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Should You Do Cardio or Strength First?

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Q: Should I do cardio before or after strength training to burn more fat?

A: This question has been debated for a very long time, with studies on both ends of the spectrum supporting their claims. To help clarify the "burning fat question" (pun definitely intended), ask yourself two questions:

1. What is your goal? If you are training for a 5K or endurance race, or your main objective is to slim down, implementing a cardio session in the beginning of your session is probably be your best bet. However, if you are seeking to create muscle definition, save your cardio work for the end.

2. How much do you lift? Selecting cardio or weights first should depend on your weight workout. If you are focusing on heavy or complex lifts using free weights, I recommend performing cardio last. If you're depleted of energy from your cardio session, you will be sacrificing form, control, balance, and safety when you switch to your weights—all of which can result in an injury.

RELATED: 5 Quick Exercises for Fat-Blasting Cardio

When a client enters my program, we will mix it up and do cardio last one day and first another day later in the week, followed by a strength routine using bodyweight or machine-based exercises instead of using free weights to keep the client safe while still seeking to gain the most of the muscle.

I recommend mixing it up and switching back and forth like this to avoid hitting a plateau and getting bored with your workouts. You can even add a set of jumping jacks or burpees in between strength exercises and combine the best of both worlds. Variability and constant change are key to increasing performance, boosting metabolism, and reaching your goals. And don't forget the most important thing of all: Have fun and make healthy food choices.


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