I know – you probably saw the word “ladder” and thought, “Oh God, what’s Michael leaping on now?”
Well, don’t worry too much. This ladder is on the ground.
3 Reasons You Should Be Using an Agility Ladder
If you’ve never seen or heard of an agility ladder, it’s basically similar to the concept of stepping through tires, only a ladder is flatter. A “ladder” of squares or octagons is connected and splayed on the ground to provide a striking point for your feet to land during a variety of exercises. Using a ladder for drills is common among athletes for several important reasons, and those reasons can greatly benefit your training and overall fitness as well.
1. Improves Coordination
Stepping, jumping, skipping, or even moving on your hands between ladder squares requires a great deal of coordination not only between your hands and feet but also between your spatial awareness and your body. Because each square is only so big and you need to land within that square quickly, your body has to focus on accuracy alongside power and be able to do that quickly. This will improve movement patterns across all types of sports and workouts, and even keep your coordination on 10 in normal activities of life.
2. Improves Reaction Speed
When you’re moving quickly down the ladder and through its squares, your body and brain are required to pick up the speed while still landing accurately. Your feet and hands are required to react to the next square fairly quickly, lest you miss it or stumble. This helps your body react quickly and more instinctively to movements and obstacles that are either coming at you or that you need to evade.
3. Works Every Plane of Motion
Some exercises only work in one plane of motion at a time. For instance, in walking lunges, you’re moving forward (one plane). In, say, box jumps, you’re also only moving forward and backward. When using agility ladders, you can hop forward, then shift sideways, then step laterally, all in one flow, if you want. This trains your body to move competently through each plane.
The Epic Agility Ladder Drill
Now that you’re as pumped as I am about integrating the agility ladder into your training, let’s put together some epic drills to take your agility progress to the next level. Follow along with the videos below.
1. Shoulder Tap Walks
If you’ve ever done shoulder taps, this drill essentially takes them up a level by adding a lateral movement. This also gets your legs and feet involved, strengthening their stabilizer muscles and improving hand-to-foot coordination.
Begin in a pushup position, one hand in each square. Tap your shoulders, then land the opposite hand inside the next square so you can shift down the ladder line. Move your outer foot while you shift so you’re entire body remains in a straight line.
2. In & Outs
You’ve probably seen in & outs done before by athletes in all types of sports, as it’s extremely effective at improving footwork, speed, and accuracy. Start slow to get your feet and legs used to the motion, then work on adding speed.
Begin by standing with both feet outside of your ladder, then, step one foot in, followed by the other, into the same square. Remove one foot, then the other at a diagonal so you end up in front of the next square. Repeat the motion as you move down the ladder line.
3. Pushup Walks
Pushup walks engage your entire body, combining the isometric work of planks with the full body burn of a pushup.
Begin in a pushup position at one end of your ladder, one hand in each square. Lower into a pushup, rise, then shift into the next two squares, keeping your back straight and core engaged. Repeat as you move down the line.
4. Lateral Skater Jumps
Lateral jumps become more challenging when you have a smaller landing circumference. Practice leaping between the two middle squares.
Have you ever used an agility ladder? How did you like it? Let me know and find more free workouts here.