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Is Combining Your Workout Better For Your Diet?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I get questions like this all the time: “Is it better to do my strength training and cardio workouts on different days, or can I do both on the same day?” Typically, my response is that it really doesn’t matter in the long run. I recommend doing whatever works best for your schedule. But a recent study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine shows that when it comes to your diet, it might be better to combine your workouts.

For 16 weeks, study participants did cardio, lifted weights or combined the two while recording everything they ate. Those who did both their cardio and strength in the same workout ate an average of 517 fewer calories per day by the end of the study. Researchers theorize that combining your workout may cause a shift in hormones that control appetite, and therefore you don’t feel as hungry.

Do you notice a difference when you combine your workouts versus doing cardio and strength training on separate days? Is it any easier to stick to your diet? Do you notice a difference in your weight loss progress?

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I have been combining my workouts and enjoy it more. I do my strength training, then my kettlebell swings for my cardio, I finish up with a 3-5 Km walk as a cool down. I find it flows together well, and walking it off helps me to not have sore muscles the next day. Report
I find that when I weight train or do extensive cardio that I struggle to have less than a 1,000 calorie deficit at the end of the day. I don't "eat back" all those extra burned calories because it's just too much, but if I carry a 1,000+ deficit for too many days days I plateau. I have pretty much decided not stress over it. Sometimes I combine the workouts, but as long as I get them all in during the week I'm happy because I just feel so much better. Report
On the days I do weights/strength after cardio (I work out in the early a.m.) I find that I'm MUCH hungrier than on the days I do cardio alone. I know strength is important, but I have to really be on my game for the remainder of the day. Report
I've been doing the January Jumpstart and amped up my workouts but have remained stable with my weight. Report
When I workout in the evening I eat less. I'm not hungry after the gym. . .

But when I work out in the morning, then my appetite is more normal. Report
I do The Firm video workouts, and I have noticed on the days that I do them I have a hard time getting all my calories in for the day. The Firm combines cardio and weights so my experience would be that it does decrease your appetite to combine them. I have tried eating a bigger breakfast so that I get all of my calories in but I still seem to fall short on carbs more often than not. Report
I usually shy away from combining cardio and strength as I tend to feel overused of my energy - maybe not enough food or nutrition? The most combination I did was warm up (cardio) and strength. Hmm, but this theory seems to be worth to try, I just need to eat and rest the right amount. Report
I do my strength training and stretches one day, and then do the cardio and stretches the next day. I'm going to try to do all in one day, and see if that works better in the long run. Thanks for the information. Report
I recently started combining my workouts and can attest to the decrease in appetite. I suspect that there is a 'better' combination in physical activity just as there is in our diet. I am testing and tweaking to find the combination that works for me. Report
I conbine my workouts and I haven't noticed any change in my calories I've eaten. I love doing my workouts back to back. Cardio first and then strength training. Great workout. Report
I've been doing circuit training on different days than cardio, and only yesterday did I consider combining the two. I went on the treadmill for 20 minutes, running for about 10 of those minutes, and then did about 10 minutes of circuit training with weights and squats. I felt it was necessary to step up my workout at this point. I plan to increase the time on both the cardio and circuit workouts. Report
I combine them and have done so for about two months now. I do High Intensity Interval Training 2x a week on those days I do heavy leg work (squats, leg press, glute-ham raises, lunges, etc.) and regular runs on days I do upper body work or calisthenics....I eat much less (at least 500 cals) and sleep much better as well.... Report
I haven't noticed a difference. I strength train 2 or 3 days a week and cardio 5 or 6 times for at least 30 miinutes, more if I have time. So....I overlap but my cardio isn't as intense on the days I ST. Report
I have only been doing a combined workout about once a week, but I've been wondering if I should do it more often. I had not paid attention to how it affected by appetite, but I will take note of it now. Report
I usually do strength training my cardio workouts. I believe I am less hungry on these days. It may be because I drink so much water during/after my cardio. Report
I combine cardio and weight days all the time. This has worked out for me and my weightloss very well. I workout around 4-5x/week, I do shorter cardio on the 3 days I strenght train as I lift weights pretty intensely. In between those days I devote to just cardio, 1 hour, sometimes longer and abs. So don't be afraid to combine both as they also help with curbing my appetite and cravings. I find the more intense my workouts are, the less I eat. Report
I've tried exercising without dieting, thinking I'd get in better shape and then start to diet. I've tried dieting without exercise thinking I'd lose weight and then be better able to exercise once I'd lost some weight. Now, with SP I am doing both and it is making a huge difference. I do believe I am less hungry and I believe I am burning more calories to help take off the weight. Report
I noticed that I don't get hungry easily after I've done weights and if I do eat I crave healthier foods and not so much meat! Report
Since I've added strength training on a regular basis along with cardio on the same day I don't eat as much. Why? I think I've fueled my body enough so I just don't eat extra. Report
I do try to both on 3 days a week and the i try cardio 4 days a week. This is great for me. Report
totally agree with you here... I do the curves training which combines strength and cardio very effective
I do 3 days of work followed by 1 day of rest. On my "work" days I combine cardio with ST and I notice a dramatic decrease in my "mental" hunger. (you know, when you see that commercial and your brain says 'if I don't have that banana split right NOW I'm going to scream') On my "rest" days I run or walk only and I could just about eat all day long. Report
I try to do aerobic exercise 5 to 6 days a week and every blue moon 7. Strength training is done with pilates mainly but I have done them with aerobics too.I have health challenges so sometimes my endureance isn't what it should be. But I don't let that stop me. I go a little slower. I never give up though. I have not noticed my appetite with them either way?? Report
I do both and always have. I know there is always the question shouldn't you rest your body at times and do every three dyas or so strength training but I do everyday. Report
Thanks for the information. I combine workouts by doing step aerobics with heavy hand weights. It's a big difference that just doing the step aerobics. Report
I do cardio five days a week, ST three days a week. Boy do I feel GREAT!!!! I try to rest on the weekends. Report
I wonder if you have to cardio and weight training into the same session?

