The best time to do cardio when lifting weights
Not sure when to perform your cardio for the greatest burn? While, generally speaking, there is no best time to perform your cardio workouts, there are a few guidelines that you might want to follow. There are numerous cardio/weight training combinations you can follow. Some of them are much more efficient and recommendable than others. In this post you will find out when is the best time to do cardio when lifting weights.
#1 Avoid cardio before or after leg workout
It probably doesn’t make much sense to do your cardio workout before a hard leg workout. Few bodybuilders can go for a 30 to 45 minute bike ride or jog and then bang out multiple sets with many hundreds of pounds on the squat or leg press. The opposite is also true. Just how intense will your run or cycle be after a grueling leg workout? Finally, a 45 to 60 minute leg workout is highly aerobic anyway so why waste time doing both back to back?
#2 Separate cardio training from weight training (cardio and lifting on separate days)
You could do all your cardio on your days off. This is probably the best type of separation. The advantage to this is that you’re only doing one form of exercise on each day. The disadvantage is that you’re working out seven days a week. Give it a try and see how you feel. If none of the symptoms of overtraining start appearing, by all means keep going.
#3 Cardio and weight training at different times on the same day
For those who have the time, second best option is to do your cardio and weight training at different times on the same day. Many bodybuilders like to do their cardio early in the morning before work or school and then go back later in the day for their weight training.
#4 If you must do cardio and weights on the same training session, lift weights first
What should you do if you can’t separate cardio from weight lifting? The third best solution is to lift weights first and then do your cardio. Heavy weightlifting requires a lot of energy, both muscular and systemic, and if you do cardio first—especially high-intensity cardio—your lifts will suffer. Doing cardio right after weight training, instead of before, allows you to hit the weights harder when your energy levels are highest and leads to three times higher growth hormone levels than when you do cardio first, scientists recently discovered. In other words, weight lifting doesn’t diminish your glycogen stores which can be used during the cardio, depending on the intensity and duration of the session. But for a more effective performance and great results, wait for a couple hours after lifting weights to start on your cardio (if that is possible).
#5 Avoid cardio early in the morning, on an almost empty stomach
Maybe this statement surprised you. However, doing cardio first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach is a big NO. It’s not good for your body and should be avoided at all costs. It can result in muscle loss and loss in energy, which is a body builder’s worst nightmare. Most of the trainers emphasize the importance of pre-workout nutrition for this very purpose, because doing cardio on an empty stomach will decrease your performance significantly as you won’t have the energy reserves to compliment your workout.
#6 Avoid cardio immediately before weight training
This is another thing that should be avoided if you want to gain maximum results from weight training. Cardio before an intense weightlifting can deplete your body’s glycogen reserves which are needed to give the muscles an extra push during the last few minutes of your weight session. If you do cardio before the session, the protein synthesis drops to a low level and causes the protein to break up. This drop in protein synthesis negatively affects the body’s ability to build muscles.
Timing of cardio – closing thoughts
There is no cookie cutter formula for specifying the best time to do cardio and it differs from person to person depending upon their body type. But there are a few guidelines that will help you to understand the best time to do cardio which will produce better results.
Serious lifters worry that cardiovascular training will impede their ability to recover from intense strength training. That all depends on when and how you do your cardio.
The best possible solution is to keep your cardio days and strength days as removed from each other as possible. That way your cardio won’t hinder gains in strength and size.