We get the questions “when should I be doing my cardio in conjunction with my weight training? Should I do it the same day, or day after?” Before we answer this question, let’s take a couple steps backward and understand your body a little more. The beauty of cardio vs. strength training is that they are two totally different systems you are working. When you are doing “cardio” activity you are working, you guessed it, you cardiovascular system. When you are strength training, you are working your skeletal muscles system. Your cardiovascular system is far more resilient than your skeletal muscles system. For example, your heart beats all the time, every day, all day and doesn’t need rest. If it does, you do not have a pulse and that is a whole other issue. Your skeletal muscles do get fatigued easily because you are actually breaking down muscle tissue and it needs rest to build back up and be stronger. Okay, now let’s get back into how to plan your strength and cardio sessions.
The main consideration is, are you training for something specific with your cardio (a marathon or triathlon) or are you just doing it for cardiovascular benefits / endorphins / having a good sweat sesh? If you are preparing for something specific it’ll be important to time it out where your speed work or your long distance run happens when you’re fully recovered (two days after a strength session).
If you’re just doing cardio because you like to and you are not training for a specific event, it’s not the end of the world if you plan it the day before of after a lift. You could even do it the day of. It’s just a matter of what is your objective? Are you trying to perform better in your cycle class or do you want more energy in your strength training session and be able to see all your weights improve.
Take Home Message: If you are training for a specific cardio event, make sure to go into your speed work and long runs well rested from your strength training sessions. If you are going out for a casual run to get some activity in, feel free to do your cardio whenever you feel best.