How Should I Mix Weight Training and Cardio?

Get the Basics...

  • Weight training is important for your metabolism and your muscles
  • Cardio is essential for a healthy heart
  • Alternating weight training and cardio is a great way to maximize your routine

There is some debate as to whether or not performing cardio before or after weight training is more effective. However, while you can perform both routines on the same day it is better to alternate days.

As you build muscles, you increase your metabolism and strengthen your core. Muscles are important for your total skeletal structure, which is why weight training is encouraged. With that being said, the heart is an important muscle, so aerobic exercise is also essential to one’s routine. Cardio fitness helps your heart pump the blood more efficiently, so it can reduce heart disease and lower high cholesterol and blood pressure.

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Is Cardio Better Before or After Weight Training?

There is some difference of opinion amongst professionals as to whether cardio is better before weight training or after weight training. While there is some sense to both sides of the debate, the most sensible solution seems to be keeping weight training and cardio separate.

If you perform cardio before weight training you may tire yourself too much to have an effective weight training session.

If you perform weight training before cardio then your muscles may be too fatigued to withstand aerobic exercise.

On the days when you have to do both cardio and weight training, perform the exercise that is your main goal first. This will ensure that you have sufficient energy to complete your primary workout.

For example, if your main goal is to increase muscle mass through weight training, do the weight training portion before the cardio routine.

If your goal is to improve your heart, then do the cardio portion before the weight training exercises.

In some gyms, you may also have the option of doing circuit training, which allows you to work aerobic and anaerobic exercises simultaneously. Circuit training is also known as interval training and is usually performed with the use of specific machines.

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What Are the Best Days to Do Weight Training?

Weight training should be performed three days a week with at least one day in-between for downtime. During weight training, your muscles develop small tears that need to be repaired.

The tearing down of muscles and subsequent repairing is the reason you feel sore after your workout. While it is completely normal and okay for this type of microscopic tearing, your muscles do need time to heal before they are strained again.

A minimum of 24 hours is needed for your muscles to repair themselves, so it is best to take a day off after every weight training session.

If you continue to work out your muscles without giving them a rest then your muscles will deteriorate instead of grow.

Since you need to have a day of downtime from weight training, you can use that day to do your cardio exercises. Cardio is a different kind of workout and does not impair the healing of your torn muscles from weight training.

What Are the Best Days to Do Cardio Exercise?

Cardio exercise should be done at least three days a week. You can safely do some type of cardio every day of the week, but if you are also weight training then you are better off alternating days instead of trying to do cardio and weight training on the same day.

Weight training requires one day off for every day on, so those in-between days are great days to do cardio exercises. Even if your muscles are sore from weight training they will not hinder your aerobic routine.

While it is not good to put your muscles through the same strength training exercises two days in a row, it is beneficial to use your muscles to keep them from getting stiff and so cardio is a good way to do this.

When you are doing cardio exercise, be sure you are not straining too much.

During high impact aerobics, your breathing may be more difficult and you won’t be able to have a conversation easily, but you should only hit these challenging peaks during target heart rate training.

For normal cardio routines, you should be able to breathe comfortably and have small conversations.

If you do not feel well at all during aerobic exercise it is important to stop and talk with a professional. It is always best to consult with a physician before beginning any new workout routine.

Even though cardio is an excellent form of exercise, if you are not medically healthy to engage in a strenuous activity such as aerobic exercise then you can do more damage than good.

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