When Is the Best Time for Cardio?

There is no magical, universal time of the day for cardio, but there are optimal times based on your individual lifestyle.
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There is no magical, universal time of the day for cardio, but there are optimal times based on your individual lifestyle.

Wondering what the best time of day is to do cardio? The answer is precisely 10:53 a.m. Just kidding. If you were hoping for a one-size-fits-all answer to this long-standing and highly debated question, you’re out of luck. You see, there is no magical, universal time of the day for cardio. But there are optimal times based on your individual lifestyle.

“Everyone is different, so many factors play a role in when someone should do cardio,” says Sofia Rodriguez, also known as “SoFITfia,” a bilingual certified personal trainer with a master’s degree in clinical exercise physiology. “These internal and external factors can include lifestyle, work schedule, gym availability, weather, time of year and family schedule, just to name a few.”

Rodriguez shares her philosophy on the benefits and pitfalls of various time slots:

Another important cardio consideration is when to incorporate strength training — before or after? “In general, doing your cardio after weightlifting is more beneficial, especially if you are specifically training legs, because you want to conserve your energy and glycogen stores on the lifting portion when using the same muscle groups,” Rodriguez says. “If you were to do a tough cardio session before strength training the lower body, your legs will already be fatigued.”

And if you plan to do sprints or HIIT, Rodriguez suggests allocating enough hours between this and a weightlifting session (such as doing sprints in the morning and lifting at night) or simply devoting a day to just this kind of high-intensity training.

“Do what works for you,” Rodriguez concludes. “And remember to do the type of cardio you most enjoy, do it when you like and switch it up so you stick with it.”

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