There is a mantra of "do which is important first" which is fine unless your goal is fat loss. Since strength training is more important than cardio for fat loss I do not see it as a preference thing regarding importance.
I am of the training school which says do them separately unless you are training as a runner. When I was coaching track and field, cross country running and cross country skiing workouts were always stated with the strength workout which I never found to degrade the later cardio work.
For general fitness doing three days a week of strength training and cardio on non strength training days is the way I structure programmes for my clients. Cardio as a warm up for strength training does not activate the muscle you will use for the strength training so a better option is to do bodyweight exercises for your warmup or use very light weights for the first set of each exercise. Do not include this set in your total for the day since it is a warm up which you record separately.
Fitness Minutes: (930)
124 2/24/13 8:26 P
It's always an option to do them on different day. Before you do strength training you should always warm up. If you workout at the gym this could be 5-10 minutes of light cardio on the treadmill. I personally workout at home so that's typically 5-10 minutes of things like jumping jacks and running in place. However, I do my actual, intense cardio on a different day.
Fitness Minutes: (14,252)
9,646 2/24/13 8:14 P
Jspear, what you're talking about is a warm up, which is what should always be done before a workout. If you do cardio before strength training, you will not be able to strength train as effectively.
Fitness Minutes: (1,457)
5 2/24/13 4:39 P
I've always heard cardio first because it gets the blood and oxygen pumping to the muscles more thoroughly and you are therefore less likely to be injured when weight training. Not sure if that's true, just what I've always been told, and what I've always done.
Fitness Minutes: (14,252)
9,646 2/24/13 10:44 A
I don't quite understand your post. ;) I think something messed up.
Anyway, to answer the question posed in your subject line, you do whatever is most important to you. Whatever you do second will suffer by comparison. If your primary goal is lean muscle building, metabolism boosting, etc, go for strength training. I would say as a general rule that strength training's more important, but it depends on your personal goals. Just know that you won't have as much energy to do the second thing, whatever that may be.
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