14 Best Examples of Anaerobic Exercise

If you want to increase strength and endurance, burn significant calories, and improve overall body composition by spending a little time, consider doing anaerobic exercises. Anaerobic training includes short-duration exercises that are highly intense and heart-pumping, for example – sprinting, Tabata, and powerlifting.

In this article, I’ll outline the best examples of anaerobic exercises that can increase your strength, enhance your cardiovascular health, reduce body fats, and take your fitness to the next level.

Combining the anaerobic exercises with aerobic ones, you’ll become fitter, stronger, and faster.

What is Anaerobic Exercise?

Anaerobic workouts break down glucose for energy without using oxygen. It includes highly intense and heart-pumping exercises that are performed for a very short period. One bout in anaerobic training lasts anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, with several minutes of intervals in between.

Sprinting is a great example of anaerobic exercise. During the sprints, you don’t focus on breathing; instead, you try to run as fast as possible for a short duration.

From improving bone density, joint health, muscular endurance, and lactic threshold to decreasing excess body fats and disease risk, anaerobic training has various health benefits.

However, despite many advantages, anaerobic training can be detrimental to some people, particularly people with cardiovascular disease, past injuries, and obesity. So, it’s best to consult with your doctor or physical trainer before you do one of the types of anaerobic exercise.

14 Best Examples of Anaerobic Exercise

Purely AnaerobicPartly Anaerobic
High-Intensity TrainingSwimming
WeightliftingJumping Rope
PlyometricBattle Rope
Ballistic TrainingBoxing Punches
Sledgehamer Tyre SlamBicycling
Sled Training
Anaerobic workout examples

1. Sprinting

Anaerobic Exercises List

Sprinting means running as fast as possible for a set duration, typically 10 to 30 seconds.

It engages multiple muscles throughout the body, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hips, calves, and core.

Sprinting is the best way to enhance metabolism, improve performance, increase endurance, and build strength for sports like football, soccer, basketball, and track and field.

Benefits of Sprinting:1 Research into the Health Benefits of Sprint Interval Training Should Focus on Protocols with Fewer and Shorter Sprints – Springer.com Sports Medicine

  • Improves and maximizes your VO2 max,
  • Regulates blood pressure,
  • Lowers blood glucose levels,
  • Improves cardiovascular health,
  • Increases stamina and endurance,
  • Develops body composition.

Example of a sprint interval routine

  • The duration of one sprinting session: 30 minutes
  • Sprinting time: 15-30 seconds
  • Total Rounds: 6-8
  • Rest between each round: 4-5 minutes
  • Estimated calories burned: 300

2. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

anaerobic exercise examples

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves short, intense bursts of activity alternating between high-intensity work and a short recovery period.

For example, doing battle rope for 15 seconds with 30 to 40 seconds of rest and repeating until the desired time.

The goal of this training is to push yourself as hard as possible but then quickly recover so that you can repeat the cycle again.

High-Intensity Interval Training has several benefits, such as:

  • It allows you to burn more calories,
  • It helps you build muscles while losing fat,
  • Increase stamina and boost metabolism,
  • Reduce weight (if you decrease calorie consumption)
  • Build strength and explosiveness,
  • Improve heart and lung health.

Example of an anaerobic HIIT routine

Do as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes with 2 minutes of rest in between.

Burpees10 reps at 85-95% of your MHR30 seconds
Kneeling Jump10 reps at 90-95% of your MHR30 seconds
Pushups30-40 pushups in 30 seconds30 seconds
Squats30-40 pushups in 30 seconds30 seconds
Mountain Climbing20-sec at 85-95% of your MHR

3. Weightlifting

Barbell push workout

Weightlifting is also considered an anaerobic exercise because it involves a short burst of intense movement, which is pushing and pulling the weight.

You might wonder how weight training is considered an anaerobic exercise, right?

Well, your body uses carbohydrates (as an energy source) and converts glycogen to produce energy that allows you to lift weights. It does not require oxygen (for energy) like cardio exercises, which is why weightlifting is considered an example of anaerobic exercise.

If your goal is to build strength, enhance power, increase muscle mass, and burn more calories, then weightlifting may be the option for you.

