Order of Exercise Categories

There is some controversy around the “correct” order of exercises. So, I will share what I’ve learned through the years and why I recommend this order.

Start with a gentle cardio warm-up. This is usually a slower version of the activity you’re about to do. This loosens up your body and gets more blood to the muscles, ligaments, heart, and nervous system so you’re ready for cardio.

Move into the cardiorespiratory portion of your exercise.

Cool down a bit. This lets the blood vessels come back to normal size so that blood doesn’t pool in your lower extremities when you finally stand still.

Move to strength training. Your muscles and connective tissue are warm. They also may be a bit tired, but that’s ok. If you did strength training before cardio, your muscles would not be as warm and you’d be more prone to injury. Furthermore, strength training before cardio would mean you’re really fatigued going into the cardio and that can increase injuries, too.

Now it’s time for stretching and balance exercises. I like to do standing stretches and balance exercises first to avoid lightheadedness with getting up and down multiple times. I hold stretches for 30 seconds, easing into a deeper stretch with each breath. I like to say that the first 10 seconds are your muscles fighting you, the next ten they are actually stretching, and the last 10 helps to lock in the new length. As with strength training, stretching at this point gives you the advantage of the tissues being really warm. Stretching after strength training also means that the muscles are too tired to fight you as much, haha!

Stay safe and keep moving!