Cardio Before Weights, Right? Wrong!

Having been a trainer for the past 10 years, I have heard many different ideas about workout programs.

In an “ideal” work out, all exercise participants would start with a general warm-up (5 minutes on a cardio machine), followed by a dynamic warm-up (10 minutes including movement prep, i.e. jump rope, jumping jacks, agility ladder), then enter the resistance training portion (approximately 25-45 minutes). A 20-35 minute cardio routine, working within your target heart rates, would complete the work out. After a cool-down period for approximately 5-10 minutes, stretching would be implemented.

You may ask yourself, why? Well, the body needs to burn through its sugar source before it gets to the fat. Sugar sources are burned when performing resistance training, while fat will be burned during your cardio session.

When structuring a workout, efficiency is the key:
1)  The  purpose of a “warm up” is to increase core temperature, and stimulate the nervous system.
2) The most intensive training should be done first, while your body is fresh. By placing resistance training first, you signal your muscles to trigger the proteins that use calories while you train. Even when you believe that you are “spent” after 30 minutes of weights, your body is ready to burn fat faster than if you were to attack the sugar first.
3)  Cardio to follow.
4) The “cool down” period is to calm the nervous system, reduce heart rate efficiently, and prevent the blood from pooling.

In conclusion, long-duration cardio should not be performed initially. And guess what, if you only have 30 minutes, go for resistance training instead of cardio. More fat will be burned by pushing and pulling weights than going on a brisk walk. Although the person who is dripping buckets on the stair-master is getting a good workout, you are likely getting a better one by getting sore, and not soaked!!!!

And then there is interval or metabolic training…

Rocco Ferraiolo PTA, NASM-CPT, SPARQ certified


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