I lift weights 4 days/week in the morning, but I also go for a walk/jog for 30-45 minutes over my lunch break every day, plus I always do 5-10 minutes of cardio (usually the rowing machine) to warm my muscles up for weight training, so I've never really done "just" weights. Even in high school, we ran sprints for 20 minutes before going into the gym to lift. Report
WOW! I'll certainly give it a try. Thanks for sharing. Report
I do three days of weight training a week and those are the only days I combine. I limit my weight workout within 45 minutes then I do a 20-min light cardio afterward to make it just a bit over an hour. I wouldn't recommend doing more than that because your body will then begin to break down. No point to push hard and not seeing results. Report
I've always combined cardio and weight training in the same workout. I used to start with my 30 minutes of cardio then do 20-25 minutes of weight training then 5-10 minutes of ab work.

Now I still combine, but differently. I do 10 minutes of cardio, then 3 sets of weights, then a set of ab work, then everything all over again. It keeps me from getting bored and I think it keeps my heart rate consistent over the hour; more so than doing one first then the other. It's also great because sometimes I feel like I can do my cardio a little harder in 10 minute increments instead of over the full 30 minutes.

When I'm consistent about exercising, it seems to work well for me...I lose weight very consistently. I think that's because I'm building muscle which helps burn calories even when I'm not working out! Report
After reading this it has made me think, because for the last 6 weeks I have been combining my workouts, and my weight has gone up. Obviously I knew it had done this, but not why. Perhaps combining is the reason - for me. I know I have been eating differently, perhaps this is also due to combining.

Perhaps I am clutching at straws, ready to blame anything but myself for the gain???

I've noticed a big difference in my fitness level by doing 2 workouts a day that one is cardio and one is strength.

It works for me. Some days the strength intensity is subservient to the cardio--for example if I do spinning, then a pilates class polishes it off. Or if I do the super intense circuit training with heavy weights, then the cardio won't be quite as intense so I'll have done something like some finning laps in the competition pool beforehand.

But I love doing them both the same day.

Paula Report
M-F I do cardio every day and ST on T-TH. On these days my cardio workouts are shorter and less intense because I'm pretty tired from ST. But I find I'm the opposite, in that I'm hungrier on these days. I figure I'm burning a lot more calories so it doesn't hurt to eat a little more, but now I'm very curious why so many people have a different experience in this regard. Report
I do cardio and strength training the same day, but not the same workout. If you're doing high intensity cardio and high intensity weight training one will suffer if you try to do them one after the other... unless you're doing circuit training. Report
I believe the question was, can you do cardio and strength training or a combo on the same day?

Well, yes and no. You can do cardio and ST on the same day, but you DO NOT want to do strength training in consecutvie days in a row because this will not allow your muscle to be built up. It will have just the opposite effect, your body will consume the muscle and make it smaller and that is not how you want to go.

So you can do cardio every day of the week if you want, but only do ST every other day to give your muscles a chance rest and repair the cells and tissues which you have torn down by the ST.

I know that when I do serious exercise, such as yoga, my muscles are exhausted, and so I will do cardio the next day and then I feel better to do other ST after my "day of rest". Report
This is great news for me, as a shiftworker working 12 hour shifts i need to combine my workouts or risk skipping one or the other depending on work days. I tend to work out harder on my days off so now i don't feel as guilty like i'm cheating by doing both to get them in. I feel so much stronger when i weight train, but more energy from cardio so i know i do need both to get me thru. Report
This is great news. I hope it helps to just get going on this. I'll try to do both. Report
Wow I didn't it was ok! I will start to combine mine from now on! I will see if I eat less. Report
I'm another person looking for a plateau buster, so this is of interest. My exercise time is very limited, but recently I've been adding a few sprint intervals to my running, which means I burn more calories & can shorten my runs a bit. Maybe I'll add a few strength training exercises each day, alternating upper body & lower body/core, rather than setting aside different days for just ST. Report
I combine my workouts for time sake and they are the workouts I enjoy more. As far as controlling hunger, I can't tell a difference. Report
I found out the best routine for me is to do cardio 5 - 6 times a week, then alternate upper and lower body strength training in addition to the cardio Report
I try walking at least 6 days a week and do upper body strength 3 times a week and lower body 3 different days. Report
I do seem to fill up more on the water I need when doing both. But I've noticed that I'm not as strong when doing both on Strength Training days. Report
I just find the more time i spend working out the less food I eat. May be more to do with not being bored though! Report
I don't know if it affects my weight loss in any way, but it definitely has an impact on my appetite. I eat less on days I have a combined workout. Report
I'm glad to hear about this report and would like to try combining cardio and strength to see if it makes a difference in my hunger levels. Thanks! Report
I had been emphasizing the two on different days, or at least different times of the day, because I felt I was working harder on each aspect that way! After this study, I think I'll experiment a bit, and record my hunger levels (I already record calories) both ways. Often I do circuit anyway :) Report
One way to do this is to do circuit training, which combines cardio with strength training. I do circuit training 2-3 times a week and straight cardio the other 2-3 days a week. This way I'm getting 5 days of cardio and 2-3 days of strength training but not adding any additional days/hours. Report
I haven't thought about it, I will take note this week. Report
I fit my strength workout in throughout the day, guess I will make a more concentrated effort to put cardio and strength together. Report
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