The agility ladder, also known as the speed ladder, is one of the best fitness tools that can rev up your heart rate and challenge your speed, coordination and footwork, like nothing else.
Most recreational runners are not familiar with this training method. In fact, these fast paced, quick-footed drills have often been thought of as something only athletes do. Nonetheless, anyone can do them, and benefit from them as well.
And today I’m going to share with you an awesome agility ladder workout that you can do without much trouble.
Therefore, if you are serious about taking your speed and power to the next level, then you should add it to your training program.
Image Credit – Invisiblecompany via Flickr
Speed Ladder Defined
The agility ladder is a handy 10 yards long piece of training equipment that you can either buy from Amazon (or the nearest sport specialty store), or make your own if you are not looking for something fancy and want to start right away.
In fact, there is no reason why you can’t make a ladder yourself.
The whole project will take you no more than 15 minutes and all you need is duct tape—at least 30 feet of it to be precise, some paint stirring sticks—get at least 11 20-inch long sticks, , and a measuring tape.
This video will show you exactly how to put everything together.
The Benefits of Speed Ladder Training
Agility training is performed by all sorts of elite athletes in all sorts of sports that require fast feet and coordination such as sprinting, tennis, football players and so on. Here are some of its benefits:
Speed & coordination. By incorporating ladder drills into your training program, you will be promoting a wide range of different footwork and movement patterns, which can help increase stride length, speed and agility on the running track.
Cardio exercise. When done right and at a fast pace, the agility ladder can provide you with a killer cardio workout. Just keep in mind that proper form is the priority, not how hard you push yourself. If you lose form, then you are just wasting your time.
Strengthens body and mind. Ladder drills will also help you strengthen your joints, tendons, ligaments while improving focus and coordination. In fact, study has shown that agility training can improve cognitive performance, including vigilance and memory.
Image Credit – Teresa Degraw via Flickr
Top 9 Speed Ladder Drills For Runners
Here is an agility ladder workout routine you can learn on the fly and do in the comfort of your own home.
I’m also providing you with lots of tips and video tutorials on proper training form. Get the form right and you will be on your way to achieve your best.
How to Start Agility Ladder Training
If you are a beginner and have never done this type of workouts before, then you may simply walk through the ladder and familiarize yourself with the training patterns before you up the ante.
Then, once you are sure you have developed good form, aim to increase your speed as much as possible without losing form.
Without further ado, here are 9 agility ladder drills that combine multi-directional sprinting with ladder movement to help you improve speed and lower body muscular endurance and power.
If you are serious about improving your speed and agility, then do the routine below at least two times a week. Perform the routine as a circuit, doing each exercise for 30 to 60 seconds in order and with minimum rest between each drill. Then aim to repeat the whole circuit two more times, or more if you want to.
Before you start performing the drills, make sure to begin your workout with a thorough warm-up.
So begin by a 5-minute jog to boost your heart rate and loosen up your muscles and joints, then do plenty of dynamic moves, such as lunges, butt kicks, arms raise and so on to get your body set and ready to go.
1. Ladder Linear Run
Begin this basic drill behind the ladder. Then, simply run down the center of the ladder, with each foot coming in contact with the boxes.
Next, turn around and run back to starting position. Make sure to reduce the amount of time your feet are in contact with the ground.
2. High Knees
Begin by stepping into the first box with both feet, then run forward with high knees, lifting your knees to waist level, through the entire length of the ladder. Make sure to bend your arms at 90 degrees and swing them back and forth to generate momentum.
Last up, turn around and sprint to starting point.
3. Lateral Quick Steps
While standing with the agility ladder on your right, start sprinting laterally through the agility ladder by lifting your right foot ankle high and into first box as quickly as you can, then follow it immediately with your left foot, moving diagonally forward one box at a until you reach the end of the ladder.
Make sure to keep contact with ground with balls of feet and toes pointed up the entire time.
Begin by standing on the right side of the agility ladder, then step sideways with your lead foot into the first box, then cross-step your rear foot behind your lead into the second box.
Continue moving laterally across the ladder facing one direction while focusing on quick hip rotation and fast footwork. Then repeat in the opposite direction.
5. In & Out
Begin with your feet hip width apart at the bottom of the agility ladder.
Next, hop into the first box, landing with both feet in the center. Then, hop forward to the second box, spreading your legs and landing so both feet are outside of the agility ladder, then jump to the third box, brining your feet back to the middle position.
Continue down the entire length of the ladder, then hop backward following the same pattern.
6. Ickey Shuffle
Start on the left side of the agility ladder, then take a lateral step to the right with your right foot into the first box, then immediately follow it with your left foot.
Then, step laterally to the left side of the ladder with your left foot, and move your right foot to the next box.
Next, bring your left foot to meet your right, then step laterally to your right side of speed ladder, and move your left to the next box in front of you.
Continue down the entire length of the ladder, then perform the same drill backwards.
7. Two-footed Forward/Backward Jumps
Stand facing the agility ladder. Next, jump into the second box, Then jump backwards to the first box, then jump again forward to the third box, then back again to the second box.
Keep jumping back and forth until you have gone the length of the entire ladder, then turn back and repeat.
Make sure to stay up on the ball of your feet entire time. And never forget, technique comes first, speed later.
8. Lateral Shuffle
Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width to the right side of the agility ladder, then step sideways with your left foot into the first box, follow it right away with your right foot.
Next, step sideway with your left foot into the second box then bring your right foot into that box.
Make sure to move through the entire length of the ladder touching both feet in each box, while keeping your chest up, back straight and eyes gazing straight ahead of you the entire time.
Repeat the sequence in the other direction to complete one rep.
9. Lateral Single Leg Hops
Begin by standing on your right foot, standing sideways on the right side of the ladder, then hop through the ladder on your right foot.
Once you reach the end of the ladder, turn around, then hop back. Switch sides and repeat.
Featured Image Credit – Beth via Flickr.