Note: We are working on our own technique videos to accompany the drills below, however, for ease of use, I will be posting instructional videos from other content providers until I am able to replace them with our own content.
High Knee Walk
This linear drill is a great start to your warm-up because it is a gentle stretch that targets the posterior hip and the glutes.
- Variation #1 DM (High Knee Walk): Begin by stepping forward raising your knee to your chest, being sure to keep upright posture. As your knee raises, grasp the shin and pull the knee toward the chest. Focus on extending the stepping leg and raise up on the toes, waking up the opposite hip flexor.
- Variation #2 DF (High Knee Walk with External Rotation): This is a dynamic flexibility drill. Begin by grasping the shin instead of the knee with an overhand grip using both hands, pulling the shin to waist height. This will create an external rotation in the hip. Simultaneously, extend the hip of the supporting leg while rising up on the toes.
High Knee Skip
This DM linear drill adds a gentle skip to the above drill and removes the arm hugging the knee. It is designed to engage the hip flexor. When completing this drill, emphasis should be placed on creating a rhythmic action, not on height or speed.
High Knee Run
This DM linear drill is similar to running in place with a small amount of forward movement. To gain the most benefit from this drill, be sure to maintain an upright posture and focus on obtaining a high number of foot to floor contacts. Maintaining a perfect posture during this drill assures you will put stress on the correct muscles.
This DM linear drill utilizes a side ways motion requiring adduction/abduction and coordination. Begin by standing sideways towards the direction you would like to travel. Note, you will switch the direction you are facing after 10 yards to complete both sides of the body. Make sure you maintain proper upright posture throughout the entire motion. When moving towards the right side, drive the left knee up so that it steps over and crosses the opposite knee. Next, place the left foot on the floor and step out with the right foot. Step the left foot behind the right, and repeat the pattern.
This linear drill will shift the focus from the hip flexor to the hamstring.
- Variation #1- DM (Heel-Ups): Actively bring your heel up towards your butt, alternating as you move. This drill not only activates the hamstring, but also takes the quadricep through its full range of motion.
- Variation #2 – DF (Heel-Up with Internal Rotation): This drill will still stretch the hip, only with emphasis into internal rotation. Grab the foot with the palm of the hand on the inside of the arch. The hand has to be supinated (palm facing forward) for a proper grip. From here, internally rotate (turn the foot out) to stretch the hip external rotators. Some people find this movement difficult, which indicates a lack of dynamic flexibility in the hips.
- Variation #3 – DF (Walking Heel-Up): To begin, grab the foot with the same-side hand and pull the heel to the butt with each step taken while walking. You may also grab with the opposite hand to engage the trunk.
- Variation #4 – DF (Walking Heel-Up with Straight-Leg Deadlift: You will begin this drill as you did with the walking heel-up, by pulling the heel toward the butt. From there, lean forward making sure to keep your trunk straight, while lifting the knee as high as possible. This stretch will stress the quadriceps as the main muscle targeted, while also engaging the rectus femoris of the lifted leg. The supporting foot and ankle will also enjoy some proprioceptive input.
- Proprioception is sometimes described as the sixth sense, and is the sense of self-movement and body position.
Two-Feet Hopping/Bunny Hops
This DM lateral drill is similar to jumping rope, only you will not have a rope to contend with and your will move forward instead of staying in place. Keep your feet and knees together and hop forward in small motions with the emphasis placed on squeezing your legs together while maintaining an upright posture and tight core. Your arms may be placed behind your head. For more of a challenge use one hand, grasp the thumb of the opposite hand, extend the elbows, and elevate the scapula, raising your arms overhead.
This DM lateral drill prepares the body for lateral movement activity. Begin with your feet shoulder width apart, your knees slightly bent and the side of your body facing the direction you will be traveling. You will maintain the slight bend in your knees with the goal to keep your body at the same height throughout the entire drill. Start to move laterally, staying on the balls of your feet and making sure to not cross your feet. Repeat with the opposite side facing forward. This can also be done in a circular path by facing inwards and then outwards to hit both sides of the body.
If you find yourself feeling unstable with this drill, you may not have adequate single-leg strength and should not include it in your warm-up routine until at least one week of single leg strength has been completed.
This DM linear drill dynamically increases the hamstring stretch while activating the hip flexor. The motion of raising the leg while maintaining a straight leg requires the hip flexor to intensely contract. You may hold both arms in front of your body at shoulder height to give you a goal for the height of the skipping foot. Another option is to cross the opposite arm and touch the toe at the height of your range of motion, which also creates a beneficial core rotation to the drill.
Straight-Leg Deadlift Walk
This linear DM/DF drill activates the hamstring as the main muscle, while also engaging the ankles and hip extensors. Begin with your arms abducted (out to the side/airplane arms) and attempt to lift one leg up to your waist height behind your body. This action will dynamically stretch the hamstring of the supporting leg, while activating the hamstring of the opposite leg as a hip extensor. To create forward movement, swing the raised leg forward for a big step. If you are new to exercising or know you have tight hamstrings, be sure to go slowly and work towards good technique. This exercise tends to cause soreness in beginners so modify the amount you complete to accommodate for your current fitness level.
This DF linear drill will stretch both the hamstring as well as the IT band (a band of connective tissue that extends from the hip, along the side of the thigh, over the knee, to the top of the shinbone). For this drill, you will move laterally for the 10 yard distance. Begin by moving towards your left by crossing your right leg over the left, shift the left hip out to the left, and reach down and to the right toward the toes. Really emphasize the movement of the hip toward the direction you are moving because that is where the stretching of the IT band comes from.
This DM linear drill is what it sounds like, you are literally running in reverse. Emphasize the press through the front leg while reaching the back leg forcefully back. This drill engages the hamstrings while stretching the hip flexors. It is the opposite motion of the straight-leg skip.
This DM linear drill is distinctly different from the backwards run due to the upper body position and movement of the feet. The main muscle targeted is the quadricep. To begin this drill, hinge at the hips creating a bent over position keeping your hips low. Your feet will either be in front of your body or underneath. Emphasis is placed on the quadricep engagement via the push with no reach to the rear. Focus on the pushing leg extension action for the best results.
Backward and Forward Lunge Walks
These DM linear drills will warm up all of the leg and hip extensors, while helping to stretch out the anterior hip. If you are new to exercising or have a lower fitness level, this drill should not be completed until at least one week of single-leg strength work has been completed. The lunge walk places a good deal of stress on the legs and can leave you too sore to complete the rest of the workout if proper single-leg strength training has not been completed. Begin the backward variation in week two and add the forward variation in week 3.
- Variation #1 – DM (Backward Lunge): Begin with both feet shoulder width apart, and step back, bending both knees allowing your back knee to gently tap the floor. Do not let your knee slam into the floor, maintain control throughout the entire exercise. At the end range of the exercise, your legs should both be at a 90 degree bend. To complete the movement, step back with the lead foot to come back to your feet shoulder width apart. Alternate sides moving backward until you have reached your desired distance.
- Variation #2 – DM (Forward Lunge): For the forward variation, complete the same leg movement as described in the backward variation, only you will step forward to initiate the motion.
- Variation #3 – DF (Overhead Lunge Walk): This drill is the same as the above drills, except your arms are held overhead to involve the upper body. Using one hand, grasp the thumb of the opposite hand, extend the elbows, and elevate the scapula. This variation can be performed with both the forward and backward lunge exercises.
- Variation #4 – DF (Backward Lunge Walk with Twist): For this drill you will complete the same motions as described in the backward lunge walk above, while adding a twisting motion. To include the twist, the opposite elbow is brought out over the front knee. This twist provides an increase in the dynamic range of motion of the hip flexor muscles. You may also add an additional twist towards the other side for additional core activation.
This is an excellent linear drill because it engages the entire body in a nice flowing movement. This is also one of the most challenging warm-up drills, and can leave you very tired. Please note that the instructional videos provided do not include the upward dog pose portion of the exercise.
- Variation #1 – DM (Forward Inchworm): Begin in a high plank position (push-up position), drop your hips to stretch the abdominal area (upward dog pose), being sure to keep your toes tucked under as you drop your hips. Next, bring your hips up to create an A-frame with your body (if you are familiar with yoga poses, this is the downward dog pose). Now walk your feet towards your hands being careful to keep your legs straight. The distance your hands will travel will be decided by your hamstring flexibility, so only walk to the point where you can still keep your legs straight. This will provide an excellent hamstring stretch. From this position, you will walk forward with your hands while keeping your feet stationary, finishing the movement with your hips lowered for another abdominal stretch. This portion of the stretch will provide an excellent upper body warm-up, particularly engaging the shoulder blade (scapulothoracic) area. To start the motion again, simply raise your hips up to the high plank position.
- Variation #2 – DF (Backward Inchworm): This drill is done just like the forward inchworm, only in reverse. Begin in the same high plank position and walk the hands towards the feet, and then the feet backward to complete, moving backwards for the 10 yard max distance.
