What Most People Do

Most of us think to jump into cardio first thing, get a good sweat, burn some calories, then we are ready to hit the weights.  But is this the best idea to lose weight or even gain muscle?  Well, like most things, it’s not as simple as a YES or NO answer.  There are a couple key factors that play a role in whether cardio at the beginning or end is best for you.


What Factors Make the Difference

#1 Body types. There are 3 body types, ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph; depending on your body type will determine when to add cardio into your workout.

#2 Muscle Gain.  If you are building muscle mass, you want to conserve as much glycogen, muscle fuel, as you can for the resistant training to allow yourself to push through each set.

#3 Weight Loss.  If you are on a weight loss program, you would want to emphasize increasing your heart rate more then the amount of weight you can push.


What Does The Science Tell Us

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning 2008 tells us that integrating cardio and resistant training through out the workout showed much higher levels of both fat burning and muscle increase.  An example would be performing 3 sets x 12 reps of chest press then follow that with 60 seconds of intense cardio on the treadmill.  High Intense Interval Training is the modality of workout I am referring to, also know as H.I.I.T.

Fluctuating the heart rate up and down throughout the duration of the workout puts the body into ‘FAT BURNING’ mode; which is what we want to accomplish.  Intense cardio for a long duration of time will release cortisol, the stress hormone, which will prevent the body from burning fat; which we want to avoid.


Bottom Line

The good news is we don’t have to spend hours on the cardio machine to accomplish our goals.  Integrating the cardio throughout the workout, thus fluctuating the heart rate, will create a more efficient way of burning fat and increase muscle.  I want to add, I still believe that body type plays a role.  If you are an endomorph, looking to lose weight, then you are a prime candidate for high interval training.  If you are an ectomorph, then keep your cardio to the end.  A mesomorph can play it both ways, so listen to your body and see which method brings the best results.

Finally, with all this said, the #1 take away is JUST BE CONSISTENT with your exercises.  Cardio before, after, or during won’t make much of a difference if you exercise every once in a while.


Be healthy, my friends!

-Scott Elliott

Kool Body Personal Training