Many people who go to the gym to gain muscle mass often “forget” to do cardio. Still others refuse to practice these aerobic exercises, claiming they are counterproductive to their weight card.
However, these are absolutely wrong choices. If you think that doing cardio is bad for your training routine, we recommend that you read this article. In fact, it will make you understand the crucial importance of this activity, for the achievement of your results.
Cardio before or after weights, that’s the problem
If you want to define biceps or triceps, it is normal to leave aside other exercises, including those that involve the cardiovascular system. It is believed that they reduce the effects of weight lifting and do not help define muscles. However, doing cardio allows you to burn fat and maintain muscle mass which will obviously stand out more .
If you understand this important concept, you are probably asking yourself, “When should cardio be done? Before or after weight training? ”. Well, we could say that there is not a single question to this question, since everything depends on the goals of each one.
Do cardio before weights
If you choose this alternative it is because you want to gain more stamina, burn fat or gain some muscle with weights. For you, body building is just a complement to improve results and be able to count on greater physical strength.
Doing cardio before training is also good when you are used to training outdoors (for example, running in the park) and the weather does not allow you to go out, because it may be raining or too cold. In these cases, you’ll do cardio first and then focus on machines and dumbbells.
How come? The important thing is to keep a high pace but without consuming all the energy then necessary to lift weights. The subsequent anaerobic training, in fact, will serve to tone and enlarge the muscles both on the legs and on the arms (less stressed by cardiovascular exercises).
In short, if your main focus isn’t on muscle definition, you’ll need to do cardio in the beginning. Then you will focus on the weights and, finally, you will conclude with a stretching session.
Doing cardio after weights
The second option is to leave the cardio at the end of the workout (and before stretching). This is reserved for those who want to define or develop muscle mass. Let’s try to explain the scientific and biological reasons behind this training system.
When you train with weights, your muscles store a substance called glycogen, which is responsible for providing more energy and strength. Thanks to glycogen, you can advance and grow, lifting more and more weights. Be careful though: glycogen decreases as you progress through the session. And, since you are looking for muscle growth, you don’t want to run out of “gas” before reaching the finish line. That’s why the cardio part will have to be left at the end.
Doing cardio after your workout will help you remove the accumulated fat but without losing muscle mass. Since the body has hardly any glycogen left, it will be forced to use fat as fuel. This is a perfect strategy for having a better physique.
The ideal would then be to do a 45-minute to 1-hour session of weights and then about 15 to 20 minutes of cardio. Don’t forget the final 5 minutes of stretching. In the first part of the workout you will use glycogen (strength and endurance), in the second part the fat and, in the end, you will avoid aches or pains produced by the accumulation of lactic acid.
Even if you just want to lose weight and firm up your legs, glutes and arms, you should start with weights (albeit 20 to 30 minutes) and then do cardio (40 minutes to 1 hour) . In doing so, you will burn the accumulated fat while toning up your muscles.
Believe it or not, after weight training you will still have enough “strength” for a few minutes of cardio, even at high speed. Best of all, you don’t need to tell your body what kind of fuel to use… It will take what it thinks is needed to meet its needs: fat.