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Maximum Fat Loss and Lean Tissue Gain: Cardio or Weights First?



When doing cardio and weights in the same session, which should be done first for maximum results?


Thank you for your question.

The knowledge of how to properly design your exercise program is absolutely KEY in order to get the results you’re looking for.

I don’t care how old you are, what your body type is, what illnesses run in your family or if “your mother has fat thighs” or “you’ve always had trouble with you’re your weight” or whatever. It’s my philosophy that if you are putting in any kind of time or effort whatsoever by exercising and “trying to eat healthy”, you should be seeing and feeling results! If not, something’s wrong with your program!

In regards to the proper order of cardiovascular exercise in relation to strength training, an ideal schedule would allow for each to be done on completely separate, alternating days with scheduled days off in between. This would allow the greatest potential benefit from each modality. Yet with today’s busy schedules, we often barely have enough time to exercise even at all, so we usually combine strength training and cardio during the same workout. So how do you make the most of your efforts?

The first step is to decide what you need. This means what is your current state of health? What is your level of fitness? Do you have any problem areas and what are your body type goals? The answers to these questions will determine what specific techniques and exercises you use to design your program and this includes the order of cardio or weights in the workout.

For example, perhaps you have significant body fat to lose and/or are a female who fears “bulking up” easily. If that’s the case then your cardiovascular exercise would come after strength training exercises.

There are two primary reasons for this. The first reason is that cardiovascular exercise increases chemicals called glucocorticoids in your body which are basically stress hormones. Glucocorticoids are every bodybuilder’s worst
nightmare because they catabolize muscle tissue, i.e. destroy it, preventing the maintenance and growth of lean muscle tissue. So not only will glucocorotoids prevent you from increasing your overall strength and build your body, but they also set you up to risk losing some of your current size, current strength and decrease your basal metabolic rate! Not good if these are things you are trying to improve!

This is also why overdoing aerobic exercise is not a good thing, yet I see it all the time! It inevitability leads to postural imbalances (from excessive repetitive motion), weight loss plateaus, inability to recover from injuries, general fatigue, sleep problems and disrupted hormonal function; not to mention the scrawny, gaunt body type that we often see in long distance runners. Sadly, these are all hallmarks of an improperly designed program, a body not in balance and are completely avoidable!

The second reason to do cardio after strength is because cardiovascular exercise will cause you to become fatigued. This will make it harder to train with proper technique and at the right intensity. Exercising with poor technique increases the risk of injury, while failing to train at the right intensity results in mediocre results at best.

In conclusion, design your program with your specific needs and goals in mind, build it on foundation based on science and proven success and then combine it with a natural, whole-foods, customized diet and you will get the results you dream of. Then you too can start to feel how good health looks on you!

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