OT - Workout advice

Submitted by MaizeNBlue on April 14th, 2010 at 1:12 AM

So, on week days I try to run and lift during the same hour each day. Usually, I run 3-4 miles, which I'm pretty used to running. Lately I've been trying to add significant upper body strength and I was wondering if it was better to run before lifting, or vice versa. I Google-searched some results, but most of them were mixed 50-50.

I have noticed that when I lift first, I'm capable of lifting better and I can run just as well when tired (logically). The problem is, I don't want to lose everything I gain lifting if I decide to run afterwards. It'd also be very preferable if both could be done in the same workout. Any advice would be much appreciated!

EDIT: the main reason I decided to post this here is because I know there are a couple Kinese people out there who probably know better than random internet Joe



April 14th, 2010 at 1:27 AM ^

Its tough to do both one after the other either way and get the benefits you are looking for. If you lift first then run, you are missing out on a key recovery time for your muscles from lifting. Once you exhaust them they need fuel to recharge and grow, not more stress. If you run first, then you will never be able to lift to your potential and push your muscles to grow.

You dont make gains in muscle while lifting, you make them during the recovery period afterwards (not just immediately after but days). But immediately after you have exhausted your muscles is key to put good fuel into your body so that the body has nutrients to use instead of eating away at itself. I always space out my cardio from my lifting (i.e. morning run, night lift). But sometimes I will do light running beforehand or after but never anything that takes too long or forces me to exert a lot of energy.

If you are just trying to add strength, then mixing them shouldnt hurt too much. You won't see a lot of growth but you will get stronger, just at a slower rate than if you spaced them more appropriately. If you are trying to bulk up though, you should really consider cutting back on running altogether. Lift hard, get some protein immediately afterward and make sure you are resting plenty.

I recently wanted to bulk up, and I put on about ten pounds over about a month and a half by lifting monday, tuesday. Taking off wednesday and thursday. Lifting Friday, saturday and running only on sunday.

Everybody is different though and different workouts will work for different people. The key is finding what works best for you and you can only do that through experimenting. But again, if the goal is to add muscle and strength, I would say focus more on your lifting and the rest time then on running.

One more side note, I have heard that P90x program is pretty solid if you are just looking to get kinda stronger and cut. But its not gonna give you big gains in muscle mass.


April 14th, 2010 at 1:34 AM ^

I'm only an avg. Joe but being in a similar situation (endurance and strength chaining together) I'd suggest running after. You always want to be at your strongest when hitting a particular muscle group with weights. The general rule of thumb is to target the group you're concentrating on most, first. Also, if you really want to see results with your upper body program you need to eat 5-6 meals a day that are high in protein and low in fat. After you're lift eat something that won't ruin your stomach like oatmeal and a banana so you don't burn off all your excess protein during your run and waste the lift. I've also found a hard mile to go better with strength chaining, as composed to a long run. That way when your done with your mile you can run sprints=quick results in your legs. I know I'm probably not much help but this "general info." has helped me significantly.

Hard Gay

April 14th, 2010 at 3:42 AM ^

From a strength training perspective, curls and any isolation exercise for that matter are pretty useless. If functional strength is your goal, you should do compound exercises, which activate multiple joints and muscle groups at once. Things like squats, deadlifts, benchpress, pullups.

Squats and deadlifts might be primarily lower body exercises, but they also provides benefits to the upper body as well. They both use so many muscles and release a ridiculous amount of testosterone and GH.

I would suggest to base your lifting routine around squats, deadlifts, bench, pullups, and dips, if you really want you can supplement this routine with other compound or some isolation exercises, but you really don't need to be doing too many different exercises in one day. Just my epinion.


April 14th, 2010 at 8:39 AM ^

If you don't know how to do power cleans properly then don't do them. They are a very complicated exercise that not many people actually know how to do properly, especially high school football coaches. It's a movement that if done incorrectly with too much weight really puts a lot of stress on the lower back. Only do these if you have someone that can teach you how to do them properly. Many personal trainers are limited on knowledge of proper clean, snatch and jerk technique so look for them to have their USA Weightlifting certification to teach you them exercise.

