Cardio isn’t required in your training routine but it is highly recommended. In order to keep things simple I will only focus on performing LISS(Low Intensity Steady State) cardio as opposed to discussing all forms of cardio. Along with benefits such as increased heart strength, most people utilize cardio to burn extra calories to increase fat loss. The best times for you to perform your cardio will ultimately depend on your goals and/or lifestyle. In the past, I’ve done cardio post workout, pre workout and even fasted. Each time frame has its own benefits believe or not. Choose the time frame that will benefit you the most in your own journey.
Post Workout Cardio
If your goal is to build the most amount of muscle possible, cardio at the end of your workout will be the smartest choice. Main reason is to be able to utilize your energy on the lifts that will build the most muscle instead of cardio. If you have scheduled to perform a 30 minute cardio session and you get that done first, you’ll have less energy during your strength training portion of your workout. It’s completely fine to warm up with 5-10 mins of cardio but completing the entire cardio session before hand can impact your strength levels during your strength training. Prioritizing your energy for the heavier lifts will allow you to lift the most amount of weight while applying the most amount of tension to your muscle. With LISS cardio being low impact on the body, you should still be able to perform it towards the end of your workout.
Pre Workout Cardio
Let’s say your someone who doesn’t care much about building or retaining muscle while dieting, performing your cardio before hand is an option. Also if the strength training fatigues you to the point of where you have little to no energy to perform the cardio post workout, doing your cardio first will benefit you tremendously as well. I always emphasize to my clients to incorporate strength training and cardio together because it’s the smartest way to lose fat, but if the strength training is more taxing on the body, prioritizing cardio first will ensure that you have the energy to complete your full routine.
Fasted Cardio/Separate Session
Fasted cardio is a concept a lot of individuals believe in. The theory is that if you perform cardio while being in a fasted state, your body resorts to its fat stores as energy to get through the cardio. Makes sense right? Only problem is that there isn’t any studies to back up this claim. Instead we have a study where 20 women were divided into two groups, one group performing cardio in a fasted state and another group performing cardio after consuming a meal. The conclusion was that body compositions were similar between the two group regardless of being fasted or fed prior to training. Click here for the full article on the study. So what’s the point of doing fasted cardio anyway? Fasted cardio or performing your cardio session separately can help with potential time constraints while at the gym. For example if you prefer to strength training later in the day when you’ve eaten a good amount of calories but only have about an hour for your session, doing your cardio separately can help you not feel like there isn’t enough time to complete your entire routine.
After reading this article you should now understand that the best time for YOU to do cardio is the time that works best for YOU! There is a lot of misinformation in the fitness industry that has cause many of us to over complicate our lives to reach our fitness goals. If you don’t like doing cardio first thing in the morning, you can do it at other times of the day. Cardio is a tool that is used to create a larger caloric deficit therefore as long as you get it done and the time you choose to perform it aligns with your goals, you will lose fat and reveal the physique you desire.