When it comes to losing weight and building muscle, there is a great deal of discussion as to whether strength training should be done before or after a cardio session. Here are seven reasons to consider performing cardio after weights.
#1. Greater Energy
After lifting weights, you will still have some of your glycogen stores left, and will therefore have enough energy to perform a rigorous cardio workout. When performing cardio first, you will use up those stores, making it more difficult to lift the heavy weights required to build muscle.
#2. Better Hormonal Balance
Cardio causes cortisol to be released in the body, but results in testosterone levels remaining about the same. This shift in hormones can make it more difficult for you to gain muscle mass, because high cortisol levels accompanied by low testosterone levels will actually break down muscle.
#3. Burns More Calories
Studies show that performing cardio after weights increases the “afterburn effect”, which involves how effectively your body burns calories. As such, you can expect to burn significantly more calories for up to 48 hours following your workout. Some trainers believe this will make it possible for you to lose more fat over the long run.
#4. Opens Metabolic Pathways
The human body contains mTOR motor pathways, which are responsible for telling your muscles to grow. Studies by the Research Center for Genetic Medicine claim that endurance exercise may inhibit mTOR function, making it more difficult to build muscles over the long run. This is especially problematic if your body type is an endomorph or ectomorph, which already makes it challenging for you to build muscle.
#5. Improves pH Levels
Cardiovascular exercise causes energy to be broken down into lactic acid, which in turn makes the blood more acidic. Acidic blood increases your odds of muscle fatigue and cramping, and can therefore interfere with strength training. You may also find it more difficult to contract the muscles, in which case your workout would become less effective.
#6. Perceived Exertion Level is Lower
Even when performing exactly the same workout, you will feel as though your routine is easier whenever you perform cardio after weights. As such, you will not be tempted to lower the intensity of your workout, and will still have the mental energy you need to finish your day with.
#7. Reduces your Risk of Injury
Performing cardio after weights reduces the risk of injury due to fatigue. Few people have the energy to lift heavy weights or perform strenuous exercises such as squats when their legs are already tired from running or biking. If you’re already exhausted, you may be tempted to compromise your form, and could suffer an injury because of it.
As you can see, cardio after weights makes sense for a number of reasons. For best results, space your workouts at least two hours apart, and take that time in between to rehydrate your body and fuel your muscles.