Big Brown Jug

April 14th, 2010 at 1:59 AM ^

I suggest the weights before the cardio, if for no other reason that your don't sweat your ass off on the benches and machines. But seriously, I find that if I lift, I can't run well, and if I run I can't lift well. Unless you're training for something specific, I suggest you alternate cardio and lifting days and take one day off for rest in a 7 day week. If you keep your 3-4 mile routine and challenge yourself on the weights, you'll be ripped in no time.


April 14th, 2010 at 2:30 AM ^

who took a physiology class (and we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night? No, but I wish).

If you remember the Brady Quinn commercials for some post-workout drink, what they centered their marketing scheme around (besides Quinn's dashing handsomeness) was that their drink was perfect for the 30 minutes right after cardio or lifting. According to the gf, the 30 minute window is real because past that point your body will use current muscle to regain the energy it needs to run. That is, you can lose muscle mass by lifting.

Barwis has his trainees drink chocolate milk during that 30 minute window (real animal proteins in the milk are slightly more "effective" than added plant proteins in the Quinn shake, chocolate instead of white because you need to replace some blood sugar). The Quinn shake is glorified chocolate milk anyway.

If you really want to go same day (not my favorite but whatever), maybe you run first, drink half of your allotted chocolate milk, and then lift (assuming that you're more likely to toss cookies running than lifting), and then finish your milk.

On days that you do those several-mile runs, try to eat maybe 60% carbs (pasta/oatmeal/whatever an hour or two before running), but on days with less endurance, you don't necessarily need as much as most people seem to eat. Stick to lean meat.

Again, this is second hand from a non-kinesiology major. (And sorry for all the parentheses, too tired to write better.)

Les Miles

April 14th, 2010 at 4:22 AM ^

Let's say I made a bet with my roommate that I would lose the most weight by May 15th. What would be the most productive way of doing this? I honestly don't care too much about how healthy the methods are, although I refuse to take diet pills or develop any eating disorders... So for you wrestlers out there I'd appreciate any advice besides "Run Forever". Thanks


April 14th, 2010 at 8:53 AM ^

Run, lift and each lean foods. You should keep reps around 6-8 reps. 10-12 reps would be too much because you're working in hypertrophy (increase in muscle fiber size). Do all that during the week and take the weekends off for your body to recover.


April 14th, 2010 at 9:14 AM ^

The best way to lose weight is to limit caloric intake.

Obviously it's important to be reasonable about the limitations. I weigh about 175 and if I want to lose weight, I cut to about a 1500 calorie diet (a little under, and also try to limit fat and increase fiber but calories are generally the most important) and lose about a pound a week. If you weigh more, you can eat more, less-less. Women also get correspondingly fewer calories. I actually follow the weight-watchers points system but it's a little simpler to just track calories.

EDIT: Just to clarify, this is the best way to lose weight over time (though it normally starts off with losing 3-5 pounds the first week, but most diets do that). If you want to lose weight quickly, do this along with working out; it's important to not just focus on working out--many people work out to lose weight and then eat enough additional calories to offset most/all of the weightloss.


April 14th, 2010 at 5:06 AM ^

I asked a personal trainer at my gym this very question.

If your goal isn't to train for being a distance runner (and I'm assuming it's not), then you should be doing interval training, not long bouts of cardio.

Interval training is a better way to build muscle. Do 20 minutes of jogging/elliptical/bike/whatever. Jog for 2 minutes and then sprint for 1 minute. You get the cardio done quicker and it burns more calories because you're working your type 2 muscle fibers during sprints, much like weightlifting.

FWIW, my weightlifting routine includes:

DAY 1 - upper body lifts (curls, bench press, pullups, rows, etc.)

DAY 2 - lower body lifts (squats, calf raises, single leg squats, lunges, side lunges, etc.)

DAY 3 - cardio (intervals rotating between treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike)

I'm not saying this is the only way, but I've added a fair amount of strength in the couple months that I've been doing this routine. I just keep it fresh by switching up the reps (and, therefore, the weight) every month.

