|Could the "wrong" exercise order be holding you back?|
I, for my part, have done both in the past and didn't notice much of a difference. For mere time reasons I do my cardio completely separate from my workouts, but in general, I would probably do longer 20min+ low intensity steady state cardio after the workouts. Not the least for the beneficial effects of very low intensity exercise on both metabolic and performance markers of recovery (Corder. 2000).
If we take a look a the results of a recent study by Moritz Schumann et al., these acute recovery effects may yet have about as little effect on the real-world outcome of your training sessions as the temporary reduction in testosterone the researchers from the Public University of Navarra, the Edith Cowan University and the University of Connecticut observed in those 12 of their ca. 30 years old, ca. 179 cm tall and ca. 79 kg heavy male, recreationally active study participants who had been randomized to the "cardio before weights" (E + S: endurance before strength training) group. It goes without saying that the exercise prescriptions for the E+S and S+E groups were identical:
For the "E" in "E + S", the subjects cycled on a regular ergometer at an intensity that was controlled by heart rate zones determined from subjects’ individual aerobic and anaerobic threshold obtained during the baseline measurement at week 0 and 24.
"During the first 12 weeks of training, the subjects per formed according to their corresponding training group either 2x[1E + 1S] or 2x[1S + 1E] per week.
Additional read: "Cardio&Strength What Do I Do First?" Plus: Could the Answer Be Sex-Specific?" | more
During the second 12 weeks, the frequency was increased so that two combined training sessions were performed in every 1st and 4th week and three combined training sessions in every 2nd and 3rd week (i.e., 2x[1E + 1S] or 2x[1S + 1E] or 3x [1E + 1S] or 3x[1S + 1E], respectively). " (Schumann. 2014)
|Figure 1: Overview of the 24-week study protocol (Schumann. 2014)|
"The endurance program consisted of both steady-state and interval exercise sessions while the intensity was progressively increased from low (below the aerobic threshold) to high (above the anaerobic threshold) throughout both 12-week periods." (Schumann. 2014)If you add the 30-50 minutes it took the subjects to complete the periodized (circuit training 2-4 sets of all exercises at 15-20 reps 40-60% in week 1-2; 2-5 sets of 8-10 reps @80-85% during the rest of the study) strength training routine, that consisted of exercises for the lower and upper body, i.e.
- lower body -bilateral dynamic leg press, as well as both bilateral (weeks 1–7 and 13–18) and unilateral (weeks 8–12 and 19–24) dynamic knee extension and flexion -
- upper body - vertical shoulder press and lat pull down, as well as exercises commonly used to improve trunk stability -,
Post workout testosterone = statistically significant, practically irrelevant difference
In view of the fact that the total training time, the exercises and the workout frequency were identical, the previously mentioned inter-group differences in post-workout testosterone are attributable to the exercise order - irrespective of whether they were mediated by a reduced performance in the strength training session or whatever crazy counter-evidence you were just about to mention in the comments ;-)
|Figure 2: Serum testosterone concentrations during loading and recovery before (a) and after (b) the combined |
training (left); changes in basal serum markers after 24 weeks of training (right; Schumann. 2014).
|Figure 3: Rel. change in performance parameters within the 24 week study period (left); acute responses and recovery of maximal isometric leg press force (MVcmax) before (a) and after (b) the combined training (right; Schumann. 2014).|
- Chrismas, Bryna CR, et al. "Reproducibility of creatine kinase: how useful is this measurement tool?." International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings. Vol. 10. No. 1. 2014.
- Corder, Keith P., et al. "Effects of active and passive recovery conditions on blood lactate, rating of perceived exertion, and performance during resistance exercise." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 14.2 (2000): 151-156.
- Schumann, Moritz, et al. "The order effect of combined endurance and strength loadings on force and hormone responses: effects of prolonged training." European journal of applied physiology (2014).
- West, Daniel WD, and Stuart M. Phillips. "Associations of exercise-induced hormone profiles and gains in strength and hypertrophy in a large cohort after weight training." European journal of applied physiology 112.7 (2012): 2693-2702.