We have a lot to squeeze into our weekly workouts: cardio, flexibility, strength, and even neuromotor exercises. If you’re doing several of these exercise forms in one day, what should you do first? Does the order matter? ACE-sponsored research says ‘yes’!
Researchers studied 24 healthy men and women who regularly exercised. They each performed 24 workouts with a 48-hour rest period between workouts. Researchers put together different combinations of the 4 exercise types mentioned above to see which order led to optimal performance.
- 30-minute treadmill workout
- 5 minute warm-up and cool-down + 20 minutes walking at 50-60% of heart rate reserve
- Bench press, lat pull-downs, triceps pull-downs, biceps curls, squats, knee extension, knee flexion, and calf raises
- 2 sets of 12 reps (weight = 60% one-rep maximum)
- Lying gluteal stretch, standing quadriceps stretch, hip flexor stretch, lying hamstring stretch, standing calf stretch, chest stretch, triceps stretch and shoulder stretch
- Stretch to point of mild discomfort
- Hold for 20 seconds
- One set for each side of the body
- 5-10-5 shuttle run, hexagonal agility test, and single-leg squat test
- 90 seconds of rest between each exercise
The results? The order matters when doing all 4 exercise types in one session! First and foremost, researchers found heart rate increased when cardio was performed at the end of the workout. This can cause adverse effects including increased drop out rates, injuries, or heart issues. Therefore, researchers suggest performing cardio first to achieve desired heart rate goals.
Participants reported their “perceived exertion” increased when strength training was done at the end of a session (3rd or 4th), therefore researchers suggest performing strength work 2nd, after cardio.
The order of flexibility and neuromotor training didn’t matter so they can be performed 3rd or 4th after cardio and strength.
When including various exercises in one workout, keep this order in mind for optimal results!