Maize and Blue…

April 14th, 2010 at 8:10 AM ^

and went from 14.5% body fat to 6% in three months. I started every morning with 30 minutes on the stationary bike. Had a bowl of oatmeal and went to the gym. Three day routine done twice a week. Day 1- chest and back. Day 2- bis and tris. Day 3- legs. Repeat and then take Sunday off. I ate 6 times a day usually chicken and lean meat with some pasta, veggies, and fruit. I cut out bread almost totally and cut way down on spuds. Sunday was my free day and I didn't limit what I ate just did it in moderation.
Cardio was done at least three times a week usually on an elliptical and after lifting. I'd have a supplemental shake and do some ab work before doing the cardio which generally started 45 minutes to an hour after lifting for recovery. It was generally inteval style training going fast and furious then backing off before picking it up again.
I hope this is of some help.

All Day

April 14th, 2010 at 10:25 AM ^

Along the lines of everyone is different...

There is evidence that working the "push" and the "pull" muscles the same day yields positive results. That way you get the concentric and eccentric benefits for each muscle group.

I try to mix it up in this way: on chest days I'll do a set of dips to failure, or mix in some chin-up/curl supersets on my shoulder/back day, but then I still have a heavy arm day.


April 14th, 2010 at 5:12 AM ^

where you'll find as much contradictory information.

For me, it's more of a safety issue. Lifting weights when you're tired might be more dangerous.

Good luck to you. Trying to find any good information about working out is a crap shoot.


April 14th, 2010 at 5:12 AM ^

U should try and separate them. But if you cant than try both and see what feels better for you. Everybody is different and reacts different so experiment a lil and see what works for you.
If you want to go into more details than you have to enlist a lot of details. How long have you been training? What are your goals? Whats your diet like? Details of your program etc????


April 14th, 2010 at 5:46 AM ^

Tony Horton is a 2010 Dorian Grey. Challenging but tremendous payoff. Also examine the power of organic food, juicing, how a vegan diet can change your life and finally check out the movie Food Inc for inspiration. It has taken me 18 months to process the change in lifestyle but it has been well worth it.


April 14th, 2010 at 6:33 AM ^

well, i am going to take almost the complete opposite from everyone else on this board. I am a pretty experienced runner and have been fortunate enough to train with several well respected cross country coaches around the state of michigan. You should do your running before the lifting and here is why, you need to WARM up your muscles to prevent injury. No, stretching does not count as warming up. Stretching works best when blood is flowing drastically through your muscles. If you try to stretch at a resting state, not having had warmed up, your muscles can not stretch as much. The reason why running is such a great way to warm up is because instead of ripping the muscles like sprinting or heavy lifting does it loosens up the muscles and prevents the massive ripping from happening as fast. This only works though if you dont run too much. what is too much? that is going to depend on you. If your max miles is 4-5 then a warm up run would be something like 1-2 miles. If you run more than 1-2 then you are going to start this ripping process that you want the lifting process to do. Also stretching after your work out will allow your muscles to rebuild more efficiently than to not stretch at all.


April 14th, 2010 at 7:03 AM ^

You definitely need to warm up your muscles. I assumed that was a gimme, but I usually do 10 minutes of light cardio prior to lifting and 10 minutes of intervals after lifting. I should stretch more often than I do, but every trainer everywhere will tell you to stretch after lifting.


April 14th, 2010 at 9:58 AM ^

I agree completly. Lifting when your muscles are already warm - after 10min of moderate cardio - is incredibly effective and feels just plain awesome. You'll have no stiffness, full range of motion, and reduced chance of injury.

Trade off your long-distance cardio days with shorter, moderate cardio and lifting days. You'll love the way it feels.

Also agree with previous posters that static lifting (bicep curls, etc) is a waste of time. Even a simple push-up works your arms, as well as your core stabilizing muscles, and all in one. If you're looking to take it up a notch, try a kettleball.


