Before strength training, after strength training, during, between, and so on and so forth! There are so many opinions on when to perform your cardiorespiratory training it’s easy to get confused on what is the BEST option! I think that if we asked 10 Personal Trainers this question you could quite possibly get 10 totally different answers! A bodybuilder may tell you to perform your strength training in the morning and your cardio in the evening while a runner would espouse performing treadmill work at the beginning of every exercise session. Regardless of where the information is being obtained it’s important to evaluate the opinions and apply it to your workouts the way it benefits you the most individually!
The trend that I have found to be optimal for me is to perform my cardio at the beginning of every session. Performing my cardio training at the beginning, whether it’s a steady state session, HIIT training, or a program on the Step Mill, is what supercharges my workouts and sets a “ceiling” for my heart rate to continually climb to when strength training afterwards! Through hours of long workouts and being my own personal guinea pig I’ve been able to see how I get the biggest boost from my cardio and by utilizing my heart rate monitor I can easily evaluate my average heart rate and total calorie burn at the end.
On average I am able to burn 300-500 calories more when performing my cardio at the beginning of my workouts versus leaving it until after my strength training is complete. I am able to get my Heart Rate close to 90% max or even higher in some cases which allows my heart to continually climb back in the 75%-90% range when strength training afterwards. My average heart rate also is much higher overall at the conclusion of my session when compared to a session where cardio is performed after my weight training. Because I utilize a jump rope as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) between weight sets I am able to spike my heart rate easier and consequently higher when I’ve performed my cardio at the beginning of the workout.
During the occasions when I save my cardio training until the end of the workout I often have considerable trouble getting my heart rate to rise during strength training and when I can get it spike during repetitions it falls very quickly back to 50-60% of my maximum heart rate. This in turn limits my overall calorie burn and although it helps to spare glycogen for lifts during my strength training portion, I don’t notice as much of an overall fatigue when compared to the opposing cardio routine alternative.
Being that I’m not currently training for a bodybuilding competition or working towards maximum muscle growth, performing my cardiorespitory training at the beginning of my workouts helps to push me into a higher heart rate range and substantially increases the overall calorie burn expended during my workouts. Because my training goals are to be as efficient as possible and get as much bang for my buck when in the gym I prefer to do the cardio at the beginning of workouts versus the end and take advantage of the raised EPOC levels after I’m finished! Take control of your workouts and really examine what option works best for YOU!……The giant in the “Flex” magazine or the underwear model in “Men’s Health” may have a workout that is fantastic for them, but evaluating your goals and finding the program that fits them is the best way to get extreme results and ultimately help you make the changes you desire!———> R-Squared