Yet another reason to do cardio AFTER weights and NOT before

In gyms all over the world there is still a huge debate over whether it’s best to do cardio before or after weight training.

If you ask me, unless you are an endurance athlete, it is best to lift weights first and then do cardio after and not the other way around. There are many reasons for this. For starters, there’s the simple fact that you want to save your energy for weight lifting so that you can train with greater strength, endurance, and intensity for best results. And research supports this philosophy.  

Research also suggests that doing cardio after weights may help you burn more fat and even build more muscle. And now new research from Australia finds yet another reason to not do cardio before weights…

An increased risk of back injuries!

The researchers measured the height and volume of subjects’ intervertebral discs (spinal discs) before and after 30 minutes of moderate-intensity running on a treadmill. They discovered that after the run…

Spinal disc height and volume were decreased by about 7%!

Take-home message:

The researchers suggested that this can decrease the load-carrying capacity of the spine. In other words, if you lift a heavy enough weight while your disc volume is reduced, you could be at a higher risk for a back injury. So keep the cardio work for after you hit the weights. Not only will this allow you to lift heavier and more intensely, build more muscle and burn more fat, but it can also help you to prevent a back injury.


Kingsley, M. I., et al. Moderate-Intensity Running Causes Intervertebral Disc Compression in Young Adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. In press, 2012.