Should You Do Cadio Before or After Weights?

Should You Do Cadio Before or After Weights?

Staff Writer
6 minute read

Should You Do Cadio Before or After Weights?

There seems to be a big debate in fitness circles about combining cardio and weightlifting or strength training, with claims that it will hinder your strength and muscle gains and won’t actually help you burn so many calories so it is not worth the effort. But is there truth to those claims or are these people only losing a myriad of health benefits of doing more cardio and specially combining it with strength training?

Today we look into research regarding cardio and the effects and interaction with strength training such as weightlifting and the benefits of combining them both. So keep reading to learn more about cardio, how many calories you can actually burn doing these activities,and why combining both cardio with strength training might be best for your health and fitness goals, and more.


Cardio is a great form of physical activity and exercise to not only help you lose fat but also to improve your overall health with some proven benefits like lowering your blood pressure,

Improving blood flow and arterial health or reducing cholesterol.

There are in fact a few benefits from doing cardio that can not be equaled by weightlifting alone. Most of which have to do with cardiovascular health like increasing capillarity health and density, improving the ability of arteries to expand and contract, decreasing blood pressure significantly, or even burning from 50 to 100% more calories per unit of time than weightlifting. 

But weightlifting alone can have a lot of the same health benefits as cardio, including improved heart health, improved insulin sensitivity and allowing you to maintain or increase muscle and lean mass and getting stronger which is something that cardio falls short on.

However there have been several studies of the combined benefits of both and that seems to be the best way to go, with a smart plan that combines strength training and some moderate to high cardio training.


Probably the main benefit that you’ll notice by adding cardio to your routine is how it helps you lose weight by burning more calories. And in fact it can burn more calories than weightlifting and thus becomes a great tool for your weight loss efforts.

A group of researchers developed a method of indirect calorimetry to assess how many calories you could burn with different activities and training methods by calculating the estimated energy your body burns per kilogram of bodyweight with each activity.

For example some of the MET values of different activities are 0.9 for Sleeping or 1.58 for just sittin at your desk. For Intense weightlifting (powerlifting or bodybuilding) the MET is a 6 and for most types of low to moderate cardio the MET is higher, for example 9 for running at a moderate pace. By multiplying these with the bodyweight of the athlete and the time doing the activity it was shown that an hour of weightlifting usually burns around 500 calories, but one hour of moderate cardio can burn from 500 to over 1000 calories.


There’s a lot of research on the topic and it all seems to conclude that combining cardio and weightlifting is a great way to boost your fitness and strength goals while improving your overall health and without seeing much interference between the two training modalities but actually boosting each other.

A combination of cardio and weightlifting is better at lowering blood pressure than either one alone. This was found in a study comparing the effects of each modality alone and then combined and found a bigger decrease in blood pressure in the combined group as well as losing more fat, and gaining strength and muscle.

A combination of cardio and weightlifting has been proven to be better at improving cholesterol levels than any of both modalities alone by reducing LDL levels and increasing HDL levels and helping regulate hormonal health.

A Combination of Cardio and Weightlifting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity more than just doing one of them on its own: The single best way to permanently improve insulin sensitivity is to lose fat and get closer to a healthier weight, but the improvement can be boosted more as well as your whole metabolic health by combining both training modalities.


By doing both and doing them often, Although it is true that large amounts of intense cardio training could interfere with your recovery for  strength and muscle goals; this is not true for moderate intensity and amount of cardio training as a supplementation to your strength weightlifting sessions. So here’s our main advice on how to start combining both modalities and reapp all the benefits:

  • Always check with your doctor before starting a new training plan so they can guide you and hopefully refer you to a qualified trainer to monitor your efforts.

  • If you just started lifting weights, start adding cardio now in moderate amounts before you become worrying of there being interference between both modalities.

  • Start just by adding one or two light to moderate cardio sessions every week and see if you can stay consistent with that schedule. Remember the biggest key to getting the health and weight loss benefits of adding cardio to your routine is as always staying consistent.

  • HIIT type of cardio can be great to save time and burn extra calories, however the high pace and intensity makes it hard to do very often, and that is totally fine since the high intensity can make it interfere with your strength gains, so do include HIIT into your routine but sparingly and not so often that it becomes hard to keep up.

  • Try doing at least two easy cardio workouts per week of 20 to 40 minutes each as research shows that even a small moderate amount can start improving your health and giving all the mentioned benefits. Even starting regular walking can help improve your cardiovascular health and burn more fat.

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