When it comes to the question of should you do cardio after leg day, like most things in fitness, there is no definitive answer. However, there are benefits to both doing cardio before or after weight training, or even waiting until the next day. In this article, we’ll explore both sides of the argument.

Should You Do Cardio After Leg Day

What Exactly Is Leg Day?

For the uninitiated, leg day refers to the workout routine dedicated to training the muscles in the legs. This usually includes exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges.

While some people may associate leg day with pain and suffering, it’s crucial for developing a well-rounded body and can be a fun and challenging workout.

Should You Do Cardio After Leg Day?

For years, fitness experts have debated the best order in which to do different types of exercise. Some say it’s better to do cardio first thing in the morning, while others argue that weightlifting should be prioritized.

Regarding leg day, however, there seems to be a consensus: cardio should come afterward. The reasoning is that when you do cardio before lifting weights, your legs will fatigue more quickly, and you won’t be able to work them as hard.

Additionally, doing cardio after lifting weights ensures that your muscles have had a chance to recover slightly, which can help reduce the risk of injury. So if you’re wondering whether you should hit the treadmill before or after leg day, the answer is clear: save your cardio for last.

3 Ways To Do Cardio After Leg Day

There are a few different ways you can do cardio after leg day:

  1. You can do a short, intense cardio workout. This could be like sprinting for 30 seconds, then walking for 1 minute. Repeat this for 10-15 minutes (some would call this HIIT). 
  2. You can do a more extended, steady-state cardio workout. This could be like jogging or biking at a moderate pace for 30-60 minutes.
  3. You can do a combination of both short, intense cardio and longer, moderate cardio. This could be like sprinting for 30 seconds, then jogging for 1 minute. Repeat this for 10-15 minutes.

Whichever way you choose to do it, doing some form of cardio after leg day is a great way to improve your endurance, cardiovascular health, and calorie-burning.

Benefits Of Doing Cardio After Leg Day

There are several benefits to doing cardio after leg day. Below are the benefits of doing cardio post-leg day:

  1. It can help you burn more fat.

Doing cardio after leg day can help you burn more fat because you’ll be packing more exercise into the same day, and therefore burning more calories. This is especially true if you do HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio, which is a very effective way to burn fat.

Remember that you won’t be able to lift as heavy weights if you’re tired from doing cardio, so don’t expect to set any new personal records.

  1. It can improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Doing cardio after leg day can also help improve your cardiovascular fitness. This is because you’ll work your heart and lungs harder as you try to keep up with the exercise pace. 

In other words, cardio after leg day can help you better prepare for cardiovascular exercise on other days.

  1. It can speed up your recovery.

Doing cardio after leg day can help speed up your recovery. This is because the cardio will help flush out the lactic acid that builds up in your muscles during exercise. 

Thus, doing some cardio after leg day can help you feel less sore the next day.

You can also try these tips to recover quickly from leg day:

  1. Get enough sleep.
  2. Eat a nutritious diet.
  3. Drink plenty of fluids.
  4. Do some light stretching or foam rolling.
  5. Take an ice bath (if you can handle it!).
  6. Use a leg massage tool.
  7. Wear compression socks or garments.
  8. Invest in a good pair of shoes.
  9. Use the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation).
  10. Try active recovery methods like yoga or swimming.
  11. It can boost your energy levels.

Doing cardio after leg day can also help boost your energy levels. This is because the endorphins released during exercise can give you a natural energy boost.

But before you go overboard with the cardio, remember that too much exercise can lead to fatigue and burnout. So make sure to listen to your body and take breaks when needed.

Waiting Until The Next Day To Do Cardio

There are also benefits to waiting until the next day to do cardio. This is because you’ll give your legs a chance to recover and be fresh for your next leg workout. 

  1. You’ll be fresher: If you wait until the next day to do cardio, you’ll be fresher, and you’ll be able to work harder. This is because your legs will have had a chance to recover from the leg day workout.
  1. You’ll be able to focus more on cardio: If you wait until the next day to do cardio, you’ll be able to focus more on the cardio and less on the legs. This is because you won’t be as tired, and you’ll be able to push yourself.
  1. You can do a longer workout: If you wait until the next day to do cardio, you can do a longer workout. Again, this is because you’ll have more energy and won’t be as tired.
  1. You can focus on quality over quantity: If you wait until the next day to do cardio, you can focus on quality over quantity. This is because you’ll be able to give it your all without worrying about your legs being too tired.

What Does the Science Say About Cardio After Leg Day?

A study published in 2013 in the International Journal of Sport and Health Science details the effects of running the same day and the following day after doing strength training.

The study concludes that the performance of runners was impaired for up to 6 hours after strength training and also doing a combination of strength training and cardio on the same day reduces your cardio exercise performance the following day due to the accumulation of fatigue.

Conclusion

Whether to do cardio after leg day or wait until the next day depends on your fitness goals and how your body responds to exercise; if you’re trying to prioritize burning fat, doing cardio after leg day can be beneficial. However, if you’re looking to focus more on cardio performance and do a longer workout, then waiting until the next day might be a better option.

Ultimately, it’s up to you and what works best for your body. Experimentation is key to finding what works best for you. So try out both options and see what works better for you.

About the Author: Zoe Taylor

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Zoe Taylor has a degree in Sports and Exercise Science and is an avid runner and fitness writer. Zoe works with BodyCapable by researching and writing cardio-related content. In her spare time, Zoe runs marathons, keeps up to date with the latest fitness trends, and enjoys walking her dog!