You must have already asked yourself what is the optimal time for doing aerobic activity, right? Well, there’s not really a right or wrong answer, it is more a case of finding the most efficient way of achieving your goals.
Let’s understand this better by considering four different scenarios:
- Aerobics before weight training
If your aim is to get in shape and generally improve your fitness, the best way to get started is with aerobic exercises like cycling, running, swimming or getting on a cross-trainer. This kind of activity will help your heart, lungs and cardio-respiratory system to distribute oxygen around your body, improving your stamina. As the main aim is not to increase muscle strength or size, you won’t need to worry about saving energy for muscle hypertrophy. In addition, your metabolism will remain accelerated for longer and you’ll keep burning calories whilst you train. One other thing: running after weight lifting is much tougher and increases the risk of injuries.
- Aerobics with weights
In this case, try to opt for circuit training, which combines weight training and cardio activities, without rest periods. This kind of work out burns up to 30% more calories than when the two types of activities are done separately. In circuit training, the heart beats faster the whole time, so more calories are burnt. It’s a good option for those who don’t have much time to go to the gym.
- Aerobics after weight training
Opting for cardio exercises after weight training is good for muscle definition. The advantage is that by starting with weights you are able to lift heavier loads, given that your body is rested, which is more conducive to muscle hypertrophy. Whenever we start any kind of physical activity our body uses a reserve of energy called muscle glycogen. This reserve is used by the muscles during intense activities before your body starts to burn fat. Weight lifting is a high-intensity activity and quickly uses up your glycogen, therefore making it easier to burn fat. Be careful though, you will need to keep the cardio short – about 30 minutes at the most. Any more than that and you risk losing lean body mass and increase the risk of injury.
- Aerobics and weight training on alternative days
Generally, this kind of training routine is used by people who practice a specific aerobic sport, such as running, cycling or swimming. This type of work-out is usually one of long duration and high intensity and tends to take place away from the gym, like in local parks. Weight training is done on a separate day as a complementary activity with the aim of improving overall performance and strengthening joints.
As we have seen, it doesn’t matter a great deal if you do your cardio before, during or after your weight training. What is important, however, is to always remember to have a quick warm up before beginning any kind of physical activity. Warming up will improve your blood circulation, better enabling your body to transport nutrients to the muscles, as well as reducing the risk of injury.
Have a goal, go after it and never give up!