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Do weights or cardio should be done first?

Monday, September 6, 2021

First, we answered the question of whether weight training or cardio is done under the guidance of the latest research and physiology.

Is cardio or weight training performed frequently in many channels, when the answer is often wrong or the causes cannot be fully understood? I wanted to clarify the question with research.

In this article, weight or cardio first? We will look for answers to the question, then touch on research and finally we will list the benefits of doing weight and then cardio.

About cardio, weight training

Before I explain which of the weight and cardio exercises should be done first, I would like to give you some information to understand and make sense of the mechanism.

During cardio training, the blood oxygen level decreases first. This occurs due to the oxygen consumed by your muscles working together with exercise. Then your heart rate increases to pump blood to your muscles that are running faster.

In the cell, it is seen that the structures producing energy together with cardio work faster. The cell, which receives more oxygen with more incoming blood, first begins to empty the existing glucose molecules and then the glycogen stores.

Similarly, during exercise, the heart rate and breathing rate increase. The point that is different from cardio exercise is the effects of explosive non-cardio exercises.

The most important of these effects is damage to the working muscles and the use of glycogen stores in the working area and its vicinity, not all muscles. (Of course, liver glycogen stores will be used for excessive energy needs.)

Do weight and then cardio!

After talking very briefly and roughly about weight and cardio exercises, let’s move on to the answer. Often the weight-first cardio workout is more useful!

Low PH means worse performance

Cardio exercises are generally exercises in which energy produced by using oxygen is consumed and they create excessive need for oxygen. You can verify this by remembering you to be out of breath during challenging cardio exercises.

In this case, the oxygen demand will not be met after a point, and it will be passed to anaerobic breathing that does not require oxygen and produces less energy.

As a result, your blood’s PH level will decrease due to the lactic acid produced by anaerobic respiration and energy production pathways will deteriorate, your fatigue will increase and your strength will decrease.

Even if the need for oxygen increases in weight exercises, this situation, which is not as challenging as cardio exercises, will cause you to produce much less lactic acid, thus decreasing PH much less.

For this reason, doing cardio before exercise will decrease your weight training performance and make you feel more tired and weak.

Cardio = Cortisol, Cortisol = Destruction

Prolonged cardio sessions decrease PH, increased heart rate and stress environment caused by consumed glycogen stores cause cortisol release.

The cortisol-induced destruction environment, such as the slowdown of glucose burning, creates a few of the situations that we absolutely do not want during the exercise period.

Cortisol, which occurs in the cardio session before the exercise, will decrease the performance of your post-cardio exercise and decrease the efficiency you will receive.

In addition, the growth hormone that is expected to increase due to exercise and cortisol, which prevents the increase of testosterone levels, becomes your biggest enemy in this respect.

In the cardio performed after exercise, the already increased growth hormone and testosterone will not be affected by the level of cortisol and will mask the destruction caused by cortisol.

You provide more fat burning

I will try to explain this with a few small accounts. Your muscles often use / prefer pure glucose in explosive exercises. In the cardio exercises, the continuous but slow energy need is met from the fats in the situation.

If you do cardio before weight training, you will consume glucose and glycogen stores and leave less glucose / glycogen for your muscles to use. Your muscles, which are depleted of glucose / glycogen stores and can burn some fat, will not be able to provide full performance since they are often not strong enough.

Your muscles need instant energy flow in explosive exercises. Since instant energy production from fats is difficult, it will be quite inefficient to work with carbohydrate tanks empty during weight training.

If you do cardio after weight training, decreasing / ending glucose / glycogen stores will not be used during cardio and energy will be produced from fats. This will allow you to burn more fat.

There’s more!

Cardio after exercise causes more afterburn effects.

It has been shown that a protein that works on mTOR cell growth and protein synthesis works more effectively with cardio after exercise.

Cardio before exercise makes you tired and careless. Research shows that injuries in amateur athletes are most often caused by tired and careless exercise


When is cardio performed? For the answer to the question, review the items below.

If possible, practice weight and cardio exercises in two separate sessions.

If it is not possible to exercise weight and cardio in separate sessions, first perform weight exercises.

Do not prefer cardio workouts alone to lose weight.

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