By Zoid Fitness Team on Nov 15, 2019 6:00:00 AM
When it comes to ways to increase speed and agility, hard work, time and effort are the first things which come to mind. In fact, this holds true for nearly any aspect of physical fitness or athletic improvement and is the reason you spend so much time in the gym and playing fields practicing, practicing and practicing.
However, we are also products of our modern world which means that when we want something done, we want it done NOW (as in, RIGHT NOW!), which is not the way it typically works--especially when it comes to athletic gains, which take time and commitment to develop.
But, even though there is no way of getting around the hard work, you can still see marked improvements to your speed and agility in as little as 4-weeks if you do it right. Clearly this doesn't involve simply snapping your fingers or taking the right pill for overnight success since as we all know, it simply doesn't work that way.
Of course, if you DO know how to improve your performance with magic pills or finger-snapping please fill us in since that would be knowledge worth more than gold!
However, getting back to reality, 4-weeks is a reasonable time frame for improvement, especially when you add your solid work ethic along with some careful management of your time and recovery periods.
Plus, improving your vertical leap, foot speed, coordination and balance is worth its weight in gold, no matter how much time these aspects take to develop. This makes the 4-week plan at least as valuable as, what, silver? Diamonds?
Perhaps, though more importantly, here is how it's done.
Zero to Agile in 4-Weeks Flat?
Okay, so let's start with a small disclaimer: yes, you can improve your speed and agility in 4-weeks, though this doesn't mean you can reach peak fitness in the same amount of time. In fact, peak fitness may be a subjective term when you consider the continuous improvements which can be made with the right work ethic and commitment.
Regardless, reaching the top of your game isn't something which can be done in a mere 4-weeks, at least not safely or legally.
You can however see marked improvements in your speed, agility and quickness (SAQ) in as little as 4-weeks by sticking to your program and working hard. This involves working on your SAQ between 3 and 4 times per week, with each session lasting around 90-minutes including warm-up, cool-down and stretching.
It should also be emphasized that this means 90-minutes of quality work, NOT 90-minutes of as much work as you can fit in. This is because when it comes to honing your skills, quality beats quantity every time. Merely jamming in as much work as possible will not only put you at risk for poor form and limited--if any--gains, it is also a recipe for injury and over training.
Better yet, you need to base your number of weekly sessions on how long it takes for full recovery from each previous session. This is important, since merely working out as often as possible without rest will have a negative effect on both your form and fitness and can nullify everything you're trying to achieve in the first place. This is because when you work your muscles, you are breaking them down and causing tiny tears in the fibers. Your body then repairs these tears to be even stronger, and it is this continuous process of breaking muscles down and repairing them which makes them to gain strength.
Again though, this can't happen without enough time between workouts to completely allow your muscles to fully repair themselves.
There is also your form and injury prevention to think of. For instance, let's say you're a race car driver and each week you have a race which puts lots of wear-and-tear on the engine and running gear of your vehicle. Of course, this means rebuilding it during the week to have it in top working condition for race day.
However, let's say you only changed the tires and left the engine and suspension alone, causing the car's performance to suffer along with your ability to be competitive.
Even worse, the car would stand a greater chance of breaking down due to worn parts, and safety issues also arise from loose running gear--not to mention flying engine shrapnel once the engine goes kaput. Plus, the more parts wear, the faster they would wear, since as tolerances fade more movement, play and friction is created between parts.
Likewise, muscles which are tired from extended sessions of speed and agility work can't provide the kind of support which fresh, strong, fully recovered muscles can. This means that as your strength fades with fatigue, so does your form and technique, and continuing to practice with poor muscle support means you are also practicing with poor form. Remember that it is muscle memory you are establishing, and muscles remember what they are taught whether it is right or wrong. Once poor form is established, it then becomes even harder to "erase the board" and start over again, since relearning also requires unlearning the bad habits.
