Weights or cardio first? A type 1 twist

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The Type 1 twist: Resistance (anaerobic) and cardio (aerobic) training have very different acute metabolic effects, especially for people with type 1 diabetes.

In the perfect world, type 1 aside, it’s best to keep resistance and cardio training separate so you can apply yourself optimally to each type of training. However, most people simply don’t have the time to separate workouts on different days and, for practical reasons, have to jam both into each visit to the gym. With regard to optimising training effect the key consideration here is to choose the workout that’s most important to you and do it first when you’re fresh and energised. Another option to balance the quality of resistance and cardio workouts is to alternate what you do first, so on Monday you might start your workout with cardio followed by weights, then on Wednesday you’d kick it off with weights, then cardio, and so on.

The Type 1 twist: Resistance (anaerobic) and cardio (aerobic) training have very different acute metabolic effects, especially for people with type 1 diabetes. At the simplest level, resistance training is likely to increase blood glucose level during exercise because it can stimulate production of glucose raising hormones if performed at sufficiently high intensity and continuous aerobic exercise is more likely to cause reductions in blood glucose level during exercise.

Nothing too exciting about that snippet of information. However, given that for many people with type 1 the majority of hypoglycaemia is exercise related the research cited below suggests another possible strategy for avoiding hypos using exercise type order i.e., what comes first i.e., resistance or cardio?

The research suggests that people with type 1 diabetes who tend to experience exercise related hypoglycaemia are likely to be better off by performing their resistance exercise in front of their cardio. Because doing so may reduce declines in blood glucose levels during subsequent aerobic exercise. They also suggest that for some people performing the resistance component of their workout first might reduce the requirement for carbohydrate supplementation during exercise. Of course, there’s always the other side of the coin where they suggest performing aerobic exercise first for people who experience exercise related hyperglycaemia.

Yardley, J. E., Kenny, G. P., Perkins, B. A., Riddell, M. C., Malcolm, J., Boulay, P., Khandwala, F., et al. (2012). Effects of Performing Resistance Exercise Before Versus After Aerobic Exercise on Glycemia in Type 1 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 35(4), 669–675.

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