Intervals for Cardio


Interval Training Before or After Weight Training?

Weight TrainingI am sure most of the visitors to this site also do weight training in addition to interval training. You might ask when is the best time to do interval training. Below I have ranked the best times to schedule interval training around your weight workouts. Keep in mind, it is best to separate interval training and weight workouts as much as possible. Spreading your energy out is easier on your body and better for recuperation. If you add intervals to your weight training regimen, I recommend doing two interval workouts per week rather than three because when combined with weight training two interval workouts per week is enough to yield good results.

Best times to work in Interval Training around Weight Workouts

1. Off Days from weight training

Ideally, it is best to do interval training on your off days from weight workouts. The more you spread out weight training and cardio workouts, the less taxing it is on the body and recuperation.

2. Two or more hours before or after weight training

You can do intervals two or more hours before or after your weight workouts. The downside of this is that you will have to make time for two workouts in one day, which I am sure isn't realistic for most people due to busy life schedules. The best way to fit in an interval workout without having to making a second trip to the gym is to do some running intervals on a nearby park trail or high school track, or even on your neighborhood sidewalk. And if you own cardio equipment at home, you can just use it whenever convenient to schedule interval workouts around weight workouts.

3. Right after weight training

This option is probably most realistic and convenient for most people. I even do most of my interval training workouts right after my weight workouts simply because it's just more convenient. I am already warmed up after weight training, so I just go ahead and knock out some intervals on the treadmill, elliptical trainer, or exercise bike. Keep in mind that putting weight training and interval training into one workout is pretty taxing on the body. Therefore, if you choose to do intervals right after weight training, I recommend that you do about 2/3 of the amount of intervals that you normally do. For example, if you normally do 8 intervals, cut them down to 5 intervals. Don't worry, doing this will not make the intervals any less effective since you already did a weight workout beforehand, which also burns calories, reduces body fat, and revs up your metabolism. After weight training you will be in a more carb (glycogen) depleted state, which puts your body in prime position to burn body fat instead of carbs. And doing intervals right after weight training will not cause you to lose those hard earned muscles that you have developed. There is one exception to doing intervals after weight training and that is they shouldn't be done right after a leg workout. This is just too hard on the legs and therefore should be avoided.

Also, you should never do intervals right before weight training because it will zap some of your energy by depleting some of the glycogen stores in your muscles, which you need for a productive weight workout. Your muscles need to be fresh before a weight workout in order to achieve maximum muscle gain. Going straight into a weight workout right after cardio with your muscles in a low glycogen state will make the workout more difficult to get through and this will also be detrimental to muscle gain.

Doing intervals first thing in the morning on an empty stomach

But you might still ask, “What about doing intervals first thing in the morning on an empty stomach?” Here's my take on why this isn’t a good idea.