Cardio vs weights: which one should you do first?

Does it really matter if you lift weights before cardio? The short answer is, it depends on your goals. If you work out to be healthy and fit, science says, you are going to want to reach for the weights before hopping on the treadmill (via the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research). Strength training has many benefits including fat loss, stronger bones, and even disease prevention, making it a wise investment in your health (via Verywell Fit). When you perform cardio before weights, your muscles may be too fatigued to complete your workout (via Daily Burn).

According to Women's Health, if your main goal involves gaining strength or losing weight, weight training before cardio is the way to go. Cardio, post strength training, will burn more fat in the first 15 minutes as opposed to starting with cardio and then lifting. And let's face it, everyone can appreciate a shorter cardio sesh.

What happens when you choose cardio before weights?

While any exercise is good exercise, experts agree when there is a specific goal in mind, it's better to have a plan. If you're intent on enhancing your endurance and improving cardiovascular health, you'll want to start your fitness routine with cardio (via Women's Health). Sports medicine physician Sarah Merrill explains, "doing a heavy weight day before doing cardio may fatigue the muscles, causing you to lose proper form while you are doing cardio and increase the risk of injury." Furthermore, certified personal trainer Jennifer Purdie recommends doing strength training and cardio on different days when training for an event that requires substantial cardio, such as a marathon (via The Healthy).

Doctor Eric Sternlicht tells Shape that workouts should be adjusted according to personal goals and the All About Fitness Podcast host, Pete McCall, agrees. According to Shape, a combination of cardio and strength training is best for overall fitness and while the Mayo Clinic states that research has not yet shown one way is better than another, the bottom line is — any fitness plan is a good one.