By Zoid Fitness Team on Dec 3, 2019 10:39:18 AM
Agility is the ability of a person to move swiftly in a certain direction before decelerating and quickly shifting towards a different direction. It's a flashy type of move you'll see on the football field quite often this fall, and it happens within seconds. For such acceleration and deceleration to be possible, it takes a lot of practice. Anyone can show flashes of agility here and there, but to do it well and to do it consistently, you'll need to regularly partake in a series of training exercises.
Every individual involved in sports, athletic activities, or a physical hobby can benefit from training their bodies for such swift movements. These exercises are commonly known as agility drills, and they help by not only strengthening your muscles and joints to improve your performance, but also by giving your brain practice in working with your body to execute such shifty moves.
If you're looking to improve your agility, whether you're a weekend warrior, a college athlete, or just a fitness guru, below are 3 common agility training exercises that you should consider. These methods can help you build your speed, power, coordination, and of course your overall performance after just a few weeks of dedicated exercise.
Of course, one thing to keep in mind about agility training -- and really, about any sports training -- is that you must start slowly and stay focused and committed. It doesn’t matter whether you're a an athlete, a trainer, or just a person who loves going to the gym for physical fitness — these training programs are fit for anyone who wants to improve agility if you have the dedication to stick with it for a few weeks.
- Speed and Agility Ladder Drills
Anyone interested in speed and motion coordination should consider agility ladder drills. If you think that the speed ladder is only used by elite sports players, think again. You can take advantage of one in your local gym or even in your own back yard as long as you get the right training and know how to properly use one.
An agility or speed ladder is usually 10 yards long, and you can find one in most sports specialty stores, including online stores like ours. They're actually one of the more affordable pieces of training equipment on the market and a wise investment for any athlete.
Types of Agility Ladder Drills
Exercises that you can do using an agility ladder include sideways shuffles, skipping, hopping, running, and other movements up and down the ladder. Most speed ladders exercises will help in working out your lower body. To achieve the best results within a few weeks, you will need to incorporate many of the below workouts into your daily workout routine. Once you start your program, follow it religiously, and within time you will improve your agility.
- Ladder Linear Run
This is a ladder drill that involves running down the ladder in each box, while slightly touching the ground. You can move faster towards the center, then back to the beginning -- or run to the end and then back from where you began. Repeat these movements and as you get comfortable and improve, continue increasing your speed.
- High Knees
Stand with both feet on the first box and then lift your knees all the way to waist level. Start running across the ladder with your knees still high and your arms bent at 90 degrees. However, to generate momentum when running, swing your hand back and forth to the 90 degrees position. Continue with the routine until you reach your target repetitions.
iii. Lateral Quick Steps
Place your agility ladder on your right side and begin running laterally from one box to the next. To make the exercise more productive, step on each box, lift your ankles, and move swiftly. Keep this position throughout the diagonal sprinting and repeat the same several times.
- In-and-Out Agility Ladder Drill
With this drill, you need to begin with the agility ladder laying in front of you. Hop to the first box and land with two feet at the center of the box. Before landing in the next box forward, hop and spread your legs in the air in a way that your feet are outside the ladder. Next, hop to the third box by landing with both feet at the center of the box. Repeat this pattern across the ladder back and forth until you reach your target repetitions.
These are among the most common ladder drills that can easily help you with enhancing agility. Try as many as you can and see which are your favorites and how much you can improve at each one over time.
The Benefits of Agility Ladder Drills
Agility ladder training is an important aspect in the training routine of many elite athletes who are looking to improve their performance on the field. The main benefits of embracing this type of exercise include improved speed, better coordination when making swift moves, and enhanced body and mind strength. If you can stick to your routine exercise program, then it will only take few weeks to get to your target agility goals. Plus, agility ladder drills are great for your overall cardio health!
- Plyometric Agility Exercises
Plyometric agility exercises are more intense compared to agility ladder drills, and for this reason, you should not do them on your own until you've worked with or observed a trained professional to develop a level of comfort with this type of exercise. However, it's worth the commitment, as most common plyometric programs will greatly improve your agility with a few weeks of implementing them into your workouts. These exercises will mostly work on your muscle strength, speed, and power, and they include jumps, hops, and other bounding movements.
