Fitness Pro Sally Hughes Offers Tips on How to Effectively Warm Up For Strength Training Without Cardio !

If you know me or follow this blog, you know I work out. I walk my dog for 2+ miles every day and I do interval workouts, pilates and lots of other things to keep it interesting. One of the most important aspects of working out is warming up before the workout. However warming up doesn’t always mean jumping on the cardio wagon. Cardio is good but it’s not the only way of warming up. The biggest issue depends on what type of workout you are going to do. Cardio warm-ups are good if you are going to do cardio but for strength and flexibility workouts, that’s not always the case. Cardio doesn’t ‘warm up” the joints and ligature so that they are working smoothly. If you were doing a decathlon type of fitness program, cardio isn’t what you want necessarily. Thanks to guest blogger, Sally Hughes-AKA Planet Shark Fitness- who has answers and suggestions on other “warm-up” options!!

How to Effectively Warm Up For Strength Training Without Cardio
by Sally Hughes
Certified Fitness Trainer and Nutritionist

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing cardio in and of itself, there are far better and safer ways to warm up for strength training. In my 13 years of training fitness clients (plus 30 years of weight lifting), cardio has never proven to be the most effective warm up. Yes, it makes you sweat like mad, get really good at cardio, and burn off a few calories but what’s the trade-off? … Hence, this post.

For starters, we need to fully understand the meaning of cardio. According to Oxford Dictionary, it means of or relating to the heart. You can also ask your doctor who’ll likely say it’s a great way to improve your heart’s health. Be that as it may, cardio does NOT warm up your joints, ligaments and tendons – much less effectively prepare them for strength training.

To the contrary, your cardio warm up can have severe adverse side-effects by placing too much impact on them. Consequently, your best bet is a dynamic task-specific warm up – which equates to properly preparing your body for its precise strength training workout.

For Example, Let’s Say It’s “Leg Day”
Warming up on a treadmill is one thing. Warming up with body-weight or wall-ball squats is another. By choosing the latter, you not only get your heart pumping but you’re protecting yourself against injury. Shoot for a deep squat as illustrated. If you can’t squat that low initially, work up to it. Also make sure your knees never go past your toes and you exhale on exertion.


Leg-pressing 40% of your normal load or doing side lunges are also sage ideas.

Ditto Training Your Upper Body
Depending on your current fitness level, you might start with wall pushups, modified pushups or traditional ones. Another option is called “Around the World” whereby you wave a dumbbell or weighted plate in a circle above your head then back to your torso 10 times in each direction. If weights seem too heavy at first, use a water bottle and progress to dumbbells and plates as you get stronger and stronger.


Once you embrace dynamic task-specific warm ups, you’ll not only become a firm believer (both literally and figuratively), you’ll ditch the “dreadmill” while reaping maximum results from your strength training routine. That your joints, ligaments and tendons will thank you for years to come is much more than the icing on the cake – it is the cake.

(Stay tuned – because eating cake and being fit is a whole other story).

BONUS TIP: Strength train with intensity to achieve the cardio effect. The rest will take care of itself.

Yours in fitness and health,
Sally Hughes

© 2015 by Planet Shark Fitness

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Thanks to Sally Hughes for her great post. I love her ideas. Despite that she’s on the “right coast” and I am on the left, she’s one of my ‘go-to’ people for advice on strength-training, flexibility and proper nutrition. If you have questions or want to work out with Sally either IRL or via skype, reach to Sally and talk to her. She’s a whiz at all this stuff!

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