Tip: Is Cardio Best Before or After Lifting?

A new study is finally giving us the answer. Check this out.

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The Best Time to Do Conditioning Work

Should you do your conditioning, metcon, or cardio work before or after lifting? Many say to do it before because it acts as a warm-up. Others say it interferes with the "money" part of your training: lifting weights.

Who's right? Turns out, the experienced lifters who said to do it AFTER weight training were correct. Completing aerobic endurance exercise before resistance training will negatively impact your ability to perform at your highest potential during the lifting part of your session.

The New Study

A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that when healthy, resistance-trained men performed aerobic endurance exercise before a resistance training session...

  • Fewer reps were completed
  • Average power and velocity of lifts were significantly reduced
  • Ratings of perceived exertion were greater
  • Heart rates were higher when compared to the control group

HIIT First Drops Lifting Performance

One of four different treadmill running protocols were used as part of the aerobic endurance exercise portion:

  1. 60% of the participant's VO2 reserve for 45 minutes
  2. 75% of the participant's VO2 reserve for 20 minutes
  3. 90-100% of the participant's VO2 reserve for intervals of 3 minutes (a 1:1 work to rest ratio) for 5 sets
  4. 75% of the participant's VO2 reserve at a 6-9% uphill incline for 20 minutes

Researchers found that there were differing degrees of the drop in performance measures across the groups, with the high intensity interval group experiencing the greatest reduction.

This is important because stress consolidation, or completing all of your higher intensity efforts in the same time period, is encouraged as it allows for greater recovery from session to session. But don't make the mistake of performing your high intensity conditioning before you lift.

Weights First

If you're going to complete aerobic endurance exercise in the same workout as a weight training, do the resistance training first. End of discussion.


  1. Ratamess, Nicholas A. et al. (October 2016). Acute Resistance Exercise Performance Is Negatively Impacted by Prior Aerobic Endurance Exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Vol. 30 (10).