Is It Wise to Do Cardio and Weight Training On The Same Day?
September 4th 2019
The idea of integrating cardiovascular training with a combination of strength building exercises has been a highly discussed topic by fitness experts, athletes, and exercise physiologists for decades. With the recent increase in exercise trends and calorie shredding diets, everyone is cautious about their bodies’ appearance and its physical attributes. Maybe you're trying to fit into that new suit or dress to impress your coworkers. Or maybe you are looking to shed a few pounds for the next trip to the beach. Whatever your motive may be, it can be difficult to decide what to include in your exercise routine and diet, and the word of mouth myths and misconceptions that spread from person to person can lead to misinformation about your own workout routine.
For instance, it is commonly debated whether it is best to start with cardiovascular training like on the treadmill or the stair master first, or if it is more beneficial to begin by the dumbbell rack to pump some heavy-hitting iron. If you have asked yourself this question many times before, look no further! Luckily, this question is easily answered.
Should you do cardio and weights on the same day?
The short answer is, it depends. It truly depends on the goals of your training plan that will determine what you should focus on, and if the two training regimens are required to work synergistically with each other. Especially if one of your goals is to optimize your time, then you might consider performing both cardio and weightlifting on the same day.
But how does that affect your body? Are you more likely to be sore and tired after a long day? These are all important factors to take into consideration when designing or revamping your workout routine.
Some myths debunked about doing cardio and weights on the same day
In the fitness world, there are plenty of myths and misconceptions about cardiovascular training and weight/strength training. A very common misconception is that cardiovascular training burns fat. This is not true because cardiovascular exercises burn calories, so it is much more important to keep track of the daily caloric intake of the body and induce a caloric deficit if one is trying to lose weight or decrease their body fat percentage.
If you were to run a distance similar to a half marathon every day but ate food items that are absolute garbage, you’re not going to see a big difference in your physical appearance. You can’t outrun a bad diet. Furthermore, if you were to utilize only cardiovascular training, it only would increase the risk of slowing down your metabolism, decrease your bone density, because then it would start to burn into your muscle tissue.
Another frequently heard myth among weight lifters and athletes is that if you are trying to lose weight, is that you should avoid doing any strength training involving heavy weights as your physical appearance could look boxy and bulky. This is statement is completely false as “proper weight training will increase the strength and endurance of your muscles, which will improve your cardiovascular efficiency and burn more calories” (Johnson Fitness 2019). In order to have your body perform at its best, it is crucial to incorporate a training plan that includes both cardiovascular exercises and weight training. These two systems work much better together synergistically, rather than competing against each other.
The Physiological Processes That Occur During Cardiovascular Training and Weight Training
The processes that happen in the body during exercise are what helps the body performs to its maximum potential. If you gain a strong foundation of what happens in your body when you work out you will be more motivated and be able to interpret and problems that happen to your body during exercise more clearly. Cardiorespiratory fitness can be defined as 30 minutes or more of an aerobic exercise that increases oxygen consumption and achieves a heart rate between 120-140 beats per minute. This can include anything such as running, walking, cycling, or even swimming.
Weight training is commonly found to be an anaerobic exercise which means that there is no oxygen involved. The most common types of anaerobic activities are sprinting or lifting weights. The difference between aerobic exercises and anaerobic exercises describes the mechanisms of oxygen uptake and the sum of energy expended during aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Aerobic respiration requires the presence of oxygen to react with glucose, which undergoes glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, and the electron transport chain in order to yield a high amount of 36-38 ATP for the body to use. On the other hand, anaerobic respiration does not require oxygen and usually occurs during the first one to two minutes of strenuous exercise. By utilizing the molecule glucose, it undergoes glycolysis and fermentation, but only produces a total of 2 ATP, which makes it very inefficient for energy expenditure. From all of this, there are numerous benefits, which will be explained in these next paragraphs.
Benefits of Cardiovascular Fitness
There are numerous benefits regarding cardiovascular training that attract many lifters and especially for people looking to lose weight. The famous physician Hippocrates had even quoted that “in order to remain healthy, the entire day should be devoted exclusively to ways and means of increasing one’s strength and staying healthy, and the best way to do so is through physical exercise” (National Institute of Health 2012).
