Agility ladder drills (also known as speed ladder drills) are valuable for many different reasons. As a professional basketball player, I use an agility ladder early year-round.
However, the agility ladder isn’t just a valuable tool for athletes. Anyone who is trying to improve their physical fitness can use a speed ladder to get in better shape!
Keep reading below to learn a few of the most important benefits of speed ladder workouts and a few of my favorite agility ladder exercises!
Agility Ladder Benefits – What Does the Agility Ladder Improve?
Though it was initially only used by elite athletes, speed ladder drills have gradually become part of general training programs for individuals looking to get in better shape.
Here are a few key agility ladder benefits:
1.) Using an Agility Ladder Will Make You Quicker, Faster, and More Explosive
If you are considering using an agility ladder, one of the first questions in your head probably is, “does the agility ladder make you faster?”
The answer is yes, doing speed ladder drills can and likely will make you faster! In fact, this benefit has been studied on numerous occasions. According to one well-designed study which was published by the International Journal of Applied Research,
“Based on the results the study it was concluded that the ladder drill and SAQ training were significantly improved the speed and agility among sports clubs badminton players.”
Additionally, according to a study published in the International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health,
“The result of the study shows that 6 weeks of a ladder training program has significantly increased on speed.”
Doing agility ladder drills will help decrease your ground-contact time for each running stride or motion, which will make you quicker, faster, and more explosive!
There is a reason it is called the speed ladder!
2.) Using the Speed Ladder Lowers Your Risk of Injury
Aside from making you quicker, faster, and more explosive, doing speed ladder drills consistently will also make you more resistant to lower-body injuries.
Agility ladder drills are an effective exercise for increasing the strength and stability of your muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments of your lower body simultaneously!
One specific benefit of agility ladder drills for reducing injuries is that they increase the strength and resiliency of the elastic fascia and connective tissue in your feet, ankles, and rest of your lower body.
Using a speed ladder is especially useful for preventing ankle injuries.
3.) Agility Ladder Drills are Excellent for Weight Loss
Speed ladder training is great for weight loss because it increases your heart rate and burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time. You can use speed ladder drills as a type of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), or you can do them at a steadier pace that will still burn a lot of calories.
In my opinion, agility ladder exercises are best for short-explosive intervals.
Additionally, agility ladders are great for weight loss since they are low-impact on your joints and tendons. Although they involve fast movements, the range of motion is small and there is not a lot of impact on each step.
One of the best ways to do speed ladder drills for weight loss is to pair them with jump rope workouts.
4.) The Agility Ladder Drills Improve Your Body Awareness and Movement Skill
Although improving body awareness and movement capability is especially important for athletes, it is also important for a wide range of other populations as well.
For example, older adults are able to improve their dynamic balance through speed ladder training, which will help them maintain a high level of fitness as well as overall coordination even at old age