Essentially, Agility is your ability to quickly change positions by making use of quick and controlled movements. The possession of this skill will provide an athlete with a great advantage over their competitors, in almost every-single sport. Agility Ladder training is a common drill used by many different strength and conditioning coaches to improve foot speed, as well as overall conditioning. The American Council on Exercise has actually recommended agility ladder training to help boost foot speed, coordination and body awareness!
Similar to most basketball players, I was introduced to the agility ladder at a young age. It wasn’t until college though that I actually became comfortable enough with the agility ladder to learn how to really benefit from it! Actually, it took a series of 6am “punishment” workouts with some intense agility ladder training for me to understand how useful it can be!
Agility ladder training manages to accomplish all of these at once:
Benefits of the Agility Ladder
Though it was initially used by elite athletes, it has gradually become part of the general training program for weight loss clients and other individuals in need of personal fitness. The agility ladder can be used and benefitted from by nearly anybody, since it has a very low minimum requirement for use. Anybody can use it at some level, and the more you advance in your training the more difficult you can make it!
Inexpensive and Portable
You literally draw an agility ladder on the floor and still get every benefit from it. In fact, it would probably work best being drawn on the floor! The actual agility ladder itself is portable enough to fit in many backpacks, and can easily ride around in your car wherever you go. Mine never leaves my car! You can find a high-quality agility ladder for less than $20 easily, and it does not take-up any unnecessary amount of space.
Agility ladder training can be used as a type of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which allows you to burn the same amount of calories or more in a far-shorter amount of time! Agility ladder exercises are excellent for being used in short-explosive intervals, challenging your body and improving your coordination. Agility ladders are also highly recommended for weight loss since they are low-impact on your joints and tendons. Although they involve fast movements, the range of motion is small and there is no painfully difficult force created with the ground such as with box jumps or depth jumps.
Lowers Risks of Injuries
The agility ladder trains numerous human body functions which are necessary for survival, and effectively works to increase the strength and stability of your muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments all at once! It really is a fantastic and underutilized tool! One of its more unique benefits is that it helps in increasing your strength and resiliency of the elastic fascia and connective tissue in your feet, ankles and rest of lower body. By improving its ability to shorten and lengthen, the agility ladder decreases the risk of injury which normally occur as a result of quick changes in direction or speed.
Ladder training is a fun way to train, it is great for those of you with a short attention span. Whether you just need a change in your cardio routine or you are looking for a new-staple in your fat-burning program, the agility ladder is excellent for people who are easily bored with “normal” workout programs. Ladder training is engaging and very challenging in numerous different ways, allowing you a plethora of different goals to work towards achieving. Along with this, the ladder can burn enough calories that you will never need to churn away at hour long cardio sessions again! 15 to 20 minutes of HIIT with the agility ladder will be more than enough cardio for any day!
Improves your Body Awareness and Movement Skill
For elite athletes, the agility ladder serves in developing specific skills that will help them to perform at their peak, in terms of movement ability. You certainly do not need to be an elite athlete in order to benefit from the use of ladder training, as we all can benefit in the same ways. The ladder helps to increase your rate of force production, something which relates directly to the speed at which your muscles contracts. Your ability to maintain control over a moving center of mass will lead to an improvement in your dynamic balance. Older adults are able to improve their dynamic balance through ladder training, which will help them maintain a high level of fitness as well as overall coordination even at old age. Based on a research by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that was published in April 2004, community based resistance and agility training programs were supported to help lower the risk of fall among older women who have low bone mass. Essentially, whether you just need help walking correctly or you are tuning up for professional sports, you can benefit from getting on the agility ladder!
Enhances Cognitive Performance
Based on a study that was carried out by the Air Force Research Laboratory, it was revealed that agility training is capable of improving your cognitive performance. Since it incorporates components of learning, balance, focus and coordination at the same time, the agility ladder is able to stimulate stronger connections among several brain regions, causing them to work together. For some people, this system of the brain is completely out of sync. Simple agility ladder training can make a huge impact for people who have this difficulty!
Agility Ladder Exercises
The agility ladder can be used in literally hundreds of ways. There are a few exercises which are more-well known than others, but you can use it completely in your own interpretation if you would like! Some of the more famous exercise used with the agility ladder are:
- Running 1-Step in each box
- Running 2-Steps in each box
- Lateral Slide
- Lateral High-Knees
- Icky Shuffle
- Lateral crossovers
My own favorite use for the agility ladder has become as a part of my dynamic warm-up. I will usually use about 10-15 minutes’ worth of agility ladder training to prime my Central Nervous System, as well as working on movement coordination and foot-speed. I actually prefer to do most of my agility ladder training without shoes, in hopes of improving foot strength and elasticity as well! Training this way also works your joint and muscle stability much harder as well!
Whether young or old, the agility will benefit your overall health. Younger athletes can benefit from gaining coordination just as much as older individuals who do not want to lose their coordination, high-level athletes can benefit from increasing their movement-quality and foot speed, and we all can benefit from a form of cardiovascular fat-burning workout which will not bore us to death!
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