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Aerobic and Resistance, together or separate? Which should you do first?

A recent article published in ACSM's Health and Fitness Journal highlighted findings from several studies conducted examining the relationship of concurrent aerobic and resistance training and the adaptations, if any, that they may cause.

There are multiple methods of concurrent aerobic and resistance training. Four of these methods were researched in one or more of the accumulated studies. 1) Performing aerobic and resistance training simultaneously, 2) use a split mode format, running in the morning and resistance training in the evening, 3) during separate workouts on separate days and 4) during specific training cycles.

What is simultaneous training?
Is when aerobic and resistance training bouts are performed consecutively. Aerobic first, then resistance or vice versa.  Another mode of simultaneous training is when the individual performs a brief bout of aerobic work (45-60 seconds) and then performs a set of resistance training for 8-10 repetitions and repeats this process through the entire workout.

Concurrent training has the potential to bring about both cardiovascular adaptations as well as muscular adaptations.  Concurrent training must be set up properly and monitored to prevent fatigue and over training.  The program should be prioritized based on individual performance goals. 

Does is matter which bout you perform first during simultaneous bouts?  
Performing either order will bring about both types of adaptations.  If you top priority for training is endurance, then the logical order would be to perform aerobic bouts first, however improvements in endurance can still be made post resistance training. 

Aerobic Training first?
This mode of training brings about greater cardiovascular changes and reduced the occurrence of DOMS, most likely from the increase blood flow from the previous bout of aerobic exercise.  A drawback from aerobic training first, is that it may reduce the body's ability to perform work due to the accumulation of fatigue from the extended aerobic bout.

Resistance Training first?
This mode of training brings about larger gains in power, strength and hypertrophy which similar gains in cardiovascular fitness as the aerobic first group.  In addition to larger anaerobic gains, the resistance first group showed greater fat utilization and energy expenditure during the proceeding aerobic bouts.

A closer look at the results-
Performing aerobic exercise first can help in developing maximal aerobic power.  It also increases post exercise energy expenditure.  Performing resistance training first shows greater skeletal muscle improvements and increased metabolic activity post bout.

Utilizing a training split can help increase performance during training bouts as long as there is ample recovery time in between.

As with split training, training on separate days can negate the benefits of combining training.

Uses training cycles may help improvements in specific training areas but again, separate training eliminates the benefits of combined training.

Regardless of the type of workout performed, you have to make your workouts work for you.  You should have a designed training plan that incorporates you personal fitness goals with the type of desired training being performed and your life's schedule for optimal results.

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