Weights before cardio or cardio before weights?
Chicken before egg or egg before chicken?
The chicken and the egg question is one of the most well-known philosophical dilemmas; the weights and cardio order is one of the most well-known and argued topics in fitness. My friend asked me if I had an opinion on this topic today – and what do you know, I did
Usually the conventional wisdom is to lift weights before cardio. And usually the advice is given in this tone, as though people doing cardio before weights is worthy of physical assault.
The advice I agree with is supported here, although he talks a lot about why cardio before weights is the way to go, I’m going to pick out the quote that I agree with most:
If you do your cardio before you lift, there’s little doubt you will do this part of your program more efficiently, which probably means at higher intensity and with a higher aerobic fitness outcome. Heavy legs and arms after weights are not conducive to a good cardio session. I’ve tried both sequences many times, and running first is my preference even without the technical considerations.
So, the author does not come out and directly say it, but I think it’s understood here that he values an efficient cardio program with as high an intensity as possible. It’s understood that whatever part of your program is done first is the one you are going to have the most energy for. Now, the advice given above is biased inherently towards the benefits of cardio – he’s ignoring the benefits of weights.
That’s why I agree with the end of this article best: ask yourself what is important to you – either that day or your long-term goals – and do that first. Experiment and find out what feels good to you.
Personally I’ve done weights before cardio – normally I expect 100% of myself to perform cardio – and let’s just say I don’t get that 100% if I do weights first. I prefer to have myself give 100% to cardio and whatever’s left to weights. I think that’s pretty typical runner’s advice. But that’s why you came here, right?
On a completely different note, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my weight and fitness dilemmas. I am a bit frustrated that I have not been successful in losing the weight I want to lose. I’ve tried diets, but I don’t stick to them well. Running marathons is not the solution either – I’ve tried that. I think I have a pretty good understanding of the concept of weight loss and nutrition and fitness – but I don’t practice what I know. I’ve actually been considering Weight Watchers.
I’m hesitant to do that though for a few reasons, so I called my mom to get her advice. I explained to her that I think one of my problems is personal accountability – I have no problems lying to myself. I feel like it might be different in a group setting, and in a setting that I pay for (I feel that might be a motivator in staying accountable). But I also don’t want to feel judged (since I am not obese) and I don’t know how I feel about points, keeping track of them, and learning what sounds like might be a PITA. I think I might give it a try for a couple weeks and see what happens.
I have also thought about going to a nutritionist – however, my insurance only covers it if I’m deathly ill. Again, I think I understand the basics of nutrition, I just don’t apply them to my life. There is a disconnect there, and it’s frustrating.
I am open to any and all advice :) I am still trying to get it all sorted out.
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