When Is The Best Time to Do Cardio?

In a Nutshell: The best time to do cardio for muscle growth and strength is after strength training, preferably in the afternoon.

Key Takeaways

  • Cardio exercises after strength training, preferably in the afternoon, may slightly enhance muscle growth.
  • Doing cardio on a separate day from strength training could lead to better hypertrophy, particularly for beginners.
  • The impact of cardio timing might vary for trained individuals and with different exercises.

Best Time to Do Cardio

The fitness and strength training landscape is constantly evolving, with ongoing debates about the best time for cardiovascular workouts.

Dr. Layne Norton, a renowned figure with a PhD in nutritional science and a record as a four-time powerlifting national champion, delved into this topic. 

He discussed a new study that examines how cardio timing affects muscle growth, offering invaluable insights for those aiming to enhance their strength and muscle development.

In-Depth Analysis of Cardio Timing

Dr. Norton, a respected author and authority in his field, referred to a study reviewed in MASS that investigated the impact of cardio timing on muscle growth and strength. 

The study concluded that performing cardiovascular exercises after strength training, preferably in the afternoon, seems to be slightly more effective for muscle growth. 

This revelation sparked another intriguing question: would the best time for performing cardio be on a different day entirely?

The Impact of Cardio Timing

A recent study involving untrained men sought to answer this. The participants engaged in bicep curls and cardio workouts twice a week over eight weeks, with variations in the timing of these exercises. 

Some participants performed both on the same day, while others spaced them out. Dr. Norton shared, “The groups showed similar strength gains, but those doing cardio on a separate day experienced better hypertrophy.”

Dr. Norton’s Cautious Approach

However, Dr. Norton advises caution in interpreting these results. He pointed out, “These were untrained men focusing solely on bicep curls,” suggesting that outcomes might vary for trained individuals or with different exercises. 

He stressed the importance of further research, particularly regarding how different cardio modalities and intensities, as well as specific resistance exercises, might influence these results.

Strength Training

Dr. Norton’s analysis indicates that while cardio can interfere with strength training, this effect can be minimized by scheduling cardio sessions post-strength training or on different days. 

However, he cautions against over-relying on these findings, noting that the study didn’t compare cardio post-training on the same day versus on separate days.

He also pointed out several unanswered questions in concurrent training, such as the impact of various cardio types (e.g., lower body vs. upper body) on trained individuals. 

“More research is needed to definitively determine the optimal setup for cardio and weight training,” Dr. Norton emphasized.

Balancing Cardio

Dr. Layne Norton’s insights provide a nuanced perspective on the best timing for cardio to maximize strength and muscle growth

The recent study suggests that performing cardio on a separate day might be more beneficial for hypertrophy, especially in untrained individuals. 

However, numerous factors need consideration. As Dr. Norton aptly states, the fitness community is gradually understanding the intricate relationship between cardio and strength training, but further research is crucial for clear guidelines. 

For now, individuals should tailor their cardio schedule based on their training level and objectives, remembering that fitness is a highly individualized journey.

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