If you’ve been following my blog and/or my social media for a hot minute, you know that running is my absolute passion, but workout classes and lifting are my hobbies as well. You also know, I like a good morning sweat session!! Finding the balance between a good HIIT workout, a tad bit of lifting, and a whole lot of running is a daily struggle for myself and for others who also enjoy all areas of fitness.
That being said, a couple common questions I get is, “when should I workout?” and “do you prefer running first or do you do your weight/strength training first?”
I give the full disclaimer that the answer to this question truly comes down to the person, their training, and their preferences. But I am going to write about my routine and my preferences, in hopes that it helps others who also work on strength + cardio sports together.
To begin, let me explain that yes, a typical training day for me does include two workouts: one strength based, one cardio based. But it hasn’t always been that way. I did not wake up and jump right into double workouts. When I first began working out in 2015, I only started with one, 25 minute session a day. I actually didn’t start double workouts until I was training for a road marathon and trail ultra simultaneously in 2017. And, I only started double workouts because I truly enjoy a good lifting/strength session, and I love the endorphins of cardio rush that I get from running.
The short answer (about workout routines/structure) is this: I prefer and highly suggest morning exercise. I strength train first, I run/bike second. I do my lifting and strength work first thing in the mornings and I get my cardio when I run and/or bike later in the day.
The long answer and a few explanations:
Why morning? There are so many reasons I firmly believe in morning workouts for all people.
First off, I firmly believe that one needs to give their full, undivided attention to their workouts – for sake of energy, form, and injury prevention. I believe that you can put better, higher effort levels into your training when you are fresh, first thing in the morning after a good night’s sleep. From personal experience and seeing client’s experiences – working out at the end of a long day often means working out when you are already fatigued physically and mentally. Working out while fatigued, even if just mentally fatigued, is a recipe for disastrous injury.
Why strength training / lifting first? As I talked about, fatigue happens. And lifting or working on strength while fatigued is no bueno. Cross training and lifting is where the majority of the injuries happen. Yes, some athletes have injuries while out working on their sport, but many many many (way too many) injuries come from poor form, lifting too heavy, or cross training through fatigue. Most athletes do not have time or patience for injuries. And, if we are being honest – the workout drills that happen in cross training take a whole lot more focus than the repetitive motions of our cardio exercise.
Therefore, I believe that in order to give your full attention to the details of your form, your tempo, your weights, you need to perform your lifting/strength training BEFORE your cardio work. Whether your cardio work is running, biking, hiking, rowing or many other options, if you opt to do cardio first, you are likely to completely exhaust your body through that workout. Then, you are more likely to “half ass” it in your cross training, leading to injury.
That being said, I feel that if you are going to do double days, starting with your cross training in the morning is key, and then add in your cardio directly after or throughout the day as it fits into your schedule.
Again, these routines and suggestions are merely what works for me and what I suggest. Every person is very different. Whatever routine you are opting for, I suggest you do what works for your and your body for the safest options with the least possibility of injury.