Cardio Before Or After Weights?

When’s The Best Time For Cardio?

The question that’s been asked for ages, should I do cardio before or after lifting? There are two camps; do it before because it acts as a warm-up and do it after and use your good energy for lifting.

So, who’s right? Turns out those who say to wait and keep cardio for after weight training are right. Completing aerobic exercise before resistance training will negatively impact your ability to perform your best during the lifting part of your workout.

A Study To Help Settle The Score

A study was recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research which reported that when healthy, weight-trained men performed cardio exercise before a lifting they,

  • Were able to complete fewer reps
  • The average power and velocity of lifts was significantly reduced
  • Perceived exertion was greater, and
  • Heart rates were higher

HIIT Had The Biggest (Bad) Impact

One of four different treadmill running protocols were used in the study:

  1. 60% of the participant’s VO2 reserve for 45 minutes
  2. 75% of the participant’s VO2 reserve for 20 minutes
  3. 90-100% of the participant’s VO2 reserve for intervals of 3 minutes (a 1:1 work to rest ratio) for 5 sets
  4. 75% of the participant’s VO2 reserve at a 6-9% uphill incline for 20 minutes

All four protocols  resulted in different degrees of performance reduction among the study group, the HIIT group experienced the greatest reduction.

Weights First

So, if you’re going to lift and complete cardio during the same workout, you’re best off doing the lifting first.


  1. Ratamess, Nicholas A. et al. (October 2016). Acute Resistance Exercise Performance Is Negatively Impacted by Prior Aerobic Endurance Exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Vol. 30 (10).