April 14th, 2010 at 7:01 AM ^

trying just about every variation out there for lifting and cardio.
Nine months ago, a friend introduced me to crossfit.com which basically threw out most of the principles that I'd understood to be "fact" - including when to run, how to lift, etc.

In a nutshell, this system focuses on compound exercises, confusion, and competition. You never know what each day will bring until you visit the site and see the workout of the day. And the best part is it adds an element of competition to everything you do. Your workouts are measured by the time it takes you to complete and/or the reps you complete in a given time frame.
Just the warmup itself, which is dips, pullups, squats, situps, and back extensions, gets your body in gear every day.

I now create a modified version of a crossfit workout every day I can instead of following the site, but I can tell you that no program had ever given me the positive effects of this. I wish I had discovered it in my twentys.


April 14th, 2010 at 8:22 AM ^

listen to this guy, too


Whenever I see someone describe their routine and it goes something like, "bench, curls, forearm curls" I direct them here:


No offense, but you need to start here and get a solid base.

Do starting strength and then move on to crossfit.


April 14th, 2010 at 8:26 AM ^

Do you want to look like a sprinter or a distance runner? If you want to look more like a sprinter you should be doing sprints/short interval training before lifting weights. Also, a workout should only take about an hour and a half to complete (even for a professional atlhete).

If you're looking to stay lean like a distance runner then you should be running distance but you will have a tough time putting on any size. You should also be lifting after running for distance. Also, eating after a workout is more important than eating after a lift. Either way your body is going through physiological changes post-workout not post-lift.

As for the warm up, it shouldn't just consist of 10 minutes of distance running. It should consist of 10 minutes of different dynamic movements. The dynamic movements should effectively stretch the muscle and make in contract and stretch while moving. This prepares the muscles for more explosive and stronger contractions and coordination/balance while running/lifting. Static stretching should be done as a cool down to increase flexibility and try to limit lactic acid build up.


April 14th, 2010 at 9:32 AM ^

You shouldn't do serious cardio before lifting. Your body will use up the energy you need to make serious gains while you're lifting. Drink a protein shake 30 min to an hour before you go to the gym. Do 5-10 minutes of cardio just to get your blood flowing, and then lift.


April 14th, 2010 at 9:52 AM ^

I disagree with that statement and here is way. When you're doing serious "cardio" which I'm assuming is distance running you are using stored fat because you are utilizing your oxidation energy system. While you are lifting you are utilizing carbohydrates because you are using your PCr system. The only time you burn protein is when your body doesn't have enough fat or carbohydrates to burn. You will gain strenght no matter when you lift. Just make sure you consistently do the same thing


April 14th, 2010 at 10:01 AM ^

Not true, your body starts to burn muscle after the 30 minute mark. It burns short term energy reserves until depleted, then it burns stored fat until your reach about 30 minutes or 3-4 miles. Then muscle, which is much higher in calories and energy, begins to burn.


April 14th, 2010 at 10:43 AM ^

False! Check out any physiology or nutrition book. I'm not talking magazine, I'm talking book. Muscle (Protein) is NEVER a primary energy source and is NOT the highest in calories. Fats are actually the highest in calories with 9 per gram while protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram. Fat is the primary energy used in exercise exceeding 5 minutes unless there is no more fat to be used and then the body uses protein (muscle) as fuel. That is the reason distance runners are so small when it comes to muscular size.


April 14th, 2010 at 11:06 AM ^

Fine, maybe I'm wrong on what exactly the body is burning. I was not stating an opinion, but rather repeating what I have read as fact (yes from magazines as opposed to your textbook). All I can say is that the more cardio I do, the smaller my muscles become, and all significant gains are nulified. Take it for what its worth. I've been lifting for 15 years, so I'll take what info my body is giving me over your textbook any day.


April 14th, 2010 at 10:11 AM ^

It's funny actually, this specific issue is in the new Muscle and Fitness. Just go pick it up. Great magazine by the way, I would recommend it to anybody. Also, one of the most important, and most overlooked, things concerning any sort of fitness is stretching. As long as you're consistent with stretching everything should be fine no matter what your routine is. There's always a few ways to skin a cat.