Here are some examples of weightlifting exercises:

  • Deadlift Variations
  • Squat Variations
  • Barbell Row
  • Bench Press
  • Overhead Press
  • Clean and Press

4. Plyometric

anaerobic workout examples

Plyometric exercises are intense bursts that increase your body’s ability to produce force and power. They are a great way to improve your overall athleticism while also improving the strength of specific muscle groups, especially your legs.

The plyometric training includes various jumping exercises, such as the high jump, vertical jump, and kneeling jump. It is more suitable for athletes, particularly for soccer, basketball, and netball players who want to maximize their speed, power, strength, endurance, and agility.

Example of Anaerobic Plyometrics Workout

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds at a quick pace with little to no rest between exercises.

Round 1Round 2Round 3
Ankle HopsSplit JumpVertical Jumps
Squat JumpSkater Jumps Alternate Lunge Jump
Jumping JacksBroad JumpTuck Jump
Mountain ClimbersPlyo PushupsKneeling Squat Jump

5. Ballistic Workout Training

The ballistic workout training is another good example of an anaerobic workout. It includes high-intense exercises that increase speed and power and improve athleticism and performance.2 Eight weeks of ballistic exercise improves power independently of changes in strength and muscle fiber type expression – Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

This training helps maximize the acceleration phase of an object’s movement and minimize the deceleration phase, as well as improve neural factors, including motor-unit recruitment, firing frequency, and intra- and inter-muscular coordination.3 Ballistic Training – Wikipedia

Tossing or throwing medicine balls as hard and fast as possible and jumping with weights are examples of ballistic exercises.

6. Rowing

Rowing Machine Workout

Rowing is an excellent full-body exercise with both aerobic and anaerobic components. It helps increase strength, power, endurance, and speed.

Rowing involves various muscle groups throughout the body, especially the back, biceps, and core, and helps improve body composition.

It is suitable for people of all fitness levels, whether male or female. So, you can incorporate rowing into your anaerobic workout routine to strengthen and tone your muscles, build lean mass, and improve bone density.

Example of 20 minutes of rowing for building Anaerobic fitness:

  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Activity: 30 seconds rowing at 85% to 95% of your maximum heart
  • Recovery Period: 1 minute
  • Total rounds: 12

7. Sledgehammer Training

Sledgehammer Training

Sledgehammer training is a total body high-intensity exercise that involves striking a tire with a hammer at maximum effort.

It relies on immediate energy sources stored within the muscles to slam the hammer, unlike aerobic exercises.

Sledgehammer tire slams are an excellent way to stimulate strength, power, and explosiveness.

It also helps you build a shredded and muscular physique while enhancing your functional and athletic fitness.

Example of a 15-Minute Sledgehammer Workout

  • Sledgehammer Slams: Do 10 slams as fast as possible, take a 45-second break, and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Sledge Hammer Rotational Slam: Strike the tire 10 times with each arm with maximum effort, keeping the rest time short.
  • Alternating Tire Slam: Strike the tire from your right side, followed by the left one, for as long as possible, take a short interval, and repeat.
  • Perform the above three variations for 15 minutes to boost your anaerobic fitness.

8. Sled Training

Sled Training

Sled training is a strength and endurance exercise that involves pushing and pulling the sled from one place to another with maximum effort for 10-20 seconds.

It works on various muscles simultaneously, including the arms, shoulders, abdominals, and legs, and helps build a sturdy and aesthetic body.

Athletes from all sports use sled training to maximize their cardiovascular fitness, increase strength, and improve body composition.

Example of a 15-minute High-Intensity Sled Workout

  • 15-sec Sled Push at a fast pace, 1-minute rest
  • 15-sec Sled Push at high intensity, 1-minute rest
  • Perform five to six rounds.

9. Bicycling

cardio workout plan

Cycling doesn’t only have aerobic advantages but also has anaerobic components. For example, while cycling at maximum effort, your body breaks down glucose for energy without using oxygen.

Bicycling is a great way to enhance cardiovascular functions and scale up metabolism. A study demonstrated that cycling reduces the risk of cancer, increases strength and endurance, reduces weight, and increases life expectancy.4 Health benefits of cycling: A systematic review – Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports

Example of an Anaerobic Cycling Workout Routine

  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Activity: 30 seconds rowing at 85% to 95% of your maximum heart
  • Recovery Period: 1 minute
  • Total rounds: 12

10. Tabata

Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that involves performing 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. One circuit of Tabata lasts 4 minutes, and one session of Tabata workout is usually performed for 20 minutes.

