What is Agility
Agility refers to your ability to change positions quickly, using quick, controlled movements. If you’re an athlete, this skill will clearly give you an advantage over your competitors, and it’s commonly used in the military to improve combat performance and general fitness.
However even non-athletes can benefit from agility training. For starters, agility training is fun. Say goodbye to tedious treadmill workouts that have you counting down the minutes until you’re done. Agility workouts are fast-paced and constantly changing. They keep actively engaged in both mind and body, providing an exciting workout you’ll actually look forward to. It improves the rate at which your muscles contract, which otherwise tends to decline as you age. It also improves your balance, including dynamic balance (or balance while you’re in motion), and enhances your natural reflexes so you’ll react with a renewed swiftness. If you’ve ever felt like a bit of a klutz, agility training can also be invaluable as it helps with coordination. As you get older, agility training helps you maintain your independence.
What Are the Benefits of Agility Ladder Training?
There are many different forms of agility training, but one of my favorites is the agility ladder. It provides a platform for virtually unlimited movements to work your entire body.
An agility ladder is an inexpensive piece of exercise equipment that you can roll out on any flat surface. You can also “draw” an agility ladder on your floor using tape. You then practice moving through the rungs in various ways. If you’re just starting out, you may simply walk through the ladder, but as you become more advanced you can progress through sideways shuffles, skipping rungs and much more.
Many injuries happen when the body falls out of alignment in motion—think of pulling the muscles in your lower back if you lift from an improper position, or tearing the ligaments in a knee if you misstep. Agility training increases balance, control and flexibility, allowing the body to maintain proper posture and alignment during movement. Agility training helps the body learn correct body placement, meaning sensitive areas like the shoulders, lower back and knees are protected while moving quickly.
The Mind-Body Connection
Agility training helps build pathways in the brain for fast responses to various stimuli. At first, the responsive movements will seem forced, but as you practice, they will become more natural.
Improved Balance and Coordination
Ever watched a gymnast on a balance beam? Her movements are dynamic, fluid and perfectly balanced. Agility training encourages the body to develop balance in the midst of dynamic movement, much like the gymnast on the beam. Practicing quick stops and starts, hand-eye coordination and speed help the body work as a whole. When the body is working in sync, movements become more fluid, for smooth, coordinated transitions.
Improved Recovery Time
Sometimes an intense workout can leave you with sore muscles and decreased energy levels the next day. But the bursts of movement in agility training, when practiced over a sustained period of time, help build strength in the musculoskeletal system, which in turn can shorten recovery time.
Increased Results in Minimal Time
Often agility training drills are also HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) exercises, which can produce noticeable results in a minimal amount of time. Non-linear movements, such as side-stepping footwork using an Agility Ladder, or running a slalom course around Agility Cones, engage a greater number of muscles than if you were to simply run in a straight line. Engaging more muscles translates into greater results from your workout.