How to best benefit your body:

How to best benefit your body: do cardio before weight training

There is a common thought that you should do your cardio after you’ve finished your weights session at the gym… If we asked around in the gym, I’m sure that would be the resounding conclusion.

How to best benefit your body:

However, a recent research study shows that you should actually be doing your cardio BEFORE you lift weights to gain the best benefit.

It’s all about balancing two enzymes (Adenosine monophosphate – activated protein kinase [AMPK], and mTOR, which you may have read on the back of supplements’ containers).

You should:

a) Do your cardio or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) before your resistance training to maximise the mTOR, and minimise the AMPK.

b) Split your workout into morning cardio and evening weights, or if you want to do evening cardio, make sure there is at least a 6-hour break between.


During your cardio session, an enzyme known as AMPK is released. It is stimulated by muscle contraction, and most notably (and most well researched), HIIT. AMPK helps the body to make several adjustments to exercise by encouraging the body to build more mitochondria (powerhouse of the cell) to process more energy for you to use.

After a weights session, an enzyme known as mTOR is released. It’s the enzyme which ‘turns on’ the muscle building process after a workout. Because we want to build lean muscle and reduce body fat, we want to maximise mTOR. However, what most people don’t know is that AMPK production kills off mTOR.

So, it makes absolutely no sense to finish a tough resistance workout and then jump on an exercise bike and do an hour of cardio! Production of mTOR lasts for up to six hours and we really want to get the most from this prolonged muscle building period, so it’s smart to split your workout into 2 sessions, or to do the cardio before you start lifting (or, since most cardio is legs-based, just avoid cardio on legs day).

This article originally featured on the Get The Edge blog. 

The author is the founder of the ‘magic’ PhysioEdge magnesium massage gel, designed for muscle performance and recovery (