ExerciseOften, when people exercise they try to fit in different types of exercise (cardio, abdominals or core, strength and flexibility) into their workout. This is fine and can be very productive, however, it is important to order the types of exercises so that the workout is most effective. Whether doing a couple of types of exercise or all of these types, it is good practice to follow this order:
- 5 minute warm up and stretching
- Abdominal or Core Exercises
- Strength Training
- Cardiovascular / Aerobic Training
- Cool Down
Warm Up and Stretching: A warm up is important because it increases blood flow to the muscles that you will be working. This helps to warm up your joints and increase your heart rate and body temperature...all helping to prevent injury, improve flexibility and prepare your body for the exercises to come.
Abdominals: You use your core muscles (abs and back) for almost every movement that you do, whether it be cardio or weights. Exercising these muscles first helps to ensure that they aren't 'tired out' by the time you get to them. Further, you will continue to work your abdominals as you move onto the rest of your workout.
Strength Training: Nutritionally, it is best to weight train first. When you exercise, you first use carbohydrates for energy. Then, you use fat for energy. When you strength train, the preferred source of energy for your body is carbohydrates. When you do cardio, your preferred source of energy is fat (this is why we hear about burning fat when you do cardio). Further, it can take up to 29 minutes of cardio activity to burn your carbohydrate stores. This implies that if you start with a 30 minute cardio session, you have only burned carbs, and then burned fat for only one minute. Using up your carbohydrate stores with strength training allows you to burn more fat when you do your cardio workout, making your workout much more effective. Now, from a more practical standpoint, strength training before cardio is safer. You haven't depleted yourself of all of your energy, allowing you to be more focused and aware of your form while strength training. This will help minimize risk of injury.
Cardiovascular Exercise: At this point, you are ready to burn fat. Additionally, if you are a bit tired, you can do low-impact and/or light cardio and still burn fat.
Cool-Down: For two to five minutes, it is good to slow down and let your body return to normal after your cardio workout. This will help prevent blood pooling in your extremities, lightheadedness and/or fainting after a workout.