You’re doing all the right things when it comes to your health: eating right, staying away from bad foods and incorporating cardio workouts every week. Cardio exercise has several health benefits, such as burning fat, boosting metabolism and strengthening your heart, but it’s important to also add in strengthening workouts such as ab and weight exercises. If you plan on incorporating ab and weight exercises the same day as your cardio session, it’s important to know which one to start with to enhance your overall workout.
Knowing your personal goals can make the decision easier on whether to incorporate your ab and weight exercises before or after your cardio workout. If you are more interested in toning and building muscle, then starting with your ab and weight workout beforehand might be the better choice. If your goal is to build endurance and to get in better cardiovascular health, your priorities might lie with your cardio workouts. Choose to do them before ab and weightlifting exercises.
Strength Training First
There are many opinions on whether to strength train before or after your cardio workout. Although it depends on your overall goals, consider the role of lactic acid during exercise. Lactic acid is produced in your blood when you are lacking oxygen. When you engage in a cardio workout, your oxygen supplies become depleted and your body produces lactic acid in order to deliver energy to the muscles to sustain the workout. Lifting weights is more anaerobic, which means no oxygen is used. You don’t produce the lactic acid during weightlifting because your body isn’t using up its oxygen supplies. What energy you use up during your weight training workout is the stored lactic acid in your muscles. Therefore, if you weight train before cardio you’re relying on the stored lactic acid for energy. If you do it after your cardio there are no lactic acid stores available and your body stops producing the lactic acid in your bloodstream because weight training is anaerobic. You basically deplete your body of energy to get an optimal weightlifting workout.
Cardio Workout First
If you are more concerned with improving your cardiovascular endurance, start with a cardio session. Exercising depletes your glycogen stores in the muscles, according to MayoClinic.com. The glycogen that is stored in your muscles provides you additional energy for long endurance activities, such as cardio workouts, and short-duration activities, such as ab and weight exercises. If you deplete these stores you may find that you are too tired to get in an optimal cardio session.
Considering Circuit Training
If you can’t decide between your goals and want to build endurance and get stronger, consider circuit training. Circuit training consists of cardio and strength exercises and you alternate between both types of exercises throughout the circuit workout. The goal of circuit training is to perform several exercises including cardio, strength training and abdominal exercises, but do so with an elevated heart rate. Circuit-training sessions can consist of 20 minutes of high-intensity strength exercises that keep the heart rate elevated for a cardio workout as well, according to Military.com. A sample circuit includes the following exercises in this exact order: pushups for one minute, squats for one minute, pullups for one minute, biking or jogging for three minutes, military press for one minute, lunges for one minute each leg, biceps curls for one minute, biking or jogging for three minutes, triceps extensions for one minute, leg extensions for one minute, leg curls for one minute, situps for two minutes, crunches for two minutes and stretching for five minutes.
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.