This famous saying still holds its weight today. Why should you not do some cardio and weights on the same day? Living a less sedentary lifestyle has known to decrease cardiovascular disease risk factors such as obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, heart attacks, and leads to a longer life expectancy. For one to reap these benefits from cardiovascular training, The Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Sports Medicine highly recommend that you are participating for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 3-4 days of the week. This induces an effective way to improve muscular strength and endurance while improving coronary risk factors.
Benefits of Weight Training
Weight training has become increasingly common in people’s workout routines. It is typical for people to go to the gym and feel nervous and unfamiliar with dumbbells, barbells, and other big exercise machines in the gym. It can make someone feel insecure about their workout and decrease their motivation. However, the benefits of including weight lifting and strength training have demonstrated the importance of the implementation.
In a research study conducted by multiple international universities of Europe, 29 participants had gone through a pre-participation health screening and had measured their maximal oxygen consumption, body composition, and resting metabolic rate. After the measurements were conducted, the participants had performed three different training regimens such as exercise performed while using machines, free weight exercise, or a combination of free weight exercises and treadmill running.
It was discovered that the greatest contribution to aerobic energy expenditure was found during the combination of free weights exercises and treadmill running. This statement further supports the act of performing both cardiovascular exercise and strength training on the same day. (Benito et. al 2016). In addition, the benefits of weight lifting like having a lower chance of being diagnosed with osteoporosis, decreased symptoms of depression and improved flexibility in joints.
The Final Question: Is it Safe to Perform Both Cardio and Weight Training on the Same Day?
In terms of safety, it is relatively safe to perform both cardiovascular and resistance/weight training on the same day. Specifically, individuals who experience knee osteoarthritis or another chronic orthopedic illness may greatly benefit from a combined aerobic and resistance exercise training. A research study conducted in 2016 that had 78 patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis participate in three different aerobic-resistance combination programs along with completing a pain questionnaire at the beginning and end of the study. It was later found that all patients had reported decreased knee pain and overall more satisfaction with their daily errands. All three programs had significantly demonstrated an improvement of pain, and it was noted that one program might work better than the other depending on what symptom the patient had.
Another research study by the American College of Sports Medicine had evaluated the workout order of cardiorespiratory, resistance, neuromotor, and flexibility exercises with 24 participants with a rest interval of 48 hours in-between each workout. The results of the study showed that the “exerciser should first perform cardiorespiratory exercise, then complete the resistance-training component. The flexibility and neuromotor exercises should be performed third and fourth in the sequence, in either order” (ACE 2014). For instance, cardio is performed first because the mean heart rate had increased later throughout the workout if cardio is performed last than when it is performed first. It is actually riskier to perform cardiovascular exercise later in your workout due to this sequencing. Instead of prescribing a moderately intense workout routine, the clinician could unknowingly be putting their patient under a higher heart rate level and this a more strenuous workout routine.
In conclusion, the decision to perform cardiovascular exercise along with weight training is up to you. While there are benefits from performing segments such as cardio earlier in your training program, it is entirely up to you.
Ultimately, doing cardio and weights on the same day will not make a difference
It really depends on your goals.
Are you trying to train for a competition?
Are you running a marathon?
There are too many sports and specific circumstances to consider in order to generate a well-thought-out plan for you. However, this does not reduce the effectiveness of our suggestions. Yes, you can do cardio and weights on the same day. You can do them separately as well. It really depends on how you want to tackle your goals. For instance, do you want to spend your entire Saturday and/or Sunday dedicated to doing cardio and lifting heavy weights? Chances are, probably not.
This is one reason why many lifters space their workouts, whether cardio or weights, throughout the week, giving them an ample amount of time to balance their lives. What is probably most important is what you do with your time and directly compare that with how much rest you are getting each day.
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CrashCourse. Muscles, Part 1 - Muscle Cells: Crash Course A&P #21, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ktv-CaOt6UQ.
Comparison of Three Modes of Aerobic Exercise Combined with Resistance Training on the Pain and Function of Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial - ScienceDirect.” Accessed August 23, 2019. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1466853X17307009.
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Thompson, Paul D., Ross Arena, Deborah Riebe, and Linda S. Pescatello. “ACSM’s New Preparticipation Health Screening Recommendations from ACSM’s Guidelines for
Jonathan.Thompson. “Strength And Cardio Training: Should They Mix?” Johnson Fitness, May 7, 2019. https://blog.johnsonfitness.com/blog/strength-and-cardio-training-should-they-mix/.
Science Insider. Fitness Experts Debunk 17 Exercise Myths, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW9hz1kZP2I&t=179s.