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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  • 41
    I'm more likely to do my cardio than I am my strength training. How can I get motivated enough to keep from blowing off this important part of my workout? - 9/21/2008   2:50:29 PM
    I've never noticed this. I'll have to pay closer attention now that I am starting back into some kind of routine. thanks for the info.
    - 9/21/2008   11:10:54 AM
  • 39
    I have always combined the two since I do cardio 7 days a week, so I can't say whether it makes a difference or not. What I can say is that it works for me. - 9/21/2008   10:25:35 AM
  • 38
    I notice that I don't eat as much when I do cardio and strength training on the same days. But it might be because I don't have the time to graze through the evening! - 9/21/2008   8:37:33 AM
  • 37
    I do notice that I am not as hungry right after a workout. But as for when I am combining strength and cardio or not, I have never noticed or thought about it. I will pay attention this week to see. - 9/21/2008   7:32:56 AM
  • 36
    I haven't really noticed that, but then I do both most days. I'll have to go back over my logs and check. - 9/21/2008   4:37:02 AM
  • 35
    Thanks for this article.

    I will keep track more closely on my execiser workout that is making me lose the weight. - 9/21/2008   2:34:08 AM
  • 34
    I do strength on one day and cardio on another. I think I don't get bored and I'm motivated to be doing something a little different each day. I don't think I eat more this way. I actually have trouble getting enough fruits and vegetables every day. I have been well below my calories lately. - 9/20/2008   10:38:33 PM
  • 33
    Before last week I was doing cardio 6 days a week and strength training 3 days a week, and then I decided to switch things up since I have been on a plateau and also since I would find myself kind of dreading my long work out days--being at the gym for 2 hours, three days a week and feeling more tired on those days. So, I decided to just do a 20 minute fat burn on the elliptical machine to warm up before my strength training sessions and then do 55 minutes to an hour of cardio on the other three days. I think I need another week or so to figure out how this is working and whether I indeed ate less on the days I did both. - 9/20/2008   10:05:07 PM
  • 32
    I do this already, never thought about it not doing it. - 9/20/2008   9:22:06 PM
  • 31
    I do cardo everyday, I think I seeking a little strength in on the days that I only do cardo. - 9/20/2008   8:54:07 PM
    When I was losing weight I definitely found that combining strength and cardio helped to lessen the hunger pangs. The weight came off, if not smoothly, at least over every couple of weeks there would always be a downward slope. - 9/20/2008   6:05:43 PM
  • 29
    Very Interesting article, it just goes to prove I was doing it right. I always joined by weights and cardio on the same day. It just feels like I actually did something when I do both. Lately since I joined the local RecCenter, I have been doing weights, then some cardio and then cool down for a swim. Thanks for confirming!! - 9/20/2008   3:44:27 PM
    I've been combining both since I began on my fitness program on 06/06/08. There's debates as to whether strength training or cardio should be done first - however, for me, it's best to do cardio first because I've found that on days that I do strength training first, I don't have as much energy or motivation to do as much cardio as I'd like to do (30 - 45 min).

    Anyway, I've noticed that I've been able to consistently stay within 1350 - 1550 calories a day without ever being hungry. I have noticed that on the days that I lay off strength training (usually due to soreness), I do get hungrier and tend to consume more calories.

