Running VS. Strength Training – Which one Should You Do First?

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

Do you go running first, then lift weight later?

Or is it the other way around?

Does the order really matter?

Just like anything else in life, there’s no such thing as the PERFECT answer.

But the short answer is: it really depends on your training goals and personal preferences.

For example, if your main goal to increase muscular strength and size, then lift weights first.

But if you’re looking to improve your aerobic endurance, then you prioritize running—and cardio training in general.

Why it’s the case? That’s where today’s post comes in handy.

Running VS. Strength Training – Which one Should You Do First?

In this article, I’ll delve into when you should run before strength training as well as the other way around.

When To Run Before Lifting Weights?

If your primary goal is to improve your endurance for an event such as a marathon, you’ll better off spending your energy on the miles.

To make the most out of your training, your body should be well-rested and recovered before hard runs, whether it’s long runs or interval sessions.

Lifting weights may compromise your muscle’s ability to contract optimally, which is key for any type of athletic movement—running is no exception.

That’s why running while still recovering from strength training-induced stress may prevent you from making the most out of your miles.

This can not only limit your performance but can also increase the risk of strain and overuse injuries in your muscles and joints.

Still, have to run after a strength workout?  Then, at the very least, keep your runs short and the intensity within 70 to 80 of your max.

Running As Warm-up

Even if you don’t have any specific running goals, jogging for 10 to 15 minutes before lifting weights can also serve as a warm-up. This helps ensure that your body ready for the intensity of the strength exercises.

Don’t take my word for it. Research out of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reported that subjects who performed a low-intensity warm-up for 15 minutes were able to lift more weight in a one-rep max than those who only warmed up for 5 minutes.

Additional resource – Jogging Vs running

When to Lift Weights Before Running?

If you’re looking to build muscle and increase your strength, then you should definitely lift weights before logging your miles.

Your body needs time to recover. While logging the miles increases endurance, it can get in the way of muscle building. Your focus and coordination will also be compromised, and you don’t want that.

Again, don’t take my word for it.

Research out of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked into an athlete who runs on the treadmill before lifting weights.

The researchers found that the subject reported a decrease in muscle power and eked out fewer reps compared to when they hit the strength room before running on the treadmill.

run or lift weights first

When You’re Looking To Lose Weights?

Both running and strength training work well for weight loss.

In general, running burns roughly 100 calories per mile.  Not only that, the more intense you run, the higher your metabolic rate, which is the minimum number of calories your body requires to perform everyday functions. This means you’ll be burning even more calories while at rest.

When you lift weights, you boost or maintain lean body mass, which will shed more calories in the long term.  The more muscles you build, the higher your resting metabolic rate

Additionally, the more intense your strength training—as well as the less you take for recovery in between exercises—the more EPOC you produce.

But which one should come first?

If you’re looking to lose weight or reduce body fat, it’s not really important which you perform first, but all in all, I’d recommend that you start with strength training just to avoid injury.

Strength training first may also drain your carb stores, forcing your body to gets its fuel main from fat rather than glycogen during your run.

Just keep in mind that you might “bonk” in the middle of the run, especially if it’s along with a distance session or hard interval workout.

What’s more?

Keep in mind that weight loss is a number’s game—calories in vs. calorie south. In other words, to slim down, you’ll have to create a negative energy balance.

Additional Resource – Your guide to weighted vests for running.

If You Want To Improve Your Overall Fitness

If you aren’t looking to build endurance, bulk up, or lose weight, then you can basically run or lift weight in whichever order that works the best for you, according to your lifestyle and schedule.

All that being said, I’d still urge you to set specific training goals.

That’s how you improve your athletic performance and overall health. The rest is just details, as the saying goes.

Additional resource – Should you be running after leg day?

Running VS. Strength Training – The Conclusion

In general, you should never run and lifts weights back-to-back. You’ll get the most out of your training in terms of endurance and strength when you give your body enough time to recover from each workout. The rest is just details.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime thank you for dropping by.

David D.

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