Physical Fitness Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for physical fitness professionals, athletes, trainers, and those providing health-related needs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

145 pounds, 170cm tall, female. been doing cardio & weight lifting for 2 months with good diet, goal is to lose body fat and gain muscle. what is the science behind doing weights before/after cardio? will it really affect my gains/weight loss either way?

share|improve this question
What kind of cardio are you talking about? If it is low-intensity cardio, your probably not going to see much of a result. If it is HIIT, do it at the end of a work out, or on off days. – Lasse Aug 4 '14 at 10:19

Generally, you should identify which exercise is more in line with your goals, and do that one first. For instance, as rowers, my team will row first, and lift after. This allows us to perform the row at 100%, while the lift, performed while tired, lacks some intensity and focus.

In your case, it would seem like lifting is more in line with your goals, as you don't state a desire to improve cardio capacity, only to lose weight and make muscle gains. By lifting first, you will maximize the amount of muscle you gain, and can adjust to any decreased cardio intensity with a diet change. In the reverse scenario, you wouldn't be able to adjust your diet to make up for a reduced lifting intensity.

Another factor the order depends on is the general intensity of your cardio work. Above, I'm assuming it tires you out enough that it would impact your ability to lift; however, this may not be the case. If you feel that you can still perform the lift at full capacity after cardio, then the cardio could serve as a great warm-up for the lift, and you might be better off doing cardio first.

share|improve this answer

After workout your body continues burning additional calories from your body for 48 hours, a process called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. EPOC occurs because your body needs to repair your muscles after the heavy workout. The more intense your workout is, the EPOC occurs at higher rate. So if you cardio before lifting weight, you won’t have energy to work as hard as you can.

A University of Tokyo Study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that doing cardio after weight training burned more fat during the first 15 minutes of the cardio session than doing cardio before lifting.

Don’t believe me? Try it yourself! Weight one day before cardio and vice-a-versa on the other day, and share your experience.

Learn more about the effects of over training and tips to avoid it.

share|improve this answer
The effects of EPOC are (typically) overstated.… – Eric Kaufman Jan 30 '15 at 16:51
Even if fat burning rate is increased in the first 15 minutes, it's not going to be large enough to make a meaningful impact. A short 10-15 cardio session before lifting will increase circulation and warm up the muscles -- much more useful. If you're planning to lift very heavy (e.g. >85% 1RM) then I would avoid a lot of cardio before and save all your energy for the lifts. In fact, I would recommend foregoing traditional cardio entirely and do HIIT. For example, get on a rower (e.g. 5x500m sprints with 3 mins rest) or do light high-rep thrusters. – Martin Krzywinski Jan 30 '15 at 21:53

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.