Combining cardio with resistance training is believed to offer numerous health and fitness benefits, but does the order of your workout play a role?
Since prolonged aerobic performance can potentially “weaken” exercise muscles, thereby impairing ability to lift weights in a resistance session, researchers theorized putting cardio before weight lifting would result in less favorable anabolic effects.
Participants were between 18 and 40 years old and performed either supervised cardio immediately followed by strength training, or vice versa, 2-3 times per week for 24 weeks.
Researchers wanted to determine if immediate anabolic effects of one single exercise session would differ between training orders and if such differences would be reflected after six months of training.
While the study did find that cardio interfered with strength training performance after a single training session, the same recovery time differences weren’t observed after the 24-week period. Rather, both groups increased physical prowess and muscle size at about the same rate.
However, researchers advise caution “when performing high amounts and/or a high frequency of training,” noting that their findings relate to two to three 90-120 minute sessions per week. Whether this concept applies to athletes who engage in frequent, intense training sessions and others who regularly work out remains unknown at this time.