Cardio or Strength Training: Which Comes First?

By Betty Murray

Weight loss cannot be achieved without a combination of cardio and strength training. Better said, losing inches, is dependent on a combined cardio and strength workout.

Cardio burns more calories in a set amount of time, but weight lost through a strictly cardio workout regimen is contributed to both fat and muscle loss. On the other hand, building muscle may actually make you gain weight, but lose inches.

And an added benefit of strength training: muscle increases fat burn, so for every three pounds of muscle gained, you will burn an extra 120 calories a day — even without exercising. Consider it the “after burn” affect of your strength training workout.

So when it comes to strength training cardio in the gym, which should you do first?

Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland found that the order of your workout routine doesn’t make much of a difference. In their study, they followed a group of young men for 24 weeks of exercise. Half of the men performed cardio first, whereas the other half started their workout off with strength training. At the end of the 24 weeks, both groups showed almost equal increases in strength, endurance and lean body mass. Researchers also concluded that intensity and frequency of exercise do matter and may affect results.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of your personal preference. Do you prefer a strength or cardio workout first? Do you have a difficult time making it through the second half of your workout if you do strength first, or vica versa? If so, try switching things up.

Another alternative: try an integrated workout, such as HIIT (high intensity training) or circuit training that works on strengthening muscles while increasing heart rate at the same time.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Contact Us Today

* All indicated fields must be completed.
Please include non-medical correspondence only.

Our Office Location

Office Hours

Mon - Thu: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Accessibility Toolbar

Scroll to Top