Should I do aerobic exercise before or after resistance training?

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT

Depends on your goal, but when it comes to fat loss, it hardly makes a difference. Most weightlifters prefer after because they like to have full energy before the resistance workout. For example: ever try lifting weights after a long hard run? Very challenging to have a good session. If your goal is training for a marathon or some other endurance activity, you must train for the activity first.

It depends on what you are training for. What is the goal of your training session? Are you training for a sport?  Or are you just training to stay fit?

If you are training for a sport, such as track and field, then you may want to do the aerobic training first so that you can give that you all. If you are training for bodybuilding then you may want to do resistance training first. Whatever you are training for do what correlates to that sport first.

If you are training for fitness then it really doesn't matter which order you do them in just so long as you do them both. For the purposes of saving time I like to combine the two into one workout.  I call it cardio resistive training. This is both efficient and effective.

For general resistance and fitness training, a proper total body warm up of aerobic exercise for a period of 5 to 10 minutes before resistance or any exercising is important to prevent injuries and get the body prepare for the workout. A total body warm up can increase your body elasticity by 20% and get your synovial fluid going in the joints. A good indication to know when you're properly warmed up and ready for resistance training is when you notice sweat/moisture appearing on your forehead, back of hands, or under the nose. Upon completing your resistance training, you can finish with a longer aerobic exercise program of 20 to 60 minutes.

If you are training for general fitness you could do aerobic exercise first and use it as a warm up as well, since you need to warm up anyway. You can also split aerobic exercise, doing some before and  after resistance training, depends on how you like to mix it, doing some cardio between resistance training exercises is possible too. You can manipulate the order, and concentrate on one or the other depending on what your goal is.

Now, if you are training for an specific sport or competition the rules could change and there would be an specific order you would need to follow in order to improve performance, avoid overtraining and prevent injuries.

There are loads of opinions on what works best here. Some say the 2 should be separated, while others insist that is impossible. In my own experience and experience with my clients, I have found that resistance training first can be a key to increasing strength. By doing my weights first, my muscles are fresher and ready to take on the challenge, plus I can focus more on my form. When it comes to resistance training, form is KEY. Then I can increase the already fired up calorie burn (metabolism) by finishing with my cardio.

On the days that I have truly challenging cardio (HIITS, bleacher runs. etc.) then I take the day off from lifting. This is do to the fact that these forms of cardio require more endurance and focus.
When you do aerobics before resistance training, you are burning energy, which affects your weight lifting performance. When it comes time for your lifting session, you will not be able to lift as heavy of weights. I prefer to do cardio after my resistnace training but honestly, whatever works best for the individual is most important.
Many people wonder if you they should do cardio before or after.  Well the simple answer is it is a matter of preference.  Now in my years of training people have done it three ways.  One do cardio before you workout, second after your workout or just split them up.  The real difference in them is really energy level.  Some people feel tired during their workout if they do it before and feel tired during their cardio if they do weight before.  So bottom line do what works best for you because you will still get great results no matter what.
Fabio Comana

It does depend upon your goals and priorities. Doing cardio before weight training may fatigue muscles (especially lower body) that could compromise the quality of your weight training and possibly increase your risk of injury. Lifting weights before cardio will elevate your heart rate (HR) higher than normal. Therefore if you measure your cardio intensity using HR, then expect it to be higher than normal.  

The choice is up to you. From a psychological perspective it may make sense to complete whichever task you enjoy the least. For example, if you do not like to lift weights, perform this activity first. This will help ensure you will not skip strength training exercises once your mind and body is already fatigued from a bout of cardio exercise.

From a physiological perspective, perform whichever activity is the most difficult. For example, if you’re planning to lift weights with high-intensity, these exercises should be performed first. This will help ensure you have the energy to complete these exercises with proper form.




It is entirely up to you and dependent on your goal. If you resistance train first you use up your muscles glycogen stores and your cardio turns into more of an oxidative or fat burning. By completing cardio first you can warm up your body and increase blood flow which may help you get a better resistance session. The big factor to be careful of is that if you must do both on the same day, don't overdo one or the other and tire yourself out.

I recommend doing resistance training before aerobics. If you do aerobics first, you run the risk of being a bit tired and that can compromise your form and safety with resistance training. One is still capable of doing aerobics after resistance training with little or no difference in performance.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.