We get asked this all the time and our answer is the same: it depends on your goals, and here’s why:
If you are a regular gym goer with the aim of general keep fit, staying strong and beating the bulge then it is probable like 99% of other gym goers you will want to incorporate both lifting and cardio training into your workouts.
If you do a cardio session whether it’s a steady state or interval type session you will tire; you will have used up some energy stores. If in the same session you then want to perform some lifts, you may find your strength is depleted and/or your form is poor.
Alternatively, if you started your workout with a weight lifting session your muscles will be exhausted, having been trained to or close to failure and the chances of you pushing out any good cardio training next is unlikely.
So, the overriding answer to the conundrum depends on what you value as important in your own training and you may find it most beneficial to alternate sessions with one starting with cardio and the other weight lifting. In terms of science, recent studies have shown that the most cardio gain is to be had if placed before the strength training component of a mixed workout.
The same does not apply for those with less general goals: If you want to bulk then definitely put the strength before the cardio and perhaps consider interval/HIIT training over steady state cardio when it comes to it (but don’t forget it!). For long distance runners the cardio sessions need to take precedence however it is a good idea to have a couple of dedicated strength sessions pw to add to your long distance running as it is likely you will have run out of time or energy to add anything useful after a session.
Dont worry, the weights you will be lifting probably wont make you TOO muscular unless you are lifting them every day for years and years. We may ask you to include them in your training as part of a metabolic conditioning program to increase the rate at which you burn FAT as well as:
- Increased bone density
- Increased lean muscle mass
- Injury prevention
- Enhanced performance in activity generally
- Lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease
- Boosts confidence
- Improves balance
- Fights depression
Take a look at these 3 photos:
Model 1 will live at the gym, be taking some kind form of steroid drug, will eat huge amounts of food daily and consume various supplements. She will endure enormous mood swings, possess a rare set of genetics and probably exhibit some typically male traits ranging from a large adams apple and excessive hair growth through to an out of control libido. She will be a competitive bodybuilder training on a periodised program and have spent years and years sculpting the physique you see today. You will not wake up one day having done some strength work and look anything like this!
Model 2 Won’t be on steroids, yet will also have to be military with her training and nutrition. She will also be on a periodised training program and will have also had to make huge sacrifices in her life to gain the amount of muscle she has whilst stripping her frame of fat. Women have only 10% of the testosterone (muscle building hormone) that men do, and so to even build this physique would have taken years of dedication and understanding of her body’s metabolism, adaptation rate, water holding fluxuations not to mention monumental mental strength. You will not wake up one day having done some strength work and look anything like this!
Model 3 Depicts most of the rest of us. It is very difficult to build a well muscled physique. Men have much more testosterone than women and often still find it difficult to build a well muscled physique. Ask yourself this: How many of your male friends want to bulk up and pack on some muscle? The answer would be higher than you may imagine. In summary, you don’t need to worry about bulking up through strength training, in order to do this you would have to embark on a hardcore program of muscle gain, revamping your entire nutritional vocabulary, and employ a set of lifestyle rules so strict a sergeant major would whimper!