The goal of this workout training is to keep your heart rate elevated for as long as possible during each set, which means you need to push yourself hard enough so that you are working at your maximum capacity but not so hard that you burn out before the end of the exercise period.

Tabata has various health benefits, for example, it helps improve cardiovascular fitness, accelerates fat loss, and increases maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), endurance, speed, and power.

Here’s an example of 20-minute Tabata workout

RoundMinute 1Minute 2Minute 3Minute 4
1Jumping JacksMountain ClimbersKneeling JumpFlutter Kick
2Squat JumpPush-UpsCrunchesShoulder Tap
3BurpeesShoulder TapJumping Split SquatLeg Raises
4High KneesKneeling JumpJumping JacksLeg Raises
5Front Box JumpBicycle CrunchesShoulder TapFlutter Kick

11. Swimming


Like rowing, swimming also has both aerobic and anaerobic components.

During anaerobic swimming, your body is unable to utilize oxygen as an energy source and fails to fulfill the muscles’ demand for oxygen.

The anaerobic type of swimming requires great effort and will only be sustained for two minutes or less.

This type of swimming helps you build your lactic threshold, increase muscle strength, promote cardiovascular fitness, and kindle significant calories in a short time.

You can do short distances anaerobic swimming for the desired period of time.

12. Jumping Rope

Jumping Rope HIIT Workout

Jumping rope may be considered both aerobic and anaerobic activity. It depends on the intensity of your training. And to make jumping rope an anaerobic workout, you should have to perform as fast as possible without focusing on breathing. It involves different muscles of the body at once, such as arms, legs, and the core.

The jumping rope has myriad health benefits, including better heart health, lower blood sugar, weight loss, better VO2 max, and much more.

Example of Jumping Rope Routine:

  • Duration: 15 Minutes
  • Activity: 30 seconds (perform as quickly as possible)
  • The number of sets: 8-10
  • Recovery time between sets: 60 seconds

13. Battle Rope Training

Battle Rope HIIT Workout in the gym

The battle rope workout improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. It is part of intense training programs, such as HIIT and functional fitness.

It bolsters multiple muscles throughout the body, especially the shoulder, arms, and core.

As an intense workout, battle rope torches numerous calories, improves cardiovascular fitness, and scales your fitness level.

However, it requires decent energy and endurance to perform efficiently.

Example of a 10-minute battle rope workout:

  • Activity: 15 seconds at your max effort
  • Rest: 45 seconds
  • Rounds: 10

14. Boxing Punches

Throwing hard punches on the boxing bag is another good way to improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness.5 The Effects of Intermittent Hypoxic Training on Anaerobic and Aerobic Power in Boxers – International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Boxing has four kinds of punches: the jab, the cross, the hook, and the uppercut.

The jab punch is a short and quick punch that is used mainly for defense and counterattacks.

The cross punch is a short, quick, and powerful punch that can be used to attack your opponent’s head or body.

The uppercut punch is a powerful punch that is thrown with a lot of force.

The hook is another powerful punch that comes from strength and speed in an arc motion to hit the side of the chin or neck.

You can throw all these punches on a boxing bag at your maximum effort to elevate your anaerobic fitness.

The Bottom Line

Anaerobic exercises break down glucose for energy without using oxygen. It includes exercises of very short duration, such as sprinting, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and powerlifting.6 Aerobic vs anaerobic exercise training effects on the cardiovascular system – World Journal of Cardiology

Studies have shown that anaerobic exercises have a positive effect on lipid profiles, cardiovascular health, and overall life quality.

Research also suggests including short bouts of anaerobic training to reduce fat mass and improve metabolism.7 Short bouts of anaerobic exercise increase non-esterified fatty acids release in obesity – European Journal of Nutrition

Anaerobic workouts are also excellent for athletes and fitness enthusiasts who want to maximize their endurance, power, speed, agility, and strength.

However, it is not suitable for all fitness levels, especially for people with cardiovascular disease, past injuries, and any health issues. So, it’s best to consult with your doctor or physical trainer before you do any kind of anaerobic workout.


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Murshid Akram
I'm an online personal trainer, fitness blogger, and fitness enthusiast. I love researching and writing about exercise and nutrition. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.

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