Run Before You Lift or Lift Before You Run?
Run Before You Lift or Lift Before You Run?
If you're looking to burn fat, and get the most out of your workouts, always save the cardio for last.
We all know the age old question; “which came first the chicken or the egg?” If you ask your friends for the answer you will probably find that people are split on which way to answer. Inexorably some will answer egg immediately because chickens are hatched from eggs, why wouldn’t it come first. Others answer that the chicken comes first because that is where eggs come, and so the battle wages on. Another question that has been asked almost as frequently with just as many people falling on either side of the equation is “run or workout? Which, should I do first?” The answer to this question depends on two things: proper exercise order and/or your training priorities for that particular training session.
First, let’s look at time commitment to training. In an era when modern conveniences should free up more time, we seem to be more and more constrained by it. People can access the internet from their phones, take classes on-line, or hold meetings around the world from one office and there still doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. If you are one of those people, you have to prioritize your training regimen. Prioritized training allows an individual to accomplish what needs to be finished in the time allotted. If there is only one hour for training and the workout calls for a 45 minute lifting session, then the last 15 minutes should be used for some type of cardio.
But why should cardio be saved for last? Good question. Exercises should be placed in order according to technical skill, speed and/or coordination, strength, and finally endurance. The central and limiting factor to all of the above is CNS (central nervous system) and muscular fatigue. CNS fatigue comes from overloading the body with too much stress (too heavy a weight, too many all out sprints) and can hinder maximal muscular/skill development. Exercises that require technical skill, for instance taking batting practice or working on stick work, should be placed first in the workout in order to take advantage of the required energy to perform or learn them.
Following technical skill is speed and/or coordination. Both require high demands of the central nervous system and if trained properly do not stress the muscular system too much. HIIT sprints, agility drills, and plyometric drills should be incorporated at this time. In the weight room Olympics lifts would come first due to their high demand in technique and speed of movement.
The development of strength then follows speed because of the higher demands placed on the muscular system. Although squats are hard they require less from the body than the above mentioned exercises.
Finally, endurance is developed last because it is nearly impossible to develop adequate speed or strength in the presence of fatigue. Additionally, when endurance is trained post strength training you can take advantage of your body’s depleted glycogen stores (an energy substrate derived from the breakdown of carbohydrates) and tap into the bodies stored fat for energy.
Ok, so how can all of this biochemistry help me burn more fat? Another good question. By now everyone knows that protein is needed for muscle development while carbohydrates and fats are needed for energy (carbohydrate being the prevalent source for energy in exercise). When strength training is performed before endurance (aerobic) training, the muscles use glycogen for energy. Glycogen stores are then depleted, similar to draining a gas tank on a long drive, with some glycogen left in reserve. The reserve glycogen is then used up in the endurance training calling for the body to tap into its reserve tank, body fat. Depending on the duration and intensity of the endurance training the fat reserve can be burned for several minutes up to a few hours after exercise is completed. Not bad, huh?
Again, it’s important to stress what is the ultimate goal of your training plan. A successful outcome is determined by proper planning and execution of the training plan. But if your goal is to burn body fat, doing cardio after your workout as opposed to beforehand is ideal.
Of course 1R, regardless of training goal, post-workout carbohydrates are essential to helping you retain muscle mass. Thus, we at OneResult recommend the following supplements:
- Optimum Nutrition 2:1:1 Recovery - The carbs and protein will help you recover and build lean muscle faster after tough workouts
- BSN True Mass - A post workout recovery product with 6 different protein sources will ensure that you’re maximizing your workouts
- Optimum Nutrition Glyco-Maize - The cleanest carbs around, the Waxy Maize Starch replenished glycogen stores after workouts
About the Author
In his third season as Northern Illinois’ Director of Sports Performance, Eric Klein is in his 16th year working with student-athletes in the area of strength and conditioning. In addition, Klein has spent several years as a football and track and field coach. At NIU, Klein oversees the Sports Performance for all 17 sports programs, directing a staff of four. He works specifically with the football and track and field programs. During his time at NIU he has helped the football program to post-season bowl appearances and major improvement in the performances of the track and field team. Prior to working at NIU, Klein spent seven years at Southern Illinois. In Carbondale, Klein designed the strength programs for the six-time Missouri Valley Conference Champion Saluki men’s basketball team and the three-time Gateway Conference Champion football program. Both programs saw numerous post-season appearances including a trip to the 2007 NCAA Basketball Sweet Sixteen and a 2007 semi-final appearance in the NCAA Bowl Championship Subdivision. A member of the NSCA, USA Weightlifting and the NASE, Klein is certified by each organization. Klein earned his master’s degree in physical education from Emporia State in 2000. He played football and threw at Carleton College (Minn.), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1993.
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