By Zoid Fitness Team on Nov 22, 2019 6:00:00 AM
Regardless of your age, job, or fitness level, anyone can experience the performance benefits of adding agility training to their fitness routine. You may be already considering adding agility training to your workout routine, but you're not sure where or how to start. This blog post will provide an overview of why agility training is an essential addition to your regular workout routine, as well as a discussion on the frequency with which an athlete should partake in agility training along with some tips for specific drills you can try with an agility ladder. Agility ladders are a popular way to agility train and are also an efficient and straightforward way to integrate agility training into your already established fitness routine. Keep reading as we answer some important questions you may have when it comes to agility training.
Why is it essential to add agility training to your fitness routine?
Agility has to do with your reaction time and your ability to move or change direction with precision and ease. No matter how good of an athlete you once were as a young teen, as you get older, both your mental and physical agility begins to deteriorate. By integrating agility training into your workout, you can inhibit this effect of maintain peak performance for many years to come. Whether you're a nutritionist, a fitness expert, or still earning your degree as you pursue college athletics, agility exercises should be an essential part of your exercise routine.
Agility exercises support your well-being and are a vital component of training. Agility enables you to not only physically move quicker on your feet, but to mentally think faster as well. Agility drills aim to improve that dual physical/mental quickness while enhancing your natural reflexes within the body. Overall, these exercises can pay off in many ways, both in athletics and in life, and you'll find that you're able to enjoy greater ease in almost everything that you do. When you feel more agile, you can move through life -- or the court, field, or rink -- with greater confidence and self-assurance.
Agility exercises are designed to specifically improve your athletic skills. Some activities hone in on improving your dynamic balance, whereas others focus more on reactivity, quickness, or coordination. Adding a time segment of agility exercises to your already established exercise routine, if suitably challenging and engaging, switches up your routine to make it more varied, exciting, unique, and beneficial. As you add agility training to your fitness plan, vary the actual exercises from day-to-day to keep things fresh, and so that the agility portion of your routine is something you can look forward to doing.
What is the best agility drill frequency?
As an athlete, being quicker and nimbler means better performance. An effective way to achieve better performance as an athlete is by adding agility training to your workout routine. So, once you add this layer of training to your routine, what's the recommended frequency at which you should practice your agility?
Just as strength training and aerobic interval training have rules, so does agility training. Some athletes tend to overdo certain aspects of their training, so a general rule of thumb when it comes to agility training to remember is that less is more. You want to think of agility training merely as a layer you are adding to your regime to sharpen or fine-tune everything to improve the "complete package" you're working on. If you compared agility training to the sharpening a pencil, all it takes is a few cranks around every so often, and before you know it, you are all sharpened and ready to go.
You also want to keep in mind that you need to give yourself adequate rest intervals for your neuromuscular system to fully restore between workouts. On average, experts recommend athletes dedicate four days a week of agility training into a workout routine, and one of the best times to implement agility training is right after your warmup routine.
By integrating agility training four days a week, you work to acclimate your body and develop muscle memory. While some days, you may inevitably train harder than others, it's essential to keep your overall performance in mind, and that comes through your consistency and dedication. Agility training is about quality over quantity.
How to increase agility once you have integrated agility training into your overall fitness routine
One of the keys to agility training is approaching this part of your workout routine with your peak output. Putting forth maximum effort and completing the task at your quickest speed will lead to better results on the field or during other activities in the gym. By continuing to train at your peak output for each agility segment of your overall fitness routine, you'll notice increased agility over time. If you're giving it your all in the gym, things will seem even easier when you're out there on the gridiron against your opponents.
There are several different types of agility exercises that you can integrate into your routine. Whichever agility exercise you choose to implement as you work to improve your overall athletic fitness, the main goal is to perform better with each repetition. Practical agility training will translate into a better performance as an athlete, whether under pressure on the baseball field, basketball court, or as a professional trainer working in a gym.
What are some examples of agility training exercises to implement into your overall fitness routine?
