Fitness & Wellness Corner – August 2018

Which comes first- resistance exercise or aerobic exercise in concurrent training? Maegen C. Stoner, Director, Fitness and Wellness

A few helpful definitions: Aerobic Exercise- the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines aerobic or cardiovascular exercise as any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature. A few examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, hiking, stair climbing, rope jumping, cross-country skiing, skating, rowing, and dancing (The Exercise and Physical Fitness Page, 2018). Resistance Exercise- exercise in which a muscle contraction is opposed by a force to increase strength or endurance (The Medical Dictionary, 2018). Benefits of resistance exercises include increases in strength, muscle mass, and bone density. Properly performed resistance training has a positive impact on the entire musculoskeletal system (ACE, 2014, p. 326). Concurrent Training- the sequential training of both aerobic/cardiovascular and resistance exercises during the same training session or within hours of one another (Kravitz, 2018).

Aerobic exercise and resistance training are the two most utilized and common modalities chosen when engaging in physical activity. Aerobic exercise is effective in improving one’s cardiorespiratory fitness (hence the term “cardio”), energy expenditure, and fat utilization. Resistance exercise or training serves to improve the musculoskeletal system by gains in muscle size, strength, endurance, and power. “It is recommended that a comprehensive training routine combines both aerobic exercise and resistance exercise because improvements in both cardiorespiratory function and musculoskeletal function allow individuals not only to reduce health risks and symptoms associated with physical inactivity but also perform activities of daily living” (Kang, 2014, p.9).

“Concurrent training of either resistance training before aerobic training or aerobic training before resistance training can elicit both aerobic and anaerobic adaptations simultaneously provided that the training program is carefully designed” (Kang, 2014, p.13) .  There are some unique advantages associated with the sequence of the training elements. For example, research has shown that performing aerobic exercise first helps develop maximal aerobic power and that it can enhance post-exercise energy expenditure. It is important to note that engaging in a session of high intensity or long duration aerobic exercise may compromise the quality of the following resistance exercise component (Kang, 2014, p.11).

On the other hand, resistance training is favored when looking to develop strength, power, and muscle hypertrophy.  This sequence of training may be of particular interest to those whose sport demand strength and power. The resistance training before aerobic exercise modality can yield some metabolic benefits and the “high intensity nature of resistance training can potentiate energy expenditure and create a metabolic environment that favors fat utilization during a subsequent aerobic exercise session” (Kang, 2014, p. 12).

“It is recommended that a comprehensive training routine combines both aerobic exercise and resistance exercise because improvements in both cardiorespiratory function and musculoskeletal function allow individuals not only to reduce health risks and symptoms associated with physical inactivity but also perform activities of daily living”

So I’m sure you’re wondering what’s the answer? This is a question that we receive frequently. While there are several factors to consider when designing and implementing a program, it really just depends on what your fitness goals or desired outcomes are for the order in which you perform concurrent training. There is no right or wrong answer or that one way is significantly better than the other, it is simply dictated by your overall goal, whether that be aerobic power, strength or power gains, endurance training, etc.. Choosing aerobic exercise or resistance exercise first ensures the quality of the training segment based on your set of goals.

The overall design of concurrent training should consider a few variables; “exercise selection and sequence, intensity and volume, frequency, repetition velocity, and rest intervals” (Kang, 2014, p.12). These considerations should be based on goals, expected outcomes, and the training status of the individual.  It is recommended for healthy individuals to engage in moderate intensity exercise coupled with moderate volume for both modes of exercise regardless of sequence order. Concurrent training may be administered 3 to 4 times a week on nonconsecutive days to maximize recovery in-between workouts. The two exercise sections may additionally be separated by a rest period of 5-10 minutes (Kang, 2014, p.13).  It is also important to note that “concurrent training seems to produce little to no “interference” in older individuals. In fact, a combination of aerobic training and resistance training is recommended for the elderly as an effective strategy to maintain functional capacity and promote health” (Kang, 2014, p.10).

There are both aerobic and anaerobic benefits to utilizing the concurrent training method of aerobic and resistance exercise when engaging in physical activity. An individual’s fitness or exercise goals and training status typically determine the exercise sequence and intensity in which the training regimens are performed. Individuals seeking to improve cardio power or endurance training may consider pursuing the aerobic-first sequence. Individuals who are involved in sports or events that demand strength and power or are training for hypertrophy may choose the resistance-first sequence.

If you are interested in working with a Yates Certified Personal Trainer to design an exercise program that best fits your needs, please contact Maegen C. Stoner, Director of Fitness & Wellness: mch249@georgetown.edu

References:

Aerobic Exercise [Def, 1]. (n.d.). In Aerobic Exercise, The Exercise and Physical Fitness Page. Retrieved July 24, 2018 from http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwfit/aerobice.html.

American Council on Exercise. (2014). Resistance Training: Programming and Progressions. In C. Bryant, S. Jo, & D. Green (Eds.) Personal Trainer Manual (pp. 326-390). American Council on Exercise: USA.

Kang, Jie. (2014) Which comes first? Resistance before Aerobic Exercise or Vice Versa? ACSM Health & Fitness Journal,18(1), 9-14. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2014/01000/Which_Comes_First__Resistance_Before_Aerobic.5.aspx?WT.mc_id=HPxADx20100319xMP.

Kravitz, Len. The Effect of Concurrent Training. Retrieved from https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/concurrent.html.

Resistance Exercise [Def.2]. (n.d.) In The Medical Dictionary. Retrieved July 24, 2018, from https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/resistance+exercise.

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This blog post was written to provide educational information only. This article should not be used as a substitute or a replacement for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions or concerns about your personal health, you should always consult with your physician. It is recommended that you consult with your physician or health care professional before beginning any fitness regimen to determine if it is suitable for your needs. The use of any information provided by this article is solely at your risk.