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What order should you do your exercises in, and does it matter?

If you're combining strength training and cardio, you'll burn more calories and melt fat more quickly if you interchange the cardio and strength training.
/ Source: TODAY

As a weight-loss coach for women and a certified personal trainer, yoga and Pilates instructor, I have over a decade of experience in working with women (and science!) to determine the best workout routine when you’re doing a full-body workout.

First, warm up! This is crucial. Your body needs about three minutes of light cardio (think: walking or lightly jogging) to get the blood flowing.

Next, do a few dynamic stretches. These stretches are not static, instead, they’re stretches while you’re moving. An example would be a lunge to stretch your hip flexor and then a forward fold to stretch the hamstring of the opposite leg, and moving back and forth between the two for a few seconds. After you repeat on the other side, it’s time to get into the workout.

By combining strength training and cardio for a full-body workout, you’ll burn calories and melt fat quickly. Not only that, if you do your cardio bursts as intervals, you’ll also have a more effective workout.

For example, after your dynamic stretching, do three minutes of cardio exercises like running in place, jumping jacks or butt kicks. Go slow for 30 seconds, and then fast for 30 seconds, and repeat this for the three minutes. Your heart will be pumping!

Then, do three minutes of strength training. This can be squats, lunges, bicep curls, upper back exercises and any other strength training exercises that you like.

Repeat these three-minute cardio and strength training intervals for a total of three rounds, and then hit your abs hard! Since your abdominals are very small muscles, it may take many repetitions for you to feel the burn. Therefore, it’s beneficial to spend about three minutes just doing ab exercises so that you really fatigue the muscles.

Finally, finish your workout with slow yoga stretching. Stretch all of your major muscles, and hold each stretch while you’re breathing slowly for 20-30 seconds per stretch. Now that your muscles are warmed up, it’s safe to hold the stretches longer. Plus, it’s a great reward and good way to end an effective workout!

Stephanie Mansour is a lifestyle and weight-loss coach for women. Join her weight-loss challenge here! For more fitness and diet advice, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter.