7 of the Best Workouts to Increase Speed and Agility

When it comes to performance on the field, fast twitch response and injury prevention, workouts to improve speed and agility are your friends. In fact, without agility training drills you not only stand the chance of being burned to the ball, you're also missing out on maximizing all the benefits you could be getting from your workouts.

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This is because agility training takes over where other training leaves off.

This is because not all exercises cover important factors such as balance and coordination since most focus only on strengthening muscles or only on improving cardio fitness. This means they omit other factors which help you improve aspects of your agility.

For instance, in order to be fully effective, a speed and agility drill should:

  • Involve rapid changes in direction
  • Include rapid acceleration and deceleration
  • Utilize dynamic and static balance
  • Involve short, explosive bursts followed by brief active cool downs and repeated
  • Be more than one-dimensional, and instead, promote coordination between two-or-more body regions
  • Require concentration and effort to maintain certain patterns or steps

Altogether, this strengthens your muscles, increases your cardiovascular fitness and burns up fat stores while at the same time sharpening motor skills and agility.

Not only can this help your performance on the sports field and in the gym, it can also help prevent injuries, increase your body awareness and could even help you be more nimble and spry on the dance floor.

And yes, that counts too.

But which exercises do most of--or even any of--these things?

Let's take a look at 7 examples of workouts which best increase your speed and agility:

1. Plyometric box drills--Developing explosive power, vertical leap, balance and controlled footwork are all important for basketball players, volleyball players and other athletes. However, having toned, great-looking legs along with cardiovascular health, improved coordination and foot placement is important whether you play sports of not, which is why plyometric box drills work so well for everyone.

To start, you need sturdy crate, box or bench which is around 2 - 3 feet in height, although use your imagination, especially if you are taking things to the great outdoors. Park benches, playground equipment or even tree stumps or rocks will keep it challenging and interesting so long as the object is stable enough to support your weight and movements.

There are also various drills you can do, with some of the most popular being:

  • Step-ups--Simply begin in front of the box, etc. and step up onto it first with one leg which is used to lift the other side onto the box (think stepping onto a riser one leg at a time), and then back and repeated with the other leg. Do this 10-15 times for one set, and perform 3 sets.
  • Jump-ups--Begin by facing the object with feet shoulder-width apart and knees flexed, and then jump onto it with both feet before hopping backward to the starting position and doing it again. Repeat 10-15 times for one set, and perform 3 sets.
  • Lateral step-overs--Stand sideways to the object and begin by stepping up with one leg before pulling the other up to stand on the object, and continue down to the opposite side and down for one rep. Repeat 10-15 reps for one set, and do 3 sets.

2. Tuck jumps--Another way to develop explosive leaping power, improved coordination, agility and balance is with tuck jumps. They also require no equipment and can be done nearly anywhere.

Despite this, you may want to refrain from them in such places as important business meetings--or at least wait for your client to say something really exciting before launching into a set!

In all seriousness, this wonderfully-simple exercise will strengthen your core, glutes, quads, calves and hip flexors all while improving your coordination, cardio, dynamic balance and agility.

And, like most agility exercises, you'll never be bored doing them either!

To start, stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder width apart and:

  • Bend your knees low in a leaping position
  • Drive upward hard and see how high off the ground you can get
  • While in the air, bring your knees to your chest and wrap them quickly with your arms
  • Immediately repeat as soon as you hit the ground like your shoes are made of super balls
  • Repeat 10-15 times

Each round is one set, and do 2-3 sets per session with active recovery in between.

3. Plyometric agility hurdles--This is another exercise which can benefit nearly any athlete or fitness enthusiast, and also adds an extra element of toughness. For this reason, you need to be sure you are adequately warmed up first, which is something the less-intense box drills come in handy for.

To start, you need a series of low hurdles set 2-feet apart. You can either line up 10-12 at a time for one continuous rep, or use 5-6 and go one direction-and-back-again for a single rep.

Starting with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly flexed:

  • Leap over the first one being sure to land on the balls of your feet
  • immediately jump over the next one and continue without stopping
  • Use your arms at your sides as pendulums to maintain balance and momentum
  • Repeat 2-3 sets being sure to get active recovery in between each

Still not challenging enough for you? Try doing 'em one-leg at a time to find out what you're made of!

4. Lateral plyometric jumps--Whether you're sport requires lateral power and coordination for fast direction changes or you need a fantastic way to strengthen legs, knees hips and core, this challenging drill has something for everyone.

Start on a lawn, gym mat or carpeted floor, (though never on a hard surface such as concrete) and use a piece of tape, cord or other means of marking a line.

Now:

  • Stand on one side of the line facing lengthwise to it with feet shoulder width apart and knees flexed
  • Bend your knees into a deep squatting/leaping position and drive hard off your heels to propel yourself upward and sideways over the line
  • Land softly on the other side and absorb the landing with another deep squat from which you will then spring back over the line in the other direction from
  • Remember to keep your shoulders and hips square and facing forward, and you can either count out 10-15 reps, or go 30-60 seconds for a timed set.
  • Do 3 sets

Once you are proficient and ready for a bigger challenge, try swapping the line for an object to jump over. The object can also be increased in height as you become more fit.

5. Dot drills--This is a great series of exercises for any athlete who's sport demands fast, explosive changes in direction, and is also excellent for strengthening knee and ankle joints for increased stability.

You can either use a dot drill mat or (better yet) Zoid's uniquely-customizable agility drill tools along with tape or other markers for "dots." Using one square, place 4 markers so that 1 is outside each corner, and then 1 in the middle to form the same pattern as "5" on a dice.

Then, for the three main exercises:

  • Start by standing with each foot on one of the two of the dots on one side of the square and jump to the center dot with both feet before jumping once more to the two dots on the opposite side of the square. Repeat going backward for one set.
  • Now, following the same pattern as in the first exercise, jump to the middle dot, although leap and use a 180o mid-air spin to return facing the other direction and repeating.
  • Finally, and again, starting with your feet on two of the dots outside the square and following one foot with the next, step with your right foot to the center dot followed by your left foot to the dot on the other side of the square. Now move your right foot from the center to the outside dot and your left foot back to the center and continue repeating the pattern while increasing the speed until you are moving as fast as possible.

Each exercise should be performed for 3-sets of 6-reps.

6. Forward running high-knee drill--Using simple equipment such as a speed ladder--or better yet, Zoid's super-versatile agility drill system--begin at one end of the ladder, and simply run through while lifting your knees as high as possible with each stride. Be sure to place your steps in the middle of each square, and stay on the balls of your feet while swinging your arms for momentum and balance. Repeat forward-and-back for each set, and do 3 sets.

7. 5-hops and run--This simple drill will help with coordination, timing and balance along with explosive speed and footwork.

Start with your feet shoulder width apart and with knees flexed at one end of the ladder before hopping with both feet through each of the first 5 squares. You need to stay balanced and land on the balls of your feet each time (and again, keep the surface soft here), and once you have complete the 5 hops, you will then switch to running through the rest of the ladder while making sure each step lands in the middle of the next square.

This should be done as hard as you can while maintaining foot control and not missing a square.

Repeat for 3 sets.

Staying Strong, Agile and Fit

You work hard and you work out even harder, so why not get the most from your efforts by including workouts which increase speed and agility? Not only will performing any of these 7 drills help increase both, they all have the added benefit of never being boring.

Plus, since most agility training equipment is simple and easy to transport, you can take your workouts nearly anywhere.

And, when you invest in Zoid's one-of-a-kind agility training tool, it gets even better.

Not only does Zoid's easy-to-use system allow you or your coach to create custom workout regimens, it doesn't involve lots of weight or bulky equipment to move around. Instead, it is made of 100% recycled car tire rubber which can be stowed--and used--nearly anywhere.

And, it is multi-surface, multi-sport, customizable and directional, all in one unique system.

There is also no need to connect any parts so there is nothing to break or fail, and it can be used to create patterns suitable for any workout, no matter the scope of the footwork involved.

So, stay agile, nimble, fast and fit using these 7 speed and agility workouts along with the best agility training tool on the market today--Zoid's.

Doing so you will have you concentrating less on equipment and more on your workouts--and seriously, doesn't that just make you want to break into spontaneous rounds of tuck jumps?

Just watch out for Security--they're onto you!

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