Agility Circuit Training

Tamsen Butler
Jumping rope is a simple agility exercise

Agility circuit training is an effective addition to your workout routine, especially if you participate in other sports activities such as tennis or basketball. It can complement your exercise routine and provide you with another cardio activity.

Agility Exercises

Ideally, your agility circuit training will replicate the types of movements required of the sport in which you participate to receive the maximum benefits - but you don't have to be an athlete to benefit from agility training. Agility exercises focus on balance and coordination.

Agility Runs

Agility runs are another simple, yet useful exercise. Delineate an area free of obstructions with small cones. Create a path within the area of sharp curves or circles, marking turns with additional cones.

  1. Begin by running to the first cone, tapping it with your hand quickly when you reach it.
  2. Maintain your speed as you turn to follow the direction of the next cone. Agility training requires that you act quickly.
  3. For added challenge, you can sprint along your path, changing directions and running backwards for one segment.
  4. Create a few different courses, going in the opposite direction so that you are working your entire body. You may find that one side of your body is stronger than the other. If this is the case, work the weaker side with some additional reps until you are moving in a more balanced fashion.

Agility Ladders

Agility ladders offer additional challenge and opportunities for you to improve your coordination and footwork. As the name implies, this training device is a rope ladder with either a single set of rungs or a double set of plastic or PVC rungs. The ladder lies on the ground when in use and you can tape the ground if you don't have a ladder. The jumping activity will increase your heart rate, giving you a good cardio workout. It requires control as you stay balanced when you land, with only a small target area.

  1. To get familiar with its use, try a simple drill such as hopscotch. Hop from one square to the next as if you were playing hopscotch. The challenge lies with staying within each square.
  2. Begin standing at the end of your ladder.
  3. Hop into the first square using your left foot.
  4. Hop into the next square or squares landing with both feet and so on.

Lateral Work

Leaping, shuffling, or high-knees laterally helps increase agility, especially since most everyday movements are forward and not lateral, so the body needs to be trained to perform lateral movements. Quick, lateral movements are essential to agility. Try one of these agility movements requiring lateral movements:

  • Lateral shuffle - Quickly shuffle to the right while staying low as if in a squat. Repeat on the left.
  • Lateral leaps - Alternate leaping to the right and the left. Make this a fast, big movement.
  • Lateral high knees - While performing high knees, move laterally toward the right and then to the left.
  • Quick lateral leaping lunge sequence - Do a lateral lunge on the right, follow it with eight quick feet, and then a lateral lunge on the left.

Quick Change Moves

Taking other exercises and adding an element of a quick change helps turn it into an agility movement.

  • High knees - Do eight counts of high knees, then quickly do a quarter turn to the right. Repeat, until you're back where you started, and then change directions.
  • Push ups - Do a push up, then quickly switch your hand positioning to wider. Repeat until your hands are quite wide, and then switch to bringing the hands closer with each push-up.
  • Roll up to squat - Roll up from a supine position, quickly transitioning into a low squat with your hands held in a "goal post" position. Return to supine by rolling back and return.
  • Ball retrieval - Slam a bouncy ball against the floor or wall and sprint to grab it and return to your starting spot. The bouncier the ball, the better - little, rubber balls are best as they bounce wildly and unpredictably.
  • Jumping rope - Although jump rope is an agility exercise in itself, a quick change or direction or adding some tricks will increase the effort required.
  • Tuck jump with quarter turns - Jump up, slapping your knees with your hands (your knees should go higher than your waist). After you land, jump with a quarter turn.

Agility Circuits

Start with a warm up and end with a cool down to help you avoid injury. Perform each move for 45 seconds, followed by a quick 15 second recovery. Complete the circuit four times - with the warm up and cool down, this should be around a 30 minute workout. If you're a beginning exerciser, listen to your body and lessen the amount of time working out if needed until you build up more stamina.

An Agility Circuit for Speed

  1. Fast feet with quarter turns
  2. Roll up to squat - Add a quick quarter turn in the squat, changing directions of your roll each time.
  3. High knees with quarter turns
  4. Alternating lateral shuffle while holding squat
  5. Agility run

An Agility Circuit for Strength

  1. Tuck jumps with quarter turns
  2. Push ups as described above
  3. Lateral leaps with a pause on each side - Land on the side in a "Heisman" position before leaping to the other side.
  4. Agility ladder sequence - Squat jumps down the ladder with a jump in a square followed by a squat outside the ladder.
  5. Jump rope

An Agility Circuit With Cognitive Conditioning

  1. Ball retrieval
  2. Lateral shuffle while tossing a large ball up over head and catching
  3. Jump rope while reciting the alphabet forward and backward
  4. Agility ladder while a trainer or workout partner tosses cards for you to catch
  5. Lateral high knees with an add-on sequence (one right, one left, two right, two left, three right, three left, etc.)

Benefits of Agility Circuit Training

Too often, sport training concentrates on speed. Speed, of course, is essential in many competitive sports. The agile athlete uses energy more efficiently. Because you have trained your body to respond, you are less likely to get injured from missteps or falls. The process also increases your mental alertness. You play better because you are more alert to the changes going on around you.

Agility Circuit Training