Riebe, D., Morrell, C. A., Ward, C. L., Blissmer, B., Maher, J. F., & Silva, J. E. (2004). The effects of exercise order on the perceptual response to cardiovascular and resistance exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36(5), Supplement abstract 916.

This study compared ratings of perceived exertion to varying orders of cardiovascular and resistance exercise. Male collegiate rowers (N = 13) completed two randomly assigned exercise trials separated by seven days. The aerobic-resistance trial (AR) required Ss to complete 20 minutes of treadmill running at a speed and grade approximating 65% of their VO2max. Immediately after a standard 50-min resistance training program working all the major muscle groups (six exercises, 3 x 10 reps at 70% 1 RM) was performed. The resistance-aerobic trial (RA) required Ss to complete identical bouts of resistance training and aerobic exercise with the order reversed. During aerobic exercise, local, central, and overall RPE was measured at 5, 10, 15, and 20 minutes while heart rate, VO2, VE, and lactate were measured at 10 and 20 minutes. During resistance training, local RPE was measured immediately following the last repetition of each resistance exercise and lactate was measured after the third and sixth exercise.

During aerobic exercise, local RPE and overall RPE were significantly higher at all times in RA compared to AR. Central RPE was higher at 5, 10, and 20 minutes during the aerobic portion of RA compared to AR. Heart rate and VO2 were higher at 10 and 20 minutes and VE was higher at minute 10 during RA compared to AR. There was no difference in blood lactate between trials during aerobic exercise. No significant differences in local RPE or blood lactate levels were found between trials during resistance training.

Implication. Aerobic exercise is perceived to be more difficult when it is completed after resistance training. This may have important implications for exercise prescription. When both resistance and aerobic exercise are completed during the same exercise session and aerobic exercise is considered more important, it may be beneficial to prescribe aerobic exercise first followed by resistance training. Perhaps the preferred alternative would be to have the two forms of training separated by an adequate rest period.

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