This also goes along with the need to allow at least 24 hours to "rebuild the race car (that would be you)" with plenty of rest between hard sessions, which further reduces the amount of work you can fit into your week. This is why you need around 4-weeks for good, noticeable gains, even if you are working as hard as you can.
Have a Heart
Along with your muscle fitness, your cardiovascular fitness also needs time to develop. For instance, the more fit you become the faster your heart will return to its resting rate. This is important since after completing one set and before starting another, your heart rate needs to return to around 65% of your maximum heart rate (MHR), which limits the number of sets you can perform in a certain time.
Of course, this means that you need to first find your MHR, which can be done using a number of formulas, the easiest of which is the Fox formula.
To find your MHR using the Fox formula, simply subtract your age from 220 and the remainder is likely your MHR, although factors such as BMI, genetics and fitness also affect your MHR, meaning the Fox formula isn't always accurate.
For instance, while the Fox formula works well for younger athletes, it is based on having the same BMI no matter your age which, as we all know, isn't typically how it works. This along with other factors means that some "customizing" is necessary in determining your true MHR, which can be done by tracking your heart rate taken directly after maximum efforts and averaging it out. You can do this using the old-school method of counting beats on you wrist while watching your watch, or better yet, use a heart rate monitor (HRM) which is easier and also allows you to continue monitoring your heart rate throughout your workout (recommended). However, if you do use the watch-and-count method, count your beats for 15-seconds and then multiply by 4 rather than continuing to count for an entire minute. Not only will doing this save you time and help avoid the old "whoopsy, lost count--got to start over again..." scenario, it will give you a more accurate MHR. This is because your heart slows through the course of a full minute--especially as your conditioning improves--where as it is likely to be ripping along at full pace during the first 15-seconds.
You should also become familiar with your resting heart rate (RHR), which should ideally be measured just after flickering awake in the morning and before getting out of bed, having coffee or anything else which could elevate your heart rate. Yes, that too, as if you had to ask...sheesh!
This is important since a high RHR is a sign of over training, and if it is elevated in the morning you need to give yourself another day-or-so of rest until it returns to normal.
The good news is that the fitter you are, the faster your heart will return to its resting rate, which means you can increase the intensity and frequency of your sessions over time. This holds especially true if you are using such training methods as high intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a recommended method of meeting your 4-week goals.
Proven Ways for 4-Week Gains
The next part of the equation in increasing your speed and agility is workout intensity. As much as we love to poke fun at old school methods and point out how backward most are (salt pills and limited fluids during heat-of-the-day workouts anyone?), the one which does hold true is the classic "no pain not gain."
This isn't to say that every single workout should be turned up to 11, since low intensity days of active recovery are also necessary between hard days. However, you do need to push it into the red on your hard days for maximum results.
For instance, when performing HIIT workouts, your intervals should be pushed to 70-90% of your maximum heart rate before backing off and allowing your heart rate to return to 60-65% of max, then repeating. While you may think, "What about just pegging it at 90% and trying to keep it there for as long as possible without returning to 60-65%? Wouldn't that speed things up?"
Well no, since the only thing staying in the red will accomplish is:
- Spiking your stress hormones
- Disrupting your endocrine system
- Putting you at greater risk of injury
- Possible long-term heart damage
So no, wide open all the time isn't the way to go, even if you can take the pain.
And Finally: Customizing Your Plan
The final part of increasing your speed and agility in 4-weeks is to customize a workout plan which fits your needs.
This is because not everyone is training for the same sport, and some of us may be even be doing SAQ workouts simply because they are a fun and versatile way to light up body fat and stay in shape. This is why you need to add SAQ drills which are specific to your needs so that you can hone the exact skills and muscle groups relating to your sport--even if you don't have one.
The best way to do this is to visit Zoid Academy for a rundown of the best drills and movements to add to your plan. And while you're there, you can check out Zoid's amazingly versatile, one-of-a-kind agility tool which should also be part of your 4-week speed and agility plan.
Ready to get started? Great!
Zoid is ready to help make you a champ.