The choice of doing HIIT before or after weights depends on what you want to achieve from your workouts. If you want to lose weight and achieve an ideal BMI or if you want to improve your cardiovascular health, doing HIIT before weights can help you torch more calories. But, if you want to build muscle mass, you must start with weights and end your training session with cardio and stretching.
HIIT before or after weights- what does science say?
This is not guesswork; the benefits of doing HIIT before or after weights are scientifically proven. A study published in the Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness has concluded that doing HIIT before weights helps increase energy expenditure and post-exercise oxygen consumption; two factors that decide how fast you burn fat and lose weight. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) and a few other studies have claimed that if you are an already active person trying to build more lean muscles and grow stronger day by day, weight training should precede HIIT cardio so you can spend more of your energy on exercises that matter the most to you.
In this article, I will explain which form of exercise you should do first and why. I will also brief you if it makes sense to mix these two workouts in a single session or if should you do them on different days. Let's begin by understanding the logic behind doing HIIT before or after weights.
📖 Related Article: While cardio and HIIT workouts are excellent for losing weight, strengthening your heart, improving blood circulation, and reducing chances of injuries, doing even 10 minutes of HIIT can challenge you enough to skip your workout the next day. If your cardio health is not that good, here is a brief but useful guide on why your cardio is so bad and how you can fix it.
HIIT before or after weights- using glycogen wisely
Our body breaks down the food we eat and converts carbohydrates to glucose, which is used as energy. It converts the excess glucose to glycogen and stores most of it in the muscles and liver. Whenever there is not enough glucose level in the bloodstream (when you are exercising or fasting, etc.) it breaks down this glycogen to fuel the body’s energy needs. It burns fat only when glycogen storage is over.
When should you do HIIT before weights and why?
If you are trying to improve your cardio health to compete in a marathon or simply trying to lose weight, you must do HIIT before weights. This will help you use the glycogen storage for HIIT workouts. Since your energy levels will be higher (and so will be your motivation), you will be able to do fast-paced workouts for a longer duration. Once the glycogen storage is depleted, you will start feeling fatigued. That's when you should work with weights and let your body start burning fat for faster weight loss.
It may seem difficult initially but don’t worry; your performance will increase day by day. Plus, your primary goal will be achieved by the time you grab weights and any number of reps should be OK.
💡 Quick Tip: Staying hydrated during and after your workout can help reduce your body’s stress. It also helps boost your performance level. Products like Bare Performance Electrolytes Hydration Drink Mix have a well-balanced composition of crucial minerals and trace elements that can reduce the symptoms of dehydration such as headaches, muscle cramps, etc. They are additive-free with no added sugar.
Bare Performance Electrolytes Hydration Drink Mix
When should you do HIIT after weights and why?
As I said above, you must utilize your glycogen storage for doing those workouts that matter the most to you.
If you are a bodybuilder or an athlete trying to build lean muscles with no specific weight loss/cardio goals, you must do HIIT after weights. When you begin your session with weight training, you will be able to lift heavier and do more reps before getting exhausted. If you spend the first half of your workout session on an intense cardio machine such as the REP Fitness Ski-Row Dual Function Ski and Rowing Erg machine, you will be tired by the time you reach for your barbell or dumbbell and that's not what you want.
What I want to say here is that you need to prioritize your workout goals and then decide if you should do HIIT before or after weights.
💡 Quick Tip: Don’t have time to do both cardio and strength in a single session? Try stationary bikes such as YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike Stationary Bike. They have enough resistance to boost your heart rate as well as to make your muscles work harder and grow stronger. They are great for busier days but can be used during work breaks.
YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike Stationary Bike
What to do when you can’t do HIIT before or after weights?
Combining HIIT with weight strength training has numerous benefits. Studies have found that together they can help you lose weight and gain lean muscles significantly faster. They can decrease your chances of injuries and muscle loss. They can increase your lifespan too.
But, if you are a runner, you should be spending more time practicing for your marathon. Similarly, if you are trying to improve your strength and stamina, weight training should be your first reference. So, if you feel tired after doing your primary form of exercise or if you realize you don’t have time to exercise further, just stretch out and leave. After a few hours when your glycogen level has improved, if you feel like you are ready for your secondary set of exercises, you may go for it. You don’t have to combine HIIT with weights every day. Just do it twice or thrice a week.
And, don’t forget to keep changing your sequence i.e. HIIT before weights for a few weeks followed by HIIT after weights, and then repeat. By changing your sequence, you will keep challenging your body to try something new.
📖 Related Article: Are you trying to improve your cardio or overall health? Find out if 1000 Jumping Jacks Per Day is a Good Fitness Routine.
How to do HIIT and weights together instead of doing HIIT before or after weights?
If you don’t have any specific goals and simply want to improve your overall health and fitness, here are a few exercises that are as effective as doing HIIT before or after weights.
Remember to wear well-cushioned shoes such as New Balance Men's 623 V3 Casual Comfort Cross Trainer and Reebok Men's Nano 9 Cross Trainer to keep your balance and protect your knees from wear and tear.
Burpee with weights
Dumbbell renegade rows
Weighted squat jumps
Pulse Goblet Squat + Calf Raise
Staggered Deadlift + Reverse Lunge
Hand Switch Lateral Squat
Dumbbell Burpee Deadlift
Still can’t decide if you should HIIT before or after weights? Don’t worry; do whatever you feel like because unless you have specific goals that you must achieve within a specific time frame, it doesn’t matter what you do first. What matters is that you remain committed to your goals and be regular in your gym or home gym.