This is a full-body DM/DF linear warm-up crawl. Begin in a straddle high plank position. Move one arm and the opposite side leg forward simultaneously, making sure to keep your hips low throughout the entire movement. You will bring the knee forward until it reaches the same side elbow. Repeat on the other side creating a forward movement.
This is a full-body DM/DF linear warm-up crawl. You will begin in a bent-knee straddle stance downward dog, with your palms or fists on the floor. Lean your weight forward onto the hands so that you have enough leverage to remove your feet simultaneously, swinging your hips out to one side of your posted hands. Next, remove your palms/fists and reach slightly forward, placing them back into the starting bent-knee straddle stance downward dog. Repeat this motion from side to side.
This is a full-body DM/DF linear warm-up crawl. Begin in a low squat position (frog position) with your palms on the floor and your chest up. Your arms should be on the inside of your legs. When ready, you will remove your palms, lean forward preparing to hop onto your hands. Spring from your legs, jumping forward placing only your palms on the ground, while your feet elevate slightly over the head. Bring your feet forward and outside the hands to land in your starting position. Repeat for your chosen distance.
This is a full-body DM/DF linear warm-up crawl. Begin on your hands and knees in a table top position. Lift your knees off the ground while maintaining the level of your hips. You will maintain this body position throughout the crawl exercise. To begin, your opposite arm and leg will move forward in tandem, alternating sides as you crawl to reach your desired distance.
Crab Walk Backward/Forward
This is a full-body DM/DF linear warm-up crawl. Begin in a seated position with your back facing the direction your will travel. Your knees will be bent and your palms will be on the ground directly below your shoulder. Before you begin, raise your butt off the ground, pushing your hips up until you create as much of a straight body position through the torso as possible. Maintain this position throughout the entire crawl. Begin by moving the same side’s foot and hand backward simultaneously. Then move the other side’s foot and hand backward, alternating until you have reached your desired distance. Reverse your direction to perform the exercise forward.
This is a full-body DM/DF linear warm-up crawl. This crawl is exactly the same as the tiger crawl, except you will lower the ear and body to the floor between each step, essentially completing a spider push-up.
Begin in a straddle high plank position with the side of your body facing the direction you will travel. To start, cross the right arm over the left, while bringing your feet together. Next, bring the left arm back out to the left and move your feet back to the straddle position, moving back to your starting position. Crawl for half the amount of your goal distance, and then reverse direction so that you warm-up both sides equally.
Agility Ladder Drills
Agility ladder drills are excellent to include in your warm-up or main workout. They will help improve your speed, agility, and acceleration/quickness as well as increasing the strength of your tendons, joints, and ligaments. As an added bonus, these drills also work out the mind, forcing you to think quickly as you move through the various rhythmic movements. Due to the increased movement necessary to complete these drills, you are also engaging your lungs and heart at a higher rate helping to increase your body temperature. These drills also help create coordination between your foot and arm movements. In general, your opposite side arm and leg will move in tandem as you complete each drill, helping to build better body coordination. To gain the most benefit from these drills, you want to maintain an upright body posture and stay on your toes at all times. The heels of your feet should not touch the ground at any time throughout the duration of each drill.
Single-Foot in Box, Running Forward
Begin at one end of the ladder with the front of your body facing the ladder and your elbows held at a 90 degree bend. Run down the ladder, stepping one foot in each box, bringing the knees up to 90 degrees each step. Make sure to pump your arms in rhythm with your foot steps (i.e. opposite arm moves in conjunction with the opposite leg.) Run through each box until you reach the end.
Two-Feet in Box , Forward
Begin at one end of the ladder with the front of your body facing the ladder and your elbows held at a 90 degree bend. This is similar to the Single-Foot in Box Drill, except both feet will land in each box as you move down the ladder. For this drill, we are working more on moving your feet quickly, so your knees will not come up to the 90 degree height like we did in the previous drill, instead rising just enough to facilitate quick foot movement. Make sure to pump your arms in rhythm with your foot steps.
Two-Feet in Box, Lateral
For this drill you will be moving laterally, so your body position will be shoulder facing the direction of travel. This drill is similar to the Two-Feet in Box, Forward drill, except you will be moving sideways. Step each foot into each box as you move laterally down the ladder. Keep your elbows at a 90 degree bend throughout the duration of the drill and run through the entire ladder. Make sure to pump your arms in rhythm with your foot steps.