Types of Plyometric Exercises
- Plyometric Agility Hurdles
This exercise involves jumping forward and up while clearing each hurdle in front of you. Make sure you land on the balls of your feet, and with every jump your hands should be up on air for balance. Keep the momentum going until you clear all the hurdles and repeat the routine 10 times before resting. You can do the same drill with one leg, whereby you jump-walk with your right leg first followed by left one until you are done with all the hurdles.
- Plyometric Box Drills
A box drill is an agility training exercise that is commonly used to build foot speed and power. The boxes you use can be of different sizes, and padded or unpadded — the choice is all yours (or your trainer’s, if you choose to work with one).
There are a few different ways you can complete box drills:
- For a less intense workout, stand in front of the box, then step on it using one leg. Bring up the other leg to be able to stand on the box on two feet before stepping back down. Repeat the same drill with each leg 10 times.
- For a more intense workout, rather than stepping on the box, you can jump. Stand in front of the box and then jump on it, landing with your two feet at the same time. Jump back down, and then up again. Repeat this drill for at least 10 rounds and do at least 3 sets of the same.
All plyometric exercises are quite useful in improving agility and performance, especially for people participating in sports requiring jumping and landing.
However, it is important to avoid vulnerable positions that may bring forth injuries. Always start small and slow, and allow yourself to grow gradually. One of the reasons why you might not want to dive headfirst into plyometric agility exercises without working with a trainer or observing an experienced gym enthusiast partake in this type of exercise first is because the jumping and hopping nature of these drills can result in falls or injuries without proper preparation. While landing, avoid twisting your body or moving sideways, as this can throw off your balance and cause a painful fall.
Other tips to help you stay healthy and make the most of plyometric jump exercises include:
- Only do plyometric exercises if you are in good physical condition
- Always start with a warm-up and then follow with small jumps at the beginning before building to larger jumps
- Rest in between your plyometric routine and if any pain occurs, stop immediately
- Look for the right footwear and work out from a cushioned or soft surfaces, since falls are unpredictable, especially when doing box jumps
- Tuck Jumps
A tuck jump is an agility exercise that is very good for strengthening your lower body and improving agility. Once you master the exercise, you'll find a noticeable improvement in your jumping ability. And, one of the best things about tuck jumps is that they're easy to do without any expensive supplies or equipment.
How to Do a Tuck Jump
With this drill, you just need a string or some masking tape, which you will lay on the ground of your exercising area (but make sure the floor is not concrete). While standing beside the line you made with the string or tape, and with your legs slightly apart, squat and then propel yourself upwards into the air. To absorb the shock when landing, squat deeply on your way down to land softly. You can pause for a few seconds before jumping up again, or jump immediately upon landing. Repeat this drill in one-minute sets for three times.
When doing tuck jumps, avoid leaning towards the knees, and instead, ensure your knees are up to your chest level. For a momentum increase, try to swing your hands up and down.
It may seem hard at the beginning when you find yourself making very small jumps, but don't get frustrated or give up, because with more practice and experience comes great results.
Benefits of Tuck Jumps
- Tucks jumps are good at improving your heart rate, among other cardiovascular benefits
- With tuck jumps, your whole body is involved, and this means that you will burn a lot of calories within a short amount of time
- The exercise works out your lower body and leaves it properly toned and strengthened
Whether you're looking forward to improving your agility for your sports league, for fitness purposes, or maybe to help you become a better trainer for others, these three agility training methods can help you reach your goals and excel. On top of just improving your agility, these exercises will also help you boost your speed, power, and overall fitness level.
Remember, just like you used to have fun skipping around and umping up and down when you were young, you can have fun doing any of these exercises. Approach them with the right mindset and they'll become one of the most enjoyable -- and most beneficial -- aspects of your workout routine.
If you're looking for any additional information, training tips, or agility exercise suggestions as you embark on or continue your fitness journey, head over to the Movements and Drills page and we'll be happy to point you in the right direction!