A very common question that comes up, whether it’s from clients or from family and friends, is “What should I be doing first, cardio or weights?” The response is always the same: “it depends.” This normally annoys people, as I then need to explain what it depends on and why (and in the case of family and friends boring them in the process), and it usually doesn’t end with the answer they were actually fishing for! So let’s have a look at what it depends on.
Whenever you perform any kind of training at all, you are providing a set of stimuli for the body, for example: a reduction of muscle and liver glycogen (fuel which has been used up during the exercise); a change in the pH levels of the muscles and the blood (your body using fuel makes the muscles and blood slightly more acidic); structural ‘damage’ to the muscle cells and protein degradation (by force being applied to them by increasingly forceful contractions), as well as many others. Each of these stimuli cause inflammation in the affected tissues, which despite what the anti-oxidant marketeers and holistic health quacks keep spouting, is not a bad thing. Indeed, this inflammation is a key element of the adaptive process and is what causes our bodily systems to get better and adapt after exercise.