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Arron Collins-Thomas - Episode 4 - Cardio vs. Weights

Watch Episode 4 here


If you would prefer to read Arron's latest vlog - check out the video transcript below

Amy Williams:

Hello, it's Amy Williams here for the U Perform channel. And I'm back, sat with Arron our U Perform fitness expert, and I'm really excited about today because we have got almost the age old debate; cardio before weights or weights before cardio? What on earth do you do first when you rock up to your gym? Have you got an answer for me straight away?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

No. I wish it was just a simple answer. It depends on you and your goal, ok. I think a lot of people go to the gym, they ask people what to do and everyone's got different answers because we've all got different goals and we want to compare ourselves. So when you say, 'Oh, he looks great.' I want to look like that. So I'm going to train like they are, but they might have completely different goals, different things they're training for. So, it's not as simple as we might like to think.

Amy Williams:

So I guess when a client comes to you, are you going to whack them onto that Wattbike to start doing there warmup, would your clients always have that element of cardio even though they're clearly lifting weights?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

Yeah. I think it's obviously important to have some cardio in there, but I think now there's a lot that merges between the two. What is cardio and what is weights. Cardio, traditionally, we define as maybe doing a jog or a swim or a bike, but it's not quite as simple as that now. Right? You've got your HIIT workouts, which is cardio and you can actually do HIIT workouts with weights, which is combining both of them. So we don't have to segregate things quite so much anymore.

Especially in our minds, we kind of think about separating them, but bringing them together can be quite an effective workout. But again, it's dependent on your goals. If you're a guy who, or a woman who wants to put on a load of muscle, you might not want to do too much cardio because that's going to stop you building muscle.

Or if you want to do some strength training, it's important that maybe you would want to do strength and weights first and then cardio afterwards, because you wouldn't want to be fatigued going into your strength training. Okay.

If you were training for a marathon or something like that, then you would want to do your cardio first and then maybe some weights afterwards, so that you're fresh for that running training. So it's very dependent on your goals. I mean, you obviously trained at a very high level when you were a professional athlete, what would you have done?

Amy Williams:

Well, because I was a strength sport, so it was speed, being explosive. We would only sprint for about 30 meters. I didn't even do cardio. I hadn't even ran for more than 20, 30 minute minutes in my life. So I would then for my warmup, I would go on a Wattbike or a cross trainer for maximum 5, 10 minutes at the very most. And that was more just to get my body moving, get a bit of heat into your muscles. And then I would spend about 30 to 45 minutes on a mat, doing mobility, doing loads of stabilization. And that would become more of a warmup, but very slow movement. So not really cardio based. And then I'd go straight into my weight lifting. So yeah, no cardio as such, but a good solid 45 minutes of moving and specific strength, stability exercises before then lifting really, really heavy.

So it's only now since retiring. I remember when I retired, I was like, I'm going to go for jog. I'm going to go for a jog that's 20 minutes long. I found it so hard. I can remember it clearly to this day that I was so unfit because I didn't have that cardio, plodding along, doing that same thing over and over. It was quite a strange kind of feeling for me. So for you, I guess you are writing it straight from someone's specific goals, a client will come to you: I want to lose weight, I want to get strong, I want to build muscle. And then your age old debate of which one you do first will come into play.

Arron Collins-Thomas:

Yeah. So as a personal trainer with my clients, you take everyone's personal goals. That's the most important thing, but a lot of my clients coming to see me to lose weight. So I would often do cardio first. So then their heart rate is up the whole way through the session. So when I go into the weights and the more strength style stuff, their heart rate should be a bit higher all the way through that. And then they might have more, of a chance of burning a few more calories when they're doing that. And then if I've got client who wants to put on muscle I do a bit cardio at the end just for general fitness, but I want to focus on lifting all those weights while their body is fresh so we can teach them new techniques without them being fatigued and possibly getting injuries. And so that they can focus on those things before they're knackered from a big cardio session at the beginning.

