Which Comes First, The Cardio Or Weights?

Cardio is good, cardio is great, lets us put more on our plate….IF you love it, that is!  I personally do NOT love cardio, and am willing to eat cleaner and train in a specific way so I can do less.

This is not a new concept, and it was first introduced to me by Bill Phillips, author of Body for Life (one of the gold standard programs for beginners in my opinion).   The idea is that lifting weights will always kill more fat than cardio because of the afterburn it creates.   You burn more fat during the cardio session than you would with weights, but once you step off the treadmill, it’s pretty much over.  However,  the effects of your lifting session will continue to burn calories up to 15 hours later, increasing the overall fat oxidation as a result.  Not to mention you’ll completely change the shape of your body, which cardio alone will never do.

aquashinydumbbellsmallFor this reason, weights are always priority number one for me.  If I am short on time and have to choose between them, it’s always weights.  And on days when I want to incorporate both, I revel in the fact that weight training increases my heart rate enough to serve as the initial warmup for my cardio session.

You know the old addage that says you have to put in 20 minutes of cardio before your body starts to burn fat?  Well, you’ve already done that with the weights, so theoretically you’re getting the effects of a 40 minute cardio session with just 20 minutes of actual cardio activity.  I find this to be one of the THE most compelling elements of this training, and I’ve grabbed onto it with both hands, my friends.

The bottom line is this:  I get that many of you love your cardio, so by all means do it to your heart’s content, but at least make sure it immediately follows your lifting session so you get the most out of the overall workout.

If you don’t love it, try doing only 20 minutes immediately after the weights OR ditch the traditional cardio and complete a metabolic finisher (under 10 minutes) and see what happens.  You might  just do the impossible – create some precious time for yourself, which is most likely a scarce commodity in your world.

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Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.

Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

Here is my web page; skin care (Kirsten)


I know WP can be glitchy sometimes! I really appreciate your stopping by, and thanks for the feedback 🙂

We Are 2Fit2 Quit

Excellent post! Tried and proven 2be true in every word! TY 🙂


Thank you kindly 2Fit! It’s amazing how many people use all their energy up on the cardio and have nothing left for the weights.


When I first had my fitness assessment at my grm, the personal trainer told me always do weights first, but never said why. Now I I know. I’m not a fan of those cardio machines either and try to fit in quick, fast-paced Tabata sessions instead.


Nice, bezzymates! I haven’t tried Tabata yet, but it looks intriguing.

The Original Transformation Workouts Have Moved « 43fitness

[…] I work out 5 days per week – lifting weights 5 days, with 3 sessions of cardio sprinkled in.  I ALWAYS do my cardio immediately after my weight workouts to save time.  For more on this, see No Cardio Until you Finish your Weights! […]

My Workouts Now « 43fitness

[…] I also include conditioning as part of my workout 2 days per week, usually on upper body days.  As I detailed in my Metabolic Finishers  post, I still am not a cardio fan, and have pretty much abandoned conventional cardio using the machines.  I have done this to preserve my muscle mass and my sanity.  I am in love with this new fat-burning method, so check it out and see if you feel the love too!  I ALWAYS perform my finisher immediately AFTER my weight workouts just as I did when I used to do traditional cardio.  For more on this, see No Cardio Until you Finish your Weights! […]


I just ordered the BodySculpting Bible for Women. 🙂 I’ll check out Nia Shanks link! 🙂 Thanks. As far as diet, I started reading all about low carb/ high protein diets and gave that a whirl, but my body does best with whole grain bread as I do not have a problem with gluten. I also tried counting calories and that didn’t do anything either (800-1200 cals/day), but probably consumed too many processed carbs. SO, I am going to go back to Bill’s “Eating-for-Life” cookbook and just really concentrate on the right portions. I have a body makeup that needs a balance of carbs and protein and healthy fat, not just protein and veges and healthy fat. I feel my best and more energetic with a balanced meal. I have to admit that I do battle a sweet tooth! 😉 When my husband and I did BFL, we ate clean 100% of the time with our cheat meal once a week, something I have not been able to do in a looong time. 🙁 Is it any wonder I don’t get anywhere! lol!


It’s great you’ve been able to figure out what your body needs. Now the execution. You can DO IT!!!


Yes, Body-For-Life’s plan is alternating weights and cardio days. The “new” plan from Bill Phillips is his 5/25, which also still alternates cardio and weight training days. Sounds like you do your own thing now?


I am not up on what he’s doing lately, but know he opened a new fitness center in Golden. Have you done that challenge? I never did, but loved the program. Yes, I do my own thing now. Most of my workouts are taken from The Bodysculpting Bible for Women, but I’ve also added new moves I have found through various sources like magazines and websites. It’s a continuing experiment!


Yes, I did the challenge and got truly amazing results! However, after a year, I got burned out by the intensity of the weight lifting and slowly let it all go. 🙁 That is why I’m fatter than ever (no lie). I started drinking a flavored nonfat mocha almost every day and gained 15 lbs in one year…! At age 43, it’s not wanting to come off for nothin’! Haven’t found what works for me at my age now because I’m too impatient. I want to see the pounds drop fast and that is not happening at my age. It did when I did the challenge, but i was much younger then. 🙂

Anyway, Bill is doing 5/25 which is HIIT for 25 min and then 5 weight lifting exercises at 10 reps each exercise all in a circuit (one after the other) for 25 min. You shoud see him now!! He looks even more muscular then he used to be! He tore his quad tendons completely off of his bone by walking down some stairs after an earlier major leg workout. Anyway, he had major surgery and was in bed and wheelchair for a month or more. He gained quite a bit of weight and of course lost a lot of muscle, but he’s fully recovered and ripped again!

I’ll check out the link! Thanks! 🙂


Have you ever seen my favorite blog? Nia Shanks writes it, and she has some great, new ways to train. ONe that comes to mind is this one This would definitely save you some time, maybe this could help, or one of the other numerous workouts Nia posts. I know changing things up keeps me from getting bored. Also, changing the diet was not quick for you? I only ask because it was really the catalyst for me, and the results inspired me to keep going way beyond my initial goals. Anyway, I really hope you can find something that works for you. My way certainly isn’t the only route!

I didn’t realize so much had happened with Bill. He is so iconic to me, and is really the reason I got started lifting so many years ago. Thanks for the update, Joanna!


You’ve talked about “cleaning eating”. What exactly is this? Is there a good resource/book to know what cleaning eating is all about?


Hi Brenda, you should check out Tosca Reno’s website She’s also published a lot of great books with recipes. The basic principal of clean eating is to avoid sugar and processed foods. Eat lean proteins and dairy, complex carbs such as brown rice and sweet potatoes, lots of fruits and veggies and good fats such as avocado, nuts and olive oil.

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