Cardio Questions – Should You Perform Cardio After Strength Training?

One of the topics I get asked about a lot is whether or not it’s a good idea to do cardiovascular exercise after a weightlifting workout. Usually when this is asked “cardio” refers to some sort of steady-state activity for 20-30 minutes such as walking on the treadmill or riding an exercise bike. Like almost every other question in fitness the answer is “it depends”.

First, let’s look at the goal of doing this cardio. Usually when asking this question the person is trying to lose fat or at least maintain a lean physique. First of all, the most efficient method to achieve a lean physique is not through hours of steady-state cardio. It is through whole-body interval training and a good weight training program. However, steady state cardio does have its place:

-It chews away at calories. It’s not the most efficient calorie burner, but it’s a low stress way to get rid of some. We have many more Cardio Workout Routine Articles Now Available.

-It promotes blood flow. After a hard weight workout the steady state cardio does a good job pushing blood through your damaged muscles. This will help flush away waste products and deliver nutrients.

-Steady-state cardio utilizes a lot of free fatty acids for energy. Hard weight training doesn’t use nearly as much of them, but the body releases a lot of these fatty acids into the blood in response to it. Rather than redeposit them, the steady state cardio will use up a few.

Ideally, you would want your sessions divided to allow for more recovery time. For example, you’d lift weights earlier in the day and then several hours later do some cardiovascular activity. However, I know that most people don’t have that type of luxury in their schedule. Once they make it to the gym, that’s it. There’s no time for twice a day sessions. So for the average person, if you are going to perform cardio then chances are it would be after your weight training.

My strength training and cardio combining recommendations are as follows:

-Other than maybe a little cardio to help you warm up, do your strength training workout first. If you push hard with 30 minutes of cardio first then you will probably compromise your strength training. Chances are that even after a hard weight workout you’ll probably still be able to perform adequately on your cardio.

-Be sure to pay attention to your pre-workout nutrition. If you are going to do more than 30 minutes of cardio after a strength-training session then consume a post-workout snack between the two. Your pre-workout nutrition should include easy to digest protein and carbohydrates. Any snack you eat during your workout must be easy to digest or a liquid, otherwise you might upset your stomach.

-There’s no need to do a bunch of cardio if it’s going to keep you in the gym for over two hours. Keep your strength workouts crisp and intense with brief rest periods and you’ll find a lot less need for steady state cardio, if at all.

While I generally support doing high intensity interval training as the primary form of fat loss exercise in most programs, I do understand that there are limits as far as scheduling and recovery ability. This is the greatest benefit of steady-state cardiovascular activity. It allows you to burn off some extra calories without greatly hampering your recovery ability or over-stressing your body. With the right preparations and used correctly it can be an effective adjunct to your fat loss training program. We have many more Cardio Workout Routine Articles Now Available.