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 (HIIT) — it seriously ups your calorie burn, thanks to all the extra muscles it calls into play.
Another benefit: Agility training is fun.
That’s probably why you see so many athletes and trainers — like Lita Lewis, a certified trainer and U by Kotex Fitness partner — posting their coordination work, using tools like cones and ladders, on Instagram.
“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 less than 45 minutes.
How to use this list: You’ll need an agility ladder (which you can find on Amazon for less than $30). Perform each move for 60 seconds and rest for 20 seconds between moves. Once you finish all 10 exercises, rest for 2–3 minutes, and then repeat the circuit twice for a total of 3 sets.
Stand to the left of the first square of the ladder, with feet shoulder-width apart. Lower nearly into a squat, then drive through heels to pop off the ground and jump into the ladder square diagonally in front of your 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 starting point. Repeat.
Stand in the first ladder square with feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, and torso hinging forward. Drive through heels to jump forward two ladder squares.
Upon landing, immediately jump back one square. Continue moving forward two squares and back one. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the starting point. Repeat.
Stand in the first ladder square with feet shoulder-width apart. Jump forward one square, spreading legs wide to land in a squat with feet on either 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 starting point. Repeat.
Stand at the end of the ladder. Lift left foot off the ground, then hop forward through the squares on right foot. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the starting point and repeat. Do 30 seconds on one side, then switch.
Stand facing the right ladder rail. Jump into a lunge on your right leg, with right foot in the first square and left foot outside the ladder. Jump, switching legs in midair, so left foot is in the square.
Jump and switch legs again, this time jumping forward to the next square. Repeat. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the starting point and repeat.
Stand inside the first ladder square, facing the left ladder rail, with 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 back to the starting point and repeat. Do 30 seconds on one side, then switch directions to jump with left foot.
Stand on 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 right to tap left toe into a ladder square. Jump left foot to the left and repeat. Continue alternating.
Start in a push-up position with hands inside a ladder square. Jump feet wide, outside the ladder, then back together. Walk hands forward into the next square and repeat. At the end of the ladder, run back to the starting point and repeat.
Start in a push-up position on your knees, with hands on either side of the ladder. Lower your chest to the ground, then push back up and walk hands into the ladder square. Walk hands back out and repeat.
Stand to the right of the ladder, with knees slightly bent and torso hinged forward. Tap left foot into ladder square, then bring it to meet right foot, taking a quick step forward with right foot. Continue moving forward.
At the end of the ladder, run back to the starting point and repeat. Do 30 seconds on one side, then switch directions to tap right foot into the ladder squares.
Agility training gets your blood pumping and will make you feel muscles you haven’t felt in a while. Grab an agility ladder (or try out the moves without it!) and start building up those reflexes and flexibility.