycogen=kindling, fat=logs, areobics=with oxygen=air... all the ingredients to get a nice toasty long-burning fire going!

 ... so if you deplete all your glycogen stores by weight training first, you might not be able to start that fat burning when you start your cardio session. You know this has happened when you're wiped out and just can't seem to get going and into the groove.. of course, we are assuming here that you have depleted all your glycogen stores during that weight session...

Whereas if you do cardio first, *assuming* you don't exhaust all your glycogen stores during your cardio (i.e., you have properly stocked glycogen amounts by eating right and you didn't just run 10 miles or you weren't doing sprints/running too fast), then it's glycogen that your muscles rely on for anaerobic (i.e, without oxygen) exercise.

As for me.... I always ran before I lifted, because running was my priority. I only ran for 30 minutes on days I was going to lift, and saved my long runs for days I wasn't going to lift.

Incidentally, the article in that link is just plain wrong, saying you only burned fat for 1 minute during 30 min of cardio?? Or maybe I misread it, but that doesn't sound right!
the article isn't saying weight training just burns glycogen, obviously it burns calories too LOL, the point is just that, ideally, most of your glycogen should be burned off (by weight training) before you do cardio which would then take from your fat stores. i've heard this from tons of trainers too, your body burns from different energy stores at different times. i was doing cardio before weights and i couldn't lose any weight, as soon as i switched to weights before cardio i started getting slimmer. i'm not an expert haha just my personal experience!
Hey Runner816 I would like to give you some advice from one trainer to another up and coming trainer. The lesson's you learn getting your certification is just the tip of the iceburg, and they teach all of the same stuff, do this before that and never mix this and that.

You are going to have to go out and seek your own knowledge read studies from both sides of the fence and don't be afraid to try things with clients, just because it goes against the norm doesn't always mean it won't work. There are new studies everyday some are bogus but some are done right and yield some interesting results.

I have been a trainer for 17 years and the stuff I learned in school have been flipped around so many times it is ridiculous. the best way to learnd what works is to try it on clients and see how the body responds if it works great if ti doesn't then you try something else. It can be really fun sometimes!
thanks for the advice bodyscience! i definitely agree and totally see what you're saying and i've been experimenting with myself even, it is pretty fun (that sounds weird haha). for example the weights before cardio thing, that worked for me so i just wanted to share that with chellehenning and thought it might help her! my ultimate goal is to be a nutritionist, but a personal trainer first, so i'll take any advice i can get!
According to the articleso if you do cardio 1st and then lift wieght you will lose muscle  andthat you need to lift weights first then do cardio I am so  confused...... I always thought it was all the way around  :()
Cardio or weights first
1 g protein per lb or per kg
aerobic vs anaerobic
stretch before or after
morning or afternoon workout

I think the beauty of fitness and being a trainer is that there is little black and white.  What works for one person will without a doubt be the exact opposite of what another person should do.

For me personally, I'm with jc343 and jenmcc in that running is my primary focus, so I do a short cardio session first, then lift afterwards.  I find I can still lift plenty of weight, sometimes even more than I can if I lift cold, because my muscles are quite warmed up without being as fatigued as they would be had I done a normal length run.  (For example, I may run 2-3 easy miles, then lift.  I won't be nearly so tired as if I tried to lift after I ran 5+ or even 3 at a 5k pace.)

And, if I lift first, I seem to have poor results from my run, no matter how I try to pace myself.  And that is more demoralizing to me than having to lift 5 fewer pounds or do a rep or two less.  (Which again, may not be the case, because sometimes I've got so much post-run energy.)

To each his own - everyone should experiment with themselves every bit as much as we 'experiment' with clients.  :)
you also have to remember i am not talking about a long cardio session. I am talking about a short intense HIIT session of about 20 minutes.

Try each one for a week and see what YOU prefer.  I have done it both ways but now that I have discovered HIIT I do the cardio first.  Otherwise, I don't have the energy left to do the HIIT , but I do have the energy to do weights after HIIT. 

There is no "ONE" way of doing a workout.  Workouts are as individual, as the individual doing them! 

P.S. If you haven't tried HIIT I highly recommend it! 
Ok I am the slow girl...

What exactly is HIIT...

Sorry =-)

I'm a personal trainer and am new to this site, so a little late on responding.  I noticed that you were receiving some rather mixed information as far as when to incorporate cardio into your routine.  There is a right and a wrong answer, as long as fat loss is one of your goals, even if it isn't the main goal.  Unfortunately, the responses to your question seemed to be less about helping you and more about a back-and-forth of various information among various participants.  Confusing for you, I'm sure.  My suggestion is to research this topic outside of this site, for example on, for the most responsible, professional answer.  Or google GLYCOGEN STORES CARDIO AND TRAINING, and you should have no problem finding the answer to your cardio question.  Good luck and happy training! 
My trainer has also told me to do the lifting first then cardio.  I have several body builder buddies at the gym I work out at, they all lift weights first, never ever do cario first.  Weights do come first!!!
I just ran across this thread. I went to a training session this morning and I was instructed to do weights before cardio. There was a lot of talk of hormones and stored fat and glycogen. Hell, it was 6:00 am, wasn't at my best mentally.

Like others have suggested, I am just going to try doing weights first/cardo second for a couple of weeks first. If it doesn't work for me I will switch it up.

Hi everyone, I'm new to this too so sorry if I seem to be asking a stupid Q.

So over the last few months I've started to really try and eat healthily and exercise far more. I've definitely got more trim but haven't really lost lots of weight. My legs and arms are slim but I still have some excess weight around my stomach. I go to the gym about 3/4 days a week, run 3km on the treadmill, cycle 8 km and do 10 minutes on the stair master. I do some light weights in between all that. If I have some energy left then I go on the cross trainer.

I want to look thinner (have no interest in building muscle, as in getting bulky looking), should I do my weights first off or in the middle of my workout or nearer the end?

Because I've been sort of surprised that the weight hasn't started to fall off me considering in the past I didn't watch my weight at all and didn't really exercise. My mum thinks that I'm the type of person who doesn't put on weight easily but who also doesn't lose it easily?

Basically I just want any advice that can get me the best weight loss per my workouts! Thanks



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