Every training program is developed with a certain goal in mind. Maybe your goals are as simple as losing fat, being stronger, or hitting a new PR on your overhead press. While many programs include movements on varying planes (horizontal pressing/pulling, vertical pressing/pulling, knee/hip extensions, etc.), there's another area that often gets left behind: speed and agility training.
Agility is the ability to change direction quickly. It mostly involves the muscles in your legs and around your hips. Most athletes would benefit from such an addition to their program, and no equipment is necessarily required. Furthermore, it would hardly take any extra time and can be added in as a finisher or even replace a cardio session.
Three Dimensional Movements
Let's talk about which planes of movement we'll be training: there's left to right/right to left movement; forward and backward movement; and vertical movement. While these may seem fairly logical, training these movements may not come so naturally. Following are some of my favorite speed and agility training exercises that require no equipment, but a sufficient amount of space:
As for moving forward, we do enough of this with sprints and walking. When it comes to sprinting there are two basic ways to do it without injuring yourself. Generally, track sprinting should be left to the actual sprinters (that is, those who do it for sport).
For the rest of us, do hill sprints or use a sled. Both force you to lean forward and drive with the hips, putting you in correct sprinting form almost automatically. The resistance (either from the sled or steepness of the hill) will shorten the range of motion, reducing the chance of your hamstring leaving town or any other possible injury.
One way you can implement the four basic movements listed above is by putting them together into a ladder circuit. Using the width of a basketball court or something similar, do a lap (back and forth) of each one once, then twice, then three times, and so on. Your hips and legs will experience fatigue within five minutes of max effort with these speed and agility training exercises your first few times.
If you feel like you want to increase the work without increasing invested time, wear a weighted vest. Otherwise you can ladder back down once you've laddered up as far as you can go, completing a pyramid set. If you already to some sort of sprinting once or twice a week, use this agility circuit as your warm-up.
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