Contrary to some, strength training isn’t the only type of training involved in someone’s life. Some train for Jiu-Jitsu, some have a sport they play where strength training is just supplementation, or some even have hobbies that require a decent amount of physical or skill-based effort. The questions then becomes, when should I add strength training? Should I strength train before or after I go to the batting cage? Should I strength train before or after Jiu-Jitsu practice? Should I strength train before or after I go work with my pitching coach? Should I do my strength training before or after cardio?
I have a very simple answer to this, at least, I think I do. At the end of the day everyone only has so much physical effort they can exert. It is beneficial to think of this like a gas tank. Some people have a bigger or smaller tank than others. The tank represents the relative amount of physical resources you can exert on physical stuff. The more well trained you are, the bigger the tank, and vice versa.
So, whatever your goals are, I believe it is important to train the most important thing first. There becomes an important distinction here. Some training is based on general physical effort. Other training is more skill-based. Batting practice is way more skill-based than running 4 miles for your cardio. Because skill-based training takes quite a bit more overall motor coordination, I think it is important to always do your skill practice first. The last thing you want to do when you practice pitching is to have super fatigued legs from squatting right before because you are likely to not get much out of it. If you have two practices that are equal in the skill work involved, I would train whatever is most important first. You have to be able to make the distinction between what is skill-based and what is not. I would say any sort of training or practice you are doing for sport is likely to be more skill-based than your strength training, and therefore it should be first. Ideally, I would try to spread out all of the training into their own days unless it is not possible. If someone has to have two different training days on the same day, the skill-based training comes first unless unless they can get adequate rest during the day before the next training session.
I think it is important to build up your gas tank as much as possible so you can accumulate more work in a given day. The more work and training you can accumulate, the better the athlete you will be. There becomes a downside if you try to build up your gas tank too fast and your body can't recover so you end up just beating it down more and more. This would be an example of training on "E," as opposed to actually making your gas tank bigger.
You only have so much physical effort you can give in a day. If you want to be a great marathon runner, and strength training is taking up 60-70% of your overall training volume, I would say that you are doing it wrong. You are going to adapt to specific stressors and the intensity of those stressors. If you can only go at about 50% on your cardio because you are so tired from strength training you won't get much out of that cardio except more fatigue. The same is applied for sport. Strength training can be a great supplemental tool to help you in other endeavors. Just make sure it doesn’t become the thorn in your side that is actually preventing you from making progress at what is most important.
Email me at Justin@liftlabco.com if you have any additional questions!