A common question patients and clients ask us is what's the best order for working out: cardio first or weight training? and can one do both in the same session? A common myth that gets passed around gyms is that doing both at the same time interrupts your results. On that question, the research is consistent: You can do both cardio and strength training in the same session without any interference in the outcome of either or your recovery.
Then there is the question of which order gets you the best caloric burn after your workout. The idea of after-burn, or how many extra calories you burn even after you stop exercising thanks to an elevated metabolism, has been well researched and documented. As a general rule of thumb, the longer you work out, and the harder you workout, the more bang for your buck you get even after you stop. This begs the question: does doing cardio before or after you hit the weights result in more after-burn?
There the research is far from clear, and arguments can be made for either order. But given that safety and injury prevention are at the core of our Fitness For Life philosophy, we recommend that all else being equal, you should do your cardio first. That's because the relatively safe motion of an exercise bike or light jog gets your blood flowing and warms up your joints and muscles, reducing the risk of injury when you start to lift weights.
After a 10 minute warm-up, you are free to do whichever activity you like in the order that you prefer. Better yet you can proceed to do both cardio and resistance training at the same time, by doing more reps of a lighter weight, taking only brief rests between sets and even throwing in a set of cardio like the jump rope in between different weightlifting exercises.
Lastly always remember that the best results come when you shock your system. So if you have always been doing weights then cardio, try the reverse, or if you've been doing a half hour bike ride before hitting the dumbbells, do 10 minutes on the bike to warm-up, then your weight lifting routine, then finish with the remainder of the cardio.