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Why You Should Definitely Include Agility Exercises in Your Training Program?

Why You Should Definitely Include Agility Exercises in Your Training Program?

Why You Should Definitely Include Agility Exercises in Your Training Program ?

Ever wondered what sets apart a remarkable athlete from one considered a legend? Agility! What exactly is it? Agility is our ability to move and change the direction of our body quickly and efficiently while maintaining balance and control. Agility is one of the ten components of physical fitness, alongside strength, cardiovascular endurance, speed, explosive power, muscular endurance, flexibility, balance, coordination, and accuracy in movement.

Most trainees tend to focus primarily on the two well-known components: cardiovascular endurance and strength. It's a pity because, over the years, this leads to a consistent decline in the physical abilities of even the most experienced athletes. Therefore, it's important to ensure that all fitness components are incorporated into your training. This time, as mentioned, we'll focus on the component of agility.

And if you're now wondering what exactly the difference is between speed and agility, here's the answer: "Speed" and "agility" are two important fitness components that go hand in hand, but while speed is performed in a linear (straight-line) movement, agility involves multi-directional skill. In any case, before incorporating exercises to improve agility and to maximise results, it's advisable to consult a certified fitness trainer.

Generally, it's recommended to dedicate 5-15 minutes in each workout program to agility exercises, or alternatively, to perform agility workouts separately, 1-2 times a week. As with other fitness components, it's important to gradually increase intensity according to your ability. Here are some examples of exercises that will help you achieve your goal:

1. Perform Leg Strengthening Exercises To improve agility, you'll need to include leg strengthening exercises in your workouts. This also enhances the component of explosive power, which helps in exerting greater force against the ground and moving the body quickly. Here are examples of exercises to improve leg agility:

Line Sprints Test

  • Concept: Running back and forth between two lines that are 10 metres apart.
  • Goal: Sprint from a high start position as fast as possible, running back and forth twice in a row (total: 40 metres).
  • Frequency: 2-3 times a week, 3-4 sets, with 3-5 minutes of rest between sets.

Jump Rope

  • Concept: Research shows that jumping rope improves several parameters necessary for agility, such as leg muscle strength, coordination (hand-eye-foot coordination during the jump), and balance (each skip forces us to stabilise our body anew).
  • Execution: Start with 1-2 minutes of jumping rope per day and gradually increase to about 10 minutes per day. Over time, you can also gradually increase the speed of the skips and vary the style, such as skipping backwards.

2. Work with an Agility Ladder An agility ladder is a common tool in the fitness world for developing coordination and agility. It is widely used by football and basketball players, combat sport athletes, and in CrossFit training. There are many variations of agility ladder exercises. For example: stand outside the first rung, jump inside it, then jump out, and then jump to the second rung — and so on. It's recommended to perform this exercise 4-5 times within a fitness training session. You can purchase an agility ladder at sporting goods stores and specialised online shops.

3. Work on Improving Reaction Time Agility isn't just about how fast you move; it also refers to your ability to accelerate, decelerate, change direction, and how quickly you can identify a stimulus and respond to it. Therefore, it's beneficial to consistently perform exercises that improve reaction time. Recommended exercises for improving reaction time include:

Throwing and Catching a Ball in the Air

  • This can be done while sitting, standing, or even lying down. You can also add a clap between the throw and the catch, gradually increasing the number of claps each time.

Bouncing a Ball Against a Wall

  • This is a great way to train your brain to quickly respond to changing situations. You can also perform this exercise with a tennis racket or a ping-pong paddle.

4. Increase Exercises for Improving Balance, Stability, and Control Balance exercises will help you maintain control during quick changes of direction. Additionally, they will help you move more efficiently in your daily life and reduce the risk of falls. Here are some recommended exercises for improving balance:

Bulgarian Split Squat

  • Stand upright near a step or low bench. Place one foot forward and the other foot behind you on the step or bench (in a split stance). Slowly lower yourself down until your back knee almost touches the floor.

Step-Up Exercise

  • Stand upright and stable in front of a step or sturdy platform. Step up with one foot, transferring your weight onto it, and then bring the other foot up. Step back down with the first foot and then the second. For an added challenge, you can use ankle or hand weights or perform the exercise on a BOSU ball or Pilates balance disc.

How Much

  • Choose one or both of these exercises and perform 3-4 sets of 10 repetitions for each leg. Aim to do 2-3 workouts like this per week.

5. Include Exercises to Improve Explosive Power Explosive power allows you to generate maximum force in minimal time, enabling actions like jumping and changing direction. Working on explosive power strengthens both your muscular and nervous systems. A great way to enhance explosive power is through plyometric exercises. These exercises involve jumps and hops, focusing on the effort exerted during takeoff from the ground. This is a challenging workout best suited for experienced trainees, requiring precise execution and appropriate volume to avoid injury. Therefore, consult with a fitness trainer and work on your technique with personalised adjustments before starting. Here are some simple and effective plyometric exercises:

Jumps

  • Arrange training cones or markers at equal distances suitable for your jump range. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart in a half squat and jump as high and far as possible. Try to land softly and minimise ground contact time.

Ricochets

  • Create a square or mark four corners in a one-metre area. Stand at one corner and begin jumping with both feet together randomly to any corner at maximum speed. Start with 5 to 10 jumps and gradually increase the number. Focus on the speed of the jumps, not the height.

Lateral Jumps

  • Stand beside a bench or any obstacle about 30 cm high in a sideways stance. Jump over the obstacle and immediately jump back to the starting position. Each jump back and forth counts as one repetition. Ensure each jump is performed at maximum height.

Depth Jumps

  • This advanced exercise should only be done after several weeks of simpler plyometric training. Stand on a chair, bench, or box 30-40 cm high. Step off (not jump) and, upon contact with the ground, immediately jump as high as possible. Start with 5 repetitions and gradually increase.

Running Up Stairs

  • Try to run upstairs quickly, moving swiftly from step to step. Increase difficulty over time by taking 2-3 steps per stride or jumping with both feet on the stairs.

Plyometric Woodchopper

  • Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a weight with both hands. Lift your right leg back and the weight over your left shoulder. Quickly jump from your right leg to your left, swinging the weight diagonally across your chest from side to side. Perform 8-10 repetitions.

Before incorporating exercises to improve agility it is important to meet with your medical doctor for a complete physical exam. Ask your doctor if there are any particular medical problems you have that may affect your fitness program. If you do, work with your doctor to develop a safe exercise program.

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