My Favourite Warm-Up Drills for Anaerobic Sports

My Favourite Warm-Up Drills for Anaerobic Sports

Youth Sports •

My Favourite Warm-Up Drills for Anaerobic Sports

Anaerobic sports are explosive and quick in nature. Common examples of anaerobic events in sport would be a sprint around the bases in softball, a shift on the ice in hockey, a sprint both on land or in the water, or any jumping motion. The duration of activity can last anywhere from seconds up to roughly two minutes. A good warm-up for anaerobic sports should be broken down into three parts: general warm-up, movement preparation, and performance priming.

The General Warm-Up:

The goal with the first portion of the warm-up is to get a good sweat on and increase blood flow to the main tissues that will be used in the sport. Anything can work in terms of drills for this part of the warm-up. Jogging a couple laps, skipping rope, ten minutes on a stationary bike, whatever you can do to get your heart rate elevated and to get a little bit of a sweat on will do wonders for your performance and injury prevention in the long run.

A good warm-up will have a multitude of benefits to the body, such as:

  • Increase blood flow to working tissues. This allows oxygen to move more easily through the body which will help the athlete perform better.
  • Increase body temperature.  This promotes perspiration and leads to an increased heart rate.
  • Increase heart rate. This will pump your blood faster through your body, providing your muscles with oxygen and fuel it needs to perform.
  • Increase synovial fluid in joints. Synovial fluid is like oil in a car. It protects your joints and allows the neighbouring structures to glide smoothly across one another.
  • Increase respiration rate. Again this will promote more oxygen consumption, so we can increase the amount of oxygen that can travel to the working muscles.

All of these happen simultaneously. You can’t seem to have one without the other. They are all working together in order to start your engine.

Something to point out for this section of the warm-up is to take this time to visualize and get your mind right for the task at hand. Sport and performance are just as much mental as it is physical. Use this time effectively to center your breathing, visualize your success for the demands that are to come, and crush your general warm-up! Now we are ready to move into some more specific movements for your performance prep.

Movement Preparation

The goal in the second portion of the warm-up is too narrow in on the exercise being done to the exercise being done. In part two, we want to specifically target the key muscles that are going to be used in the sport, and mobilize the key joints that will also be used.

I love using foam rollers and dynamic movements to move and mobilize.

Spend roughly 30 seconds – 1-minute foam rolling each of the major muscle groups that you will be using for your sport. Foam rolling helps promote blood flow to tissues and will allow for a temporary time increase for greater mobility to be obtained.

If you are performing lower-body anaerobic sports, then rolling your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves is a great start.

If you are performing a sport that requires upper body explosiveness, then rolling out your upper back, pecs, and lats, will all be great ideas to help get you to your peak performance.

Once you have spent some time on the foam roller, you can begin your dynamic warm-up. My go-to exercises are as follows:

  • High Knees
  • Butt Kicks
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Arm Huggers
  • Arm Swings
  • High Leg Kicks
  • Dead Hangs from a bar

Perform each of these for 10-20 seconds, and repeat if you feel necessary. Moving from a generic warm-up to a more specific will allow the body to further mobilize the specific tissues, and optimally prime them to react to the explosive demands of your anaerobic sport. These exercises will have you feeling loose and limber and ready to prime your body for performance.

Performance Priming

Anaerobic sports are explosive and require optimal power output. In order to do so, your nervous system must be able to react as quickly as possible, while enervating as many muscle fibers as possible. This is the meat and potatoes of your warm-up- everything you will have done will lead you up to this point. I believe that priming the muscles and nervous system is the most commonly missed piece of a good warm-up. 

Here is a list of my top drills for anaerobic sports:

  • Explosive Push-ups (5 Explosive Presses)
    • Just like a normal push-up, keep good form and press yourself off of the ground as high as you can. When you land, you want to absorb the force as quickly as you can and perform another push-up immediately as possible.
  • Bent-Over Slam Ball Presses (5 Explosive Presses)
    • Hinges are the hips with a flat back. Take a soft-weight ball, and push press it into the floor as explosive as possible, and catch it upon returning back to your chest.
  • Explosive Squat Jumps (5 Explosive Jumps)
    • Squat down to the ground and stand up as fast as possible, leaving the ground as a jump. When landing, land in an athletic position, and immediately jump again. Make sure that your back is flat, and that your ankles, knees, and hips are all stacked on top of one another.
  • Bounding (10-20 yards)
  • Box Jumps (5 Explosive Jumps)
    • Start in an athletic position and jump up onto a medium size box and land back in that athletic position again. Step off the back of the box and get ready to jump again.
  • Depth Jumps (3 Landing and Reactive Jumps)
    • Start on top of a box or bench. Step off of the box and land in an athletic position and immediately jump back up. This is training the muscles to stretch on command, and immediately contract again to produce optimal force.
  • 10-40 Yard Sprints (3-5 Reps)
    • Perform quick short sprints at max effort.

Each one of these won’t require many sets and reps, as they should be an all-out max-effort attempt. The goal of priming your body for performance is to have the muscle and nervous system ready to react in a split second to perform for the specific demands of your sport.

Elanne Krainyk

Elanne is SkillShark’s marketing aficionado who is equal parts passionate about sports, marketing and sports marketing. She can usually be found with a golf ball or three in her purse, and her favorite way to spend downtime is out on the course with friends and family.