    In total, combining this fitness routine with healthy eating and food logging, I've lost 45 pounds between 06/06 and 09/08 (the date of my last weigh in). Oh and to keep the motivation up and keep from being discouraged, I JUST SAY NO to the scale. I allow myself a once a month weigh in, and that way, the results are ALWAYS fabulous! :) - 9/20/2008   2:37:07 PM
  • 27
    Personally, I found that when I was doing both, I was hungrier. But not by much - and still didn't eat as many extra calories as the exercise burned off. :) - 9/20/2008   2:09:01 PM
  • VMENDI63
    It's confusing to know which is best....some articles say if you want to lose 'fat', then do more cardio, others say combine the cardio with weights. I don't like doing weights, but the cardio alone is not doing enough, so will try the combination. My concern is the time committment to do both on the same day. - 9/20/2008   1:54:19 PM
  • 25
    This was very interesting. When I was a member at Curves, the 30 minute workout included both. Between the exercise equipment and mats, you received a whole body workout. I lost inches faster using this approach then others that I have used. After reading this article, I am going to combine both in my daily workouts. Naturally, if you've had very little exercise lately like me, the key factor is moderation and build up your routine as you go. - 9/20/2008   1:15:19 PM
  • 24
    I never really noticed. I usually get 30 minutes or more of cardio a day and so when I strength train, it is on the same day as some form of cardio. My weight loss is in the normal range so I don't really look for these kinds of things. When I plateau, I reasses what I am doing and usually find that I have relaxed a little on the calorie intake, but my exercise says the same. - 9/20/2008   12:52:05 PM
  • 23
    Interesting article. I may have to start doing a little of both on the same day instead of doing all on one day and all on another. - 9/20/2008   12:31:44 PM
  • 22
    I was an athlete in college trained to have my cardio and weights separate. I'm now a tired working mother of two. I went back to my athletic training methods and nothing budged. I started doing the FIRM workouts and have seen a noted difference. I feel better too, plus (being a working single mother) I can get more done in less time. On weekdays I usually do the short versions of the work outs. They are totally awesome. The other ones I love are the Tae-bo work outs. - 9/20/2008   11:46:39 AM
  • 21
    This is a good argument for me finally adding strength training back into my workout. I have noticed I binge more now that I only do cardio. - 9/20/2008   11:44:50 AM
  • 20
    I will start combinding cardio and strength training to get some results - 9/20/2008   11:44:06 AM
  • 19
    I think next month when I add an extra day of cardio I will have to change up the days I do my strength training and maybe do both together. It seems people are having a lot of positive results by doing that. I'll have to try it. - 9/20/2008   10:51:27 AM
  • 18
    I find that the days I have cardio/strength (yes, I combine) I don't HAVE an appetite, and am at the lower end of my calorie range, or end up having to get in a late night 'snack' to make calories. It's the day AFTER my workout where I'm 'ravenous'! - 9/20/2008   10:46:48 AM
    This makes a lot of sense. I'm always ravenous on the days i do just cardio. But i make it a habit to do at least a little bit of strength training each day. I see a drastic difference, i'm glad it's not just me. - 9/20/2008   10:19:20 AM
  • 16
    I do cardio 5 times a week and strength training on 3 days a week and on 2 of those days I combine strength and cardio. I always feel great afterwards. - 9/20/2008   10:17:17 AM
    Hmmm . . . this sounds like something I might need to try again. I love to do the FIRM workouts, but lately I've been focusing more on the cardio. I need to get back to the weights. - 9/20/2008   10:11:39 AM
  • 14
    Sounds like could be a plateau buster for me too! - 9/20/2008   10:02:22 AM
  • 13
    I go to Jazzercise 4 times a week and we do strength training with it each day. It's been easier for me to lose weight using SP and going to Jazzercise. I'll have to keep track of those days I do work out to see if I notice if it is easier to stick to the calorie intake on those days. - 9/20/2008   9:53:15 AM
    I do both cardio and strength training together every day aon average 6 days a week.. I always feel so good after my cardio that I hate to stop so I don't. I get my weights out and go through my routine and then often with do it a second time if I take a second power walk during the day.
    Since I changed my routine at the begining of September to combine the two programs I have almost doubled my weight loss average per week. - 9/20/2008   9:47:31 AM
  • 11
    I do cardio 6 days a week, and strength 3-4x a week so some days I do both. I have not noticed a decrease in calorie intake. I eat almost the same thing daily, I like ruts, if I change it up much I will have a lot of cravings ( mouth cravings ). - 9/20/2008   9:40:49 AM
  • 10
    The P/T who helped me recommended doing them both on the same day plus additional cardio on your S/T rest days to get the best results. - 9/20/2008   9:15:51 AM
  • 9
    I'm going to try this and see if it works for me. I usually never do cardio and weights on the same day. - 9/20/2008   9:15:04 AM
  • 8
    I will agree that when I started weight training along with cardio I lost more weight and it came of a lot quicker. I have also found that I have to eat more protein to help my muscles recover after weight training. Once I got on a weight training routine I could fit it easier into my cardio routine. - 9/20/2008   8:07:40 AM
  • 7
    Threw out my weight loss I have always done them together and have had GREAT results!! As for eating less, not sure, but I do notice on the days I workout I eat less then on the days I don't?!! - 9/20/2008   8:06:53 AM
  • 6
    I've noticed that I have lost more weight when I combined the two...not sure whether I was eating less or not but I had the best results that way! - 9/20/2008   7:49:09 AM
    I do cardio six days a week and strength three. I have found that I'm prone to eat less on the days that I combine the two. - 9/20/2008   7:44:59 AM
  • 4
    If I combine my workouts, the thing that gets done 2nd gets the short end of the stick. So I do only cardio or strength every day to keep my focus. - 9/20/2008   7:39:28 AM
  • 3
    Thanks for posting this.... I've been on a pretty long plateau (about 2 months) and maybe this would be a way to kick start my body into weight loss again.... worth a shot, anyway!
    Evelyn - 9/20/2008   7:29:10 AM
    It does get a bit confusing when one article says don't combine articles and another says it's o.k. It's just confusing. But I do have to say that when I combine my work outs, I feel less ravenous as opposed to when I first get into the gym. - 9/20/2008   7:27:36 AM
  • 1
    Now that I think about it, it did seem to be better, I'm going to look back in my exercise log. I had read not to do both on the same day but since I do cardio 6 days a week most weeks I have to do the strength training 3 of those days, i now just wait till later but maybe I'll go back to how I did's hard to lnow what to do as each article says somehting different. - 9/20/2008   7:19:01 AM

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