Amy Williams:

So I guess maybe we should even take a step back of what are we even defining cardio as. 10 years ago you would have thought, 'Oh, I have to go for a, run, a bike, a swim' for an hour or more to call it cardio. What are we calling cardio?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

Good question. It's not easily defined really is it? And I think people are still confused about that. And by combining the two, if you're just looking for general fitness, doing a circuit class, doing a HIIT workout, that kind of stuff, will combine the weights and the cardio, and you're going to get a good or whatever workout working on the muscle strength, getting your cardiovascular fitness up, working that heart and just feeling good from doing that. So if you haven't got a specific goal, but it could be weight loss and just general fitness find a circuits class or HIIT class or a workout like that. I think that's probably the best option for that one.

Amy Williams:

And I guess if you wanted to a bit like what I used to do, if you want to warm up for your strength session to lift some heavy weights, what would you be advising your clients of how they then warm up for that?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

Yeah. So I mean, a few minutes of cardio is great. 5 to 10 minutes, get the blood pumping round, start to loosen off the connective tissue. Then there'll some mobility work like you did probably not 35, 40 minutes of mobility for the average person who doesn't have that much time. And then you prepared yourself for the strength stuff.

So, you could even do 15 to 20 minutes of gentle cardio. If you're someone who it takes a while to warm up. We're not all the same. Some people just take a bit of time to get going. Especially if you've done a bit of heavy training a few days before, and you're a bit stiff. Maybe you want to just warm up a bit longer, 15 to 20 minutes of gentle cardio to get the body prepared is absolutely fine. And then with that heart rate up the muscle activation already there, you might then perform better in your weightlifting as well.

Amy Williams:

For me, I took it to an absolute extreme at the Olympics. We knew exactly how hot our muscles needed to be to be able to perform and therefore get the most out of that 30 meter sprint as I was pushing my sled. So I guess it's really is what do you want to achieve from your session isn't it? That strength or lifting heavier?

We fluffed around the whole question of what we were talking about today, cardio or weights, which one first, and we still haven't even answered have we. We haven't actually properly given everyone an answer. Can you at least summarize a little?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

I'll try my best. I think again, we've said this a number of times; that it's personal to you. So you've got to find what works for you and your goals. But in simpler terms, if you are looking to build muscle and put on some strength, you would want to do your weights first. This is so you're not fatigued going into it.

If your goal is to improve your cardio fitness and you're training for a marathon or something, you'd want to do your cardio first. Okay. So that's the basic rule that we'll go with on those ones.

And then obviously around that, we've got to think about different people's lifestyles and what they can actually fit in and how much time they've got. You know, a lot of people are time poor at the moment. So we think about a 30 minute, 45 minute session go to that circuit class, go to your HIIT class, that kind of thing that combines the two of those and it's really just an effective way of doing it.

If you're someone who has the time to do your cardio and go for a run on the weekend, do that, you know, as a personal trainer, I don't want to stand next to someone who's running on the treadmill for 20 minutes. You know, it's not an effective use of their money or my time. So what I suggest to all my clients is get your cardio done outside. And then when you come to see me, we'll work on the strength stuff, the stuff that's technique based that you need someone there by your side to help you out with.

Amy Williams:

I think that's absolutely spot I'm liking that. I think we're both kind of agreeing. We could probably still talk about this for absolutely ages.

Arron Collins-Thomas:

So I think find someone who's going to be an expert, who's going to give you some good help and advice. So local personal trainer, someone who can appraise your body and what you need and what your goals are and tailor it to you.

Amy Williams:

Thank you, Aaron. I think we could probably go round and round circles talking about this for ages. Now next week with Aaron, we're going to talk about when is the best time of day to train? Are you a morning person? Is it better to train in the evening? A little debate going on there? So thank you for joining us today, click on the bell, subscribe and we will see you next week.


Tune in next Tuesday for Episode 5

See you then!

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