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Cardio Training: Before Or After Weights?

Don't Skip Cardio Day! It's Good For Burning Fat And It Is Very Important For Your Health

Whether you're someone who wants to lose extra pounds or a person who wants to get leaner while keeping muscle mass, cardio must be in your workout routine. It increases your endurance, helps you burn fat and prevent heart diseases. The question remains: when to do cardio? Before or after workout?

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Athlete sprinting

Some people prefer to do cardio in the the morning, others just after work. There is no "best time" to do your cardio training. Whenever you feel fully energized, go for it. However, some of you like to combine cardio trainings before or after weightlifting.
Gymaholic provides you the right information in order to get the full potential of your cardio sessions.

Does Cardio On An Empty Stomach Burn More Fat?

You can often hear people say that doing cardio on an empty stomach will help you burn more fat. This is not completely true.
In fact, when you're doing a cardio exercise with food in your stomach, fat loss doesn't occur during the session but hours AFTER. On the other hand, when you do your cardio session with an empty stomach, you will burn more fat WHILE exercising.

So, Should I Do Cardio On An Empty Stomach?

It really depends on the length of the run. If it's a short run (30 mins or less) go for it. Research has shown that people who do cardio with an empty stomach will burn more fat while exercising but less fat during the rest of the day. If you don't have enough glycogen (energy), your mind and your body will feel tired. The lack of glycogen will lead your body to find energy somewhere else; both your fat and eventually your muscles (catabolism). Indeed, a long cardio session (30 mins and more) with an empty stomach might have an impact on your muscle mass.
If you're doing a long run, get a little snack before. It will help you avoid the catabolic state and make you get better results.

What Is A Catabolic State?

A catabolic state is when your body runs out of energy and use muscle tissue as a source of energy (muscle breakdown). Every person who practice sport should definitely avoid entering into this state. You can prevent catabolism by consuming the right nutrients before and after your workout (cardio or anything else).
This is why you should always eat something before a cardio session, even a banana could save your muscles.

Woman running treadmill

Cardio Before Weightlifting

Doing cardio before weights will consume most of your glycogen stores (muscle energy). So if you're doing cardio just before weightlifting, you won't be able to perform your INTENSE workout properly and you will definitely enter into a catabolic state.
I emphasize the phrase INTENSE weightlifting workout; because if you're doing a low intensity workout (20-30 min with light weights), you won't enter into the catabolic state. It all depends on the intensity of your cardio, workout and how much food you consumed. Of course you can use cardio as 10-15 mins warm up.
But let's say you just run 45 mins to 1:20 hours, don't even think to do weightlifting after that.

Cardio After Weightlifting

Weightlifting doesn't consume all your glycogen stores as bad as cardio. If you're training's intensity is moderate, you can have a run after it. Once again, it all depends on your workout intensity.
If you're training heavy for 1 hour to 1:30 hours or simply doing a leg day, running after it would not be a good idea.

Cardio: Before Or After WeightLifting

"After what I've just read, it seems that I can't do cardio at all." Of course you can, but you will have to put some hours in between; so you can get some rest and refuel your glycogen stores.
But if you want to run just after your workouts, try to place your cardio session just after a light weight training.

Cardio Frequency And Duration

We can define the cardio frequency and duration depending on your body type and your fitness goals. Gymaholic will provide you two simple types of frequency and duration for you cardio sessions. However, these are example and should be modified depending on your goals:

  • Get Leaner But Don't Want To Lose Muscle Mass: You will get benefits while doing 1 to 3 cardio sessions per week with a duration of 30-45 mins at a moderate speed (60% of your max heart rate).
  • Get Fit And Stay Strong: You can reach your goals while running 4-5 times a week for 45-70mins at a moderate/high-speed (60 to 80% of your max heart rate).

In Conclusion

This article Cardio: before or after weights is giving you tips and advice in order to help you reach your fitness goals. But we have all different genetics, unalike bodies and divergent fitness goals.
At the end of the day, it's YOUR fitness journey, so you will have to learn a few things by practicing.

  • Cardio is very important, even for you bodybuilders.
  • Do cardio whenever you feel fully energized.
  • Forget the cardio on an empty stomach if you're doing a long run (30 mins and more).
  • Always eat something before exercising (cardio, lifting ...), a light snack does the trick.
  • If you want to run before/after weightlifting, get some rest and refuel your body.
  • Run after leg day? Don't even think about it!
  • Cardio is like lifting, you need to have a plan. Run according to your goals.

Don't skip cardio day!

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