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Many users of the gym wonder if they have to do cardiovascular exercise before or after the weights: it is better afterwards, and we tell you why. There are many people who come to the gym and do not know what to do first, whether cardiovascular exercise or weights. Well, for whatever the goal, either to add muscle size or lose a greater amount of fat, it is best to do cardio after the weights, and we explain why.

Our body has a certain energy, stored in the form of glycogen in our muscles, especially if we have made a good intake of food prior to exercise, a very important point to reach with sufficient food reserves to the gym and not faint during training.

Whether our goal is to gain muscle or lose fat, the choice is clear: using weights we will use all our glycogen and we will have greater strength than if we do it the other way around. That is, if we do cardiovascular exercise before the weights, we will arrive at the most tired machines with less energy, because we will have wasted a large part of our glycogen in cardio. If we do our weight session before, our glycogen will have been emptied to a greater extent, and we will arrive at cardiovascular exercise in an optimal way to burn fat.

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The problem of doing cardio first

The big problem is the previous fatigue that will cause first aerobic exercise. Therefore, in addition, we will not ensure optimal muscle hypertrophy (get our muscles bigger) if we cannot lift the same weight as soon as we reach the gym than after a moderate or moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise.

It will cost us more to move bigger weights, to execute them and we will need more breaks between sets because of the fatigue previous to which we have subjected the body doing first aerobic exercise. Result: we will have previously downloaded the glycogen that we had and that we could have used better in doing the weights first.

Remember that weights are an anaerobic exercise, for which glycogen is required, and we will not burn fats when practicing it. On the contrary, cardio is an aerobic exercise, and with sufficient intensity and duration, if we can get to burn the amount of fat we want. In addition, to optimize the gains of muscle mass, the ideal is to leave our skin first in the irons.

Warming up

The first thing we have to be clear about is that we have to start by warming up. If you want, here is a warm-up and muscle activation routine that you can start with.

But if it is not enough that you do between 5 and 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at a smooth and progressive pace. You are warming up, you are waking up and activating your body for the effort that will come later.

OK, then we already know the first step, 5 or 10 minutes of warm-up. What comes next?

  • The strength exercises.


Strength exercises should always go before cardiovascular exercise and we’ll explain why. When we do strength exercises, they can be weight exercises, with machines or with our own body weight, we are doing anaerobic type exercise. What does that mean? Well, while we are doing them, our body does not need large amounts of oxygen. What we are using is glycogen and the amino acids that we have stored.

What happens if you’ve done cardiovascular exercise first?

If you do cardio first you will have loaded those glycogen reserves and your muscles will not be able to reach their maximum effort because they will already be fatigued. And since they do not have enough fuel, the effect of the exercise will not be the optimum effect. It will be less effective.

That is simply a problem when it comes to reaching our goals, but it also increases the risk of injury. If we are fatigued, we may neglect the technique when doing our strength exercises. And if we neglect the technique the risk of injury increases.

We already know what happens if we do cardio before the strength exercises. But what happens if we change the order and do the strength exercises first?

What happens if you’ve done strength exercises first?

If you change the order, your muscles will arrive fresh to your strength session. What does that mean? Because you can lift more weight, you can do more repetitions and stimulate more to your muscles to grow.

And if you’re looking to lose more fat, it’s also the right order.

If you first do your strength exercises and then do the cardio, you will already have exhausted a part of the glycogen that your muscles had stored. That means that when you do cardio you will burn more fat. Your body is going to be forced to use fat as fuel.

The ideal order

If you want the best of both worlds, more muscle and less fat, the ideal is to do your training routine.

  • 5-10 minutes of warm-up
  • Strength exercises
  • Session of at least 20 minutes of cardio
  • Extra tip to fulminate fat

If you want to curl the curl and fulminate your body fat, instead of doing the traditional cardiovascular exercise, maintained in time and of a lower intensity, do a HIIT routine, high intensity intervals.

Personal trainers have fitness experience and know how to use it. Investing in a personal trainer can lead you to achieve those goals you never thought possible. The road to self-improvement is always hard, but it is certainly better when you go hand in hand with someone who knows. Here at Push the Tempo we can provide you with the services only an expert in mobile personal training in Melbourne can offer.