Begin at one end of the ladder with the front of your body facing the ladder and your elbows held at a 90 degree bend. Moving both feet simultaneously, hop into the first box of the ladder, keeping your ankles and knees together as you move. Hop into each box as you move down the ladder. The arm movement for this drill is similar to how you move your arms when completing a broad jump. As you begin your motion forward with your feet, your arms will swing back, maintaining the 90 degree bend, as you hop, your arms will swing forward with the hop.
One-Foot Bunny Hop
Begin at one end of the ladder with the front of your body facing the ladder, standing on one foot and your elbows held at a 90 degree bend. Hop on only one foot in every bod down the entire length of the ladder. Repeat with the other foot.
Begin at one end of the ladder with the front of your body facing the ladder and one foot inside the ladder. Hop from side to side while traveling forward down the ladder. Each time you jump, a new lead foot is placed in the ladder. Make sure to keep your hips over the ladder as you travel forward. Keep your arms at your sides with a 90 degree bend.
In-and-Out Foot Hop
Begin at one end of the ladder with the front of your body facing the ladder and your feet straddling the ladder. Hop forward, bringing both of your feet into the box, and then hop again, bringing both feet outside of the ladder straddling the same box you just hopped out of. Repeat this pattern as you move down the ladder.
Single-Leg In-and-Out Shuffle
Begin at one end of the ladder with the front of your body facing the ladder and one foot in the ladder. The foot in the box will step laterally outside of the box to land next to the outside foot, while the outside foot steps up and lands in the same spot. The inside foot will now travel forward to step into the next box and the outside foot will step forward, staying outside of the ladder. Repeat this pattern as you move down the ladder.
Lateral In-and-Out Shuffle
For this drill you will be moving laterally, so your body position will be shoulder facing the direction of travel. Begin facing the top box at one end of the ladder with both feet on the outside of the ladder. Shuffle both feet, one after the other, into the box you are facing, and then back out. The foot on the side your are traveling will next step into the next box, with the other foot following, repeating this pattern as you move down the ladder. Stay facing the same direction and travel the ladder back to where you started to evenly work both sides of your body.
Named after famous boxer Muhammad Ali because it mimics typical fighter footwork. For this drill you will be moving laterally, so your body position will be shoulder facing the direction of travel. Begin facing the top box at one end of the ladder with both feet on the outside of the ladder. Move the lead foot into a box, then quickly switch it with the other foot. Switch the left and right foot in and out of each box as you move down the ladder. Your arms will swing with an opposite arm/leg rhythm. Stay facing the same direction and travel the ladder back to where you started to evenly work both sides of your body.
Begin at one end of the ladder with the front of your body facing the ladder and one foot in the ladder. Jump so that even though the upper body and shoulders are still facing forward, the hips and feet are now perpendicular to the shoulders and the other foot is in the ladder. Jump to the next box, returning the hips and feet to the original position. Your arms will maintain a 90 degree bend and will stay in the same position throughout the duration of the drill. Repeat this motion as you move down the ladder.
For this drill you will be moving laterally, so your body position will be shoulder facing the direction of travel. Begin facing the top box at one end of the ladder with both feet on the outside of the ladder. Facing the ladder with the right shoulder, step into the first box with your right foot, moving laterally. Next, your left foot will cross over your right foot to land in the next box. Repeat this motion all the way down the ladder. Repeat facing the other direction and make sure to pump your arms in rhythm with your foot steps.
For this drill you will be moving laterally, so your body position will be shoulder facing the direction of travel. Begin facing the top box at one end of the ladder with both feet on the outside of the ladder. Facing the ladder with the right shoulder, step into the first box with your right foot, moving laterally. Next, your left foot will cross behind your right foot, landing in the next box. Move your right foot into the box following the box your left foot is in, uncrossing your legs in the process. Next, move your left foot to cross in front of your right foot, landing in the next box. To finish the entire pattern, uncross your legs once again by moving your right foot from behind your left, placing it in the next box past the box your left foot is occupying. Repeat this pattern all the way down the ladder. Make sure to pump your arms in rhythm with your foot steps.
Icky Shuffle, Forward
Begin at one end of the ladder with the front of your body facing the ladder and your elbows held at a 90 degree bend. Step forward into the top box with your right foot and then your left. Next, move your left foot laterally to the left outside of the same box you are in and step your right foot forward into the next box. Now your left foot will join your right foot in the next box and your right foot will move laterally right outside of the same box. Repeat this motion until you reach the end of the ladder. Make sure to pump your arms in rhythm with your foot steps.
Icky Shuffle, Backward
This drill is exactly the same as the forward version described above, except you will reverse the motion backward. So begin with your back facing the top of the ladder and complete the same footwork detailed above, backward.