You know the importance of weight training, cardio workouts, and stretching, but how often do you think about improving your agility? Agility is the ability to move quickly on your feet, and incorporating this kind of training into your workout routine can help improve your speed, strengthen your lower body, and reduce your risk of injury. Plus—like high-intensity interval training—it seriously ups your calorie burn, thanks to all the extra muscles it calls into play.
Another serious benefit: Agility training is fun. That’s probably why you see so many athletes and Instagram trainers—like Lita Lewis, a certified trainer and U by Kotex Fitness partner—posting their coordination work, using tools like cones and ladders, on social media. “I love agility training because it provides a healthy balance to my weight training,” Lewis says. “It’s functional movement that lets me move my body like a real athlete.”
Even if you’re not gunning to be the next Serena Williams or Abby Wambach, you can reap the rewards of agility training. “Agility ladder workouts are great for targeting the lower body, specifically fast-twitch muscles. You'll develop strength and endurance in your hamstrings and hip flexors as well as improve joint flexibility,” Lewis says.
Here, Lewis pulls together 10 agility exercises for a circuit workout that will fire up your lower body, skyrocket your heart rate, and seriously make you sweat (that’s a good thing!). The best part? You’ll be able to check “work out” off your to-do list in under 45 minutes.
How to use this list: You’ll need an agility ladder (which you can find on Amazon for less than $15). Perform each move for 60 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds between moves. Once you finish all 10 exercises, rest for 2-3 minutes, then repeat the circuit two more times for a total of 3 sets.
1. Lateral Jumps With Agility Ladder
Stand to the left of the first square of the ladder, feet shoulder-width apart. Lower nearly into a squat, then drive through heels to pop off ground and jump into the ladder square diagonally in front of feet. Immediately pop off the ground again to jump to the right side of that ladder square. Continue moving forward quickly. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the start and repeat.
2. Two Jumps Forward, One Jump Back
Stand in the first square of the ladder, feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent, torso hinging forward. Drive through heels to jump forward two ladder squares. Upon landing, immediately jump back one back. Continue moving forward two squares and back one. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the start and repeat.
3. Squat Out / Hop In
Stand in the first square of the ladder, feet shoulder-width apart. Jump forward one square, spreading legs wide to land in a squat with one foot on each side of the ladder. Quickly jump to the next square, landing with both feet inside the ladder. Continue moving forward. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the start and repeat.
4. Single-Leg Forward Hop
Stand in front of the ladder. Lift left foot off the ground then hop forward through the squares on the right foot. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the start and repeat. Do 30 seconds on one side, then switch.
5. Lateral Lunges
Stand facing the right ladder rail. Jump into a lunge on your right leg, with the right foot in the first square and the left foot outside the ladder. Jump, switching legs in mid-air, so the left foot is in the square. Jump and switch legs again, this time jumping forward to the next square. Continue repeating. At the end of the ladder, run to the start and repeat.
6. Side-Step Toe Touches
Stand inside the first ladder box, facing the left ladder rail, knees slightly bent. Jump right foot forward two squares, tap left toe to right ankle, then jump left leg back one square. Continue moving forward. At the end of the ladder, run to the start and repeat. Do 30 seconds on one side, then switch directions to jump with left foot.
7. Skaters With Toe-Tap In Box
Stand to the left side of the ladder, facing away from the ladder. Jump right foot to the right, landing in a deep lunge and crossing left foot behind the right to tap the left toe into a ladder square. Jump left foot to the left and repeat. Continue alternating.
8. Plank Jacks
Start in a push-up position with hands inside ladder square. Jump feet wide, outside of the ladder, the back together. Walk hands forward into the next square and repeat. At the end of the ladder, run to the start and repeat.
9. Wide to Narrow Push-Ups on Knees
Start in a push-up position on knees, hands on each side of the ladder. Lower chest to ground, then push back up to start and walk hands into the ladder square. Walk hands back out and repeat.
10. Quick Feet
Stand to the right of the ladder, knees slightly bent and torso hinged forward. Tap left foot into ladder square, then bring it to meet the right foot, taking a quick step forward with the right foot. Continue moving forward. At the end of the ladder, run to the start and repeat. Perform 30 seconds on one side, then switch directions to tap right foot into the ladder squares.