If you don't have one already, pick up an agility ladder. It's one of the most simple and affordable pieces of gym equipment you can buy, but also one of the most useful and versatile. Generally, an agility ladder is made from nylon, plastic, rubber, or rope and can come in various lengths and sizes.
Doing agility ladder drills is a great way to mix up your workouts. These drills and associated exercises target the lower body, specifically your leg and core muscles. Agility ladder drill exercises also develop added strength in your hamstring muscles and hip area, improve your joint flexibility, and boost the overall endurance of your entire body.
Lying an agility ladder parallel down on the ground provides many options for agility training exercises. The idea when partaking in agility latter drills is to keep your eyes up, rather than focused down on the ladder. Practicing these drills over time can benefit athletes like you with increased coordination and foot speed. However, adding agility ladder drill exercises to your regular workout routine is an effective way to promote general well-being for anyone, not just athletes.
The suggested timeframe for performing most popular agility ladder drill exercises is 60 second intervals at a time, followed by 20 seconds of rest. Once you finish an entire circuit (a full set of all of the drills suggested below), take a longer, two-minute rest. Continue by challenging yourself to repeat your choice of exercises to make up a circuit set, and then complete a total of three circuit sets in a row. You probably won't be able to tackle three circuits right off the bat without feeling completely drained and needing a break, but it's a great goal to work towards.
The following are some popular ladder drill exercises to improve your agility or add to your exercise routine:
An easy agility ladder drill exercise to try at first if you are unfamiliar with using an agility ladder is the one-foot run. Begin by placing one foot inside the first ladder box square. Next, put your other foot inside the next ladder box, so that only one foot is in each ladder box at a time, moving as quickly as possible to the last ladder box. When you reach the last ladder box, turn around so you can run back to the start of the ladder and repeat.
The next agility training exercise that's both effective and fun is a true classic: hopscotch. Yes, that's right -- you can play this popular playground game as part of your agility workout! Begin by placing both feet inside the first ladder box square. Continue by hopping forward and landing with a foot on each side of the second ladder box. Continue moving in this pattern until you reach the end of the ladder. When you reach the last ladder box, turn around and head back to the start of the ladder.
Squat and Hop
Increase the intensity of your agility training and step it up a notch by adding the "squat and hop" drill to your routine using your agility ladder. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart in the first square of the ladder. Jump forward one square, spreading your legs to land in a squat position, where each foot is just outside the ladder box of that square. Continue by quickly jumping to the next square, landing with both feet inside the ladder. When you reach the last ladder box, turn around and head back the other way.
Sidestep Toe Touches
Another mid-level agility training exercise to try with an agility ladder are sidestepping toe touches. Begin this exercise by facing the left ladder rail, standing inside the first ladder box, with your knees slightly bent. Jump on your right foot, moving forward two squares, then with your left toe, tap your right ankle, then jump left leg back one square. Continue like this until you reach the last ladder box. Turn your body so you can head back to the start of the ladder and repeat a few rounds on your right foot, then swiftly change directions to jump with the left foot.
Single-Leg Forward Hop
The single-leg forward hop is yet another training exercise to try with your agility ladder. This exercise will help work your core and equilibrium. You will be using a single leg to hop forward through each ladder box. Begin by standing in the front of the ladder, and then lift one foot off the ground — next, hop-forward through the square on the opposite foot. Continue hopping on the one foot into each ladder box until you reach the last one. Then, turn around so that you run backward towards the start of the ladder and repeat the task. Do a few rounds on your right leg, then switch to your left.
Increase your agility training endurance at the end of your routine by using your ladder box to add some plank jack exercises. Plank jacks work your shoulders, core, and buttocks. Begin in a push-up position, placing your hands inside the third ladder square. As you walk your hands forward into the next square, jump your feet wide, so they land outside of the ladder, then back together. Continue this way until you reach the end of the ladder, then stand up and turn around so you can head back the other way.
Of course, these are just a few specific suggestions, but the sky is the limit when it comes to agility training with an agility ladder.