In the quest to drop a few pounds before an (eek!) black tie event in a couple weeks I've been revisiting one of my favorite fitness "myths" in my own training: if I am doing weight training and cardiovascular training in the same day, I do the weight training first.
But does it work?
The Google search for "cardio or weights first lose weight" yields over 3 million hits!
The cardio-first camp claims that burning sugar first is the better approach if you are trying to get lean. On the weights-first side, the argument runs that your body won't burn fat during weight-training (because your heart rate doesn't get high enough) so that if you burn through the sugar first with your resistance training, the only fuel left during cardio will be your (presumably) unwanted fat.
I experimented with this in my pre-lawyer, pre-kid days (i.e., when I had more time to work out than I knew what to do with). I found that, for me, it seems effective when I'm trying to lose weight to do my scheduled weight training first, even where the cardio is a relatively short add-on.
I'm absolutely not an expert on the subject, but here are some of my thoughts on why (other than the what-fuel-are-you-burning discussions in the above articles, which I will leave in the capable hands of trainers and doctors):
- Doing resistance training first helps me warm up - both physically and mentally - so that I'm primed and ready when it comes time to kick it up with some cardio. (This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I'm a morning exerciser.)
- Doing cardio first exhausts me and I don't feel like I perform my weight training with the mindfulness and precision it deserves. I am not a heavy-lifting gal, but if I were, I think there would be a safety issue here in addition to the effectiveness issue.
One thing I think we can all agree on: Just doing it is better than loafing on your couch!
So I want to do an experiment! Below is a great, 12-ish minute cardio segment from the Blogilates YouTube page. If you have the time and inclination, and if you're trying to lean out, tack it on before or after your resistance training (be that weights or Pilates) over the next few weeks and let me know if it works for you.