Have you ever considered how important the timing of your cardio is? Some people are completely obsessed with the topic while others dismiss it as completely unimportant. The question today is does it matter at all?
Cardio Before Weight Training
Doing cardio before you train with weights is something that the uninformed gym member will think is perfectly acceptable. The consider it a warm up for their weight training session. The problem is the science behind the idea just doesn’t work. In order to understand this, you need to understand the two fuels that your body uses.
Glycogen is the energy source utilized during a weight training session. Your muscles eat this stuff up. It is made primarily by the muscles and the liver. Think of it like rocket fuel—it burns easily. This is why your body uses it during weight training. It provides a fast burning fuel source for the body when it needs it most.
Fat is the other energy source utilized by your body. This is an energy source that is generally used during cardio exercise. It takes longer to burn and is slower to release than glycogen is.
Glycogen and fat are both used during cardio training. However, it is glycogen that goes first. Think about what you just learned:
- The body has two sources of fuel: glycogen and fat
- Glycogen is fast burning and gets burned first
- Glycogen is necessary for fuel during weight training
Thus, why would you do your cardio prior to your weight training if it is simply going to deplete your glycogen stores? In response, your body will break down muscle tissue to turn it into glycogen during your weight training session to give your body energy. Obviously this is a very bad situation and it is why you should NEVER do your cardio prior to the weight training.
Cardio After Weight Training
Another option is to do your cardio immediately after your weight training session. There are some who say it is better to give at least 8 hours between weight training and cardio training, but I have found this to be the most effective option so far. There is something about doing cardio immediately after your weight training session that has your body primed to give up fat. I inserted this into my Mission Grand Prix preparation back in December 2011 and saw amazing results. What I did was put 10 minutes of HIIT cardio at the end of my weight training sessions and I saw my fat loss skyrocket during the first 2 weeks.
At this point I have my cardio scheduled after my weight training session on each day except leg day. On leg day I do not do any cardio training at all. It helps me to recover from the intensity of the leg sessions. Doing my cardio this way insures that it gets done. I don’t need 2 trips to the gym to get it done.
Cardio Training On An Off Day
Yet another option is to do cardio training on an off day. This is probably a smart idea for most people, but it requires additional time in the gym. For some people, that reason alone is enough to avoid this option.
Currently, my Mission Grand Prix preparation has me doing LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio on off days. This also seems to be aiding with fat loss. As my good friend Carlos DeJesus always says, it is all about the Experiment of One!
So tell us how you handle your cardio training. When do you get your cardio done?