There has been an ongoing debate if you should do cardio before weights or after. There are both pros and cons to each choice but one stands out above the other. In this article you will learn exactly how each one affects your body and your fat loss goals.
When you do cardio for an extended period of time before your workout you are using up all of your energy, by depleting you glycogen storages, before you even hit the weights. This means that all the carbohydrate (glycogen) storages that are used to give you energy and power to push through your weight lifting are being used up. This will leave you weak and tired in the gym. When you don’t have that energy to push through your sets and heavy repetitions you won’t be able to add more weight then you did the prior week. When you aren’t adding weight to your workout every other week or so you won’t make any progress in either muscle building or strength.
Even if you are trying to lose weight and that is your primary goal, doing cardio before weights can still hinder your progress. Why you might ask? This is because when you put on muscle you are building your body to be a fat burning machine. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn just sitting still. Cardio before weights can actually lead to muscle atrophy.
When you do cardio after weights some magical things happen. In regards to your glycogen storages this is the perfect time to run. After a heavy weight lifting workout these storages will be close to empty and your body will be looking for a fuel source to give you energy for your cardio routine. This means that your body will be stripping away your fat to use as energy. Normally your muscle would be the first to be converted but since it was right after a workout fat is the first source of energy. Keep in mind that if your cardio lasts more then 40 minutes there is a high chance you will be burning muscle instead of fat, so keep your cardio routine short and intense.
I would recommend having a BCCA (branch chain amino acid) drink right before your cardio routine to stop ANY chance of muscle breakdown. Unlike drinking a protein drink, branch chain amino acids don’t go through the normal digestive process so they won’t be burned for fuel during your cardio routine, they will go straight to your muscles. BCCA can be bought anywhere you buy supplements.
As you can see cardio after weights is very beneficial to burning fat and retaining muscle. Even if you are trying to build muscle and don’t care much about fat loss this will keep you slim while packing on pounds of muscle. As always I would recommend that you do a light job or some light aerobic exercise before you start your weight training.