When I was getting my group fitness certification, we studied the many components of fitness (Agility, balance, coordination, endurance, flexibility, strength , power, speed, etc). Not that ANY of the components are my strong point, but one of my weakest areas is that of agility.
Agility is the ability to move and change direction and position of the body quickly and effectively while under control. It requires quick reflexes, coordination, balance, speed, and correct response to the changing situation, none of which I possess. So, it’s important that I practice some of those skills.
Now, agility ladders aren’t the most expensive workout equipment on the market. But I have found a way to make my own version of an agility ladder, which works great. It’s super portable (even smaller than those you buy in the stores), and it’s basically free. I use items I have around the house to create my own agility training tool.
Using just some shoe strings and plastic lids (which cannot be recycled where I live), I created a version of an agility ladder that I can take wherever I go. If I am at a park and want to bust out a quick cardio workout, exercising with an agility ladder is the way to go.
Agility training doesn’t have to be a whole workout in and of itself. You can use some of the exercises for a warm-up, or section some of your conditioning segment with some agility exercises. But if you want to focus on speed, coordination, and agility for your workout, this might be a fun one to try.
Start Your Engines
Set up one or two agility ladders. You will also need a minute timer set that will go off every minute on the minute for 21 minutes. You can start wherever you like on the list, but go through each exercise for a full minute each. As soon as the timer beeps and starts the next minute, move as quickly as possible to the next exercise.
Once you have completed all the exercises once, rest for one minute, then start again from your beginning set. Try to go a little longer without rest at each station, or do a couple more repetitions the second time around, going a little faster, or performing the exercise a little more powerfully.
- Hopscotch- Start on one end of the agility ladder. Hop on one foot forward, then land on both feet. Alternate hopping forward on opposite foot and landing on both feet. Continue all the way down the ladder, then turn around and head back to the beginning.
- Skier hops- Stand on one side of the agility ladder. Keep both feet together and hop lightly to the other side of the ladder in a slightly forward motion. Hop back and forth, moving slightly forward until you reach the end. You can turn around and repeat hops to the starting point, or you can go back to start in backwards, with reverse skier hops.
- Switchback: Stand on one side of the ladder, facing the ladder. Place one foot over the string and the other foot slightly behind you. In a jumping motion, move up the ladder by switching feet positions as quickly as possible.
- Stampede Squats: Stand on one end of the ladder. While in a slight quarter squat stance, move up the ladder by alternating your feet as fast as you can. Using the lids as your intervals, stampede up to a lid, stop to perform a squat, touching the lid with your fingers, and then stampede to the next lid.
- Jigglypuff: Also known as In-In-Out-Out. Start with your feet on either side of the ladder lines (out). Step your right foot inside, then your left foot inside, then quickly step your right foot outside and forward and your left foot outside and forward. So you move forward with each rep, stepping in-in, and then out-out.
- Walking Plank: Start in a plank position, with shoulders over hands and feet extended all the way. Maintain a tight core, keep back straight and hips centered. Walk one hand out to the side and then bring the opposite hand to meet it. Step your feet to match your hands. Walk all the way from one end of the agility ladder to the other and then back.
- Bee Line: Start at the first lid on the ladder. Run to second lid, touch it, and run back to the first lid. Run to the third lid, and back to the first. Keep going until you reach the last lid and run back to the first, then start all over again. If your ladder is shorter, combine two ladders.
- Shark Dart: Known as the Icky Shuffle, I started calling it Shark Dart a few years ago as an animal themed exercise. Start with both feet outside the ladder on one side. Step your left foot into the ladder and follow with your right foot. Skip your left foot to the left side of the ladder, slightly forward, and bring your right foot off the ground in a slight buttkicker stance. Step your right foot into the ladder, followed by your left foot. Keep moving forward in shuffle gliding movement from one end of the ladder to the other.
- On Thin Ice: Stand in a neutral position. Push off the ground with your right foot while jumping towards the left. Land on your left foot with soft knees and sweep the right leg behind and across (see photos). Reach right fingertips to your left toes. Quickly repeat on the other side.
- Sidewinders: Begin in a plank position with arms planted squarely under shoulders. Keep bak and spine neutral while hopping both feet simultaneously to the right and then left.
As always, do what you can and just do your best. You can always modify these exercises to slow it down and focus on coordination or balance, and then improve your speed and agility later as you repeat the workout or exercises in the future.
Let me know how it goes. Stay healthy and safe. And keep working on being the best version of yourself so we can make the world a little better together.