When you hear the words "agility training", exercises like speed ladders, plyometric hurdles, shuttle runs, etc. may come to mind - plus the idea that these practices are only important for top-level football, soccer and basketball players.
Sure, athletes such as Adrian Peterson, Lionel Messi, Steph Curry - even Patrick Kane - all perform speed and agility drills to help them rise to the top of their respective sports, but did you know that these same drills have numerous benefits for people who aren’t winning Super Bowls or competing for the World Cup any time soon?
That’s right, agility training isn’t just for high-end sports stars; it’s for you too. Here are the 5 reasons why you need to add agility training to your workout routine.
Agility training burns more calories than running in a straight line.
We all know the importance of burning calories for weight loss, so why not make your workouts more efficient by moving in different directions? When you rapidly move in multiple directions (multiplanar movement) your body is forced to recruit more muscle fibers in order to maintain balance and speed. By recruiting more muscle fibers and requiring your muscles to fire more quickly, you are burning more calories, in comparison to only moving in a straight line.
Agility training improves coordination, balance and footwork.
Have you ever been running through the house to answer the phone and accidentally tripped over the kids’ toys? Agility training is a form of exercise specifically designed to improve your coordination, balance and footwork. After a few weeks of training you will feel more comfortable and confident on your feet; not to mention you’ll be able to successfully navigate the house with the coordination and footwork necessary to avoid all of those darn Legos!
It improves memory and cognition.
A 2013 study conducted by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory randomly divided a class of military technical training students into two groups. The first group underwent the traditional training regimen consisting of calisthenics and running; the second group performed the same callisthenic training, but substituted agility training for the standard running. After 6 weeks of training, the agility group showed significant improvements in VO2 max, reaction time, memory, visual vigilance, and overall cognitive performance.
It provides quick and measureable results.
Everybody likes to see their hard work pay off. Agility training allows for quick physiological and psychological adaptations within the body. After only a few weeks of regular training, you will begin to notice activities of daily life become easier because your movement is more fluid and second nature. You will soon be able to do the Compass Cone Drill without knocking over a single cone!
Agility training is fun and different.
When is the last time you devoted an entire workout to foot speed, balance, coordination, reaction time, and deftness? Probably not since high school track practice, if ever. Agility training is a great way to change up your routine while reaping the benefits (both physical and mental) of a new modality. It is a fun and challenging addition that you will really enjoy! (Speaking of fun, feel like your routine is lacking some? Check out this post on how to prevent fitness burnout!)
Agility training exercises to try:
A few agility exercises you can start doing today include ladder drills such as the in-out drill, the icky shuffle and the lateral step drill; and cone drills such as the pro agility test, the L drill, and the cone agility box drill. Try them today!
Andrew attended High Point University in North Carolina where he received a bachelor’s degree in exercise science with a concentration in health and wellness and a minor in psychology. He played varsity hockey throughout high school and college. He also raced bicycles competitively for Team Very Bradley. Have questions regarding agility training or want to set up a time to meet with Andrew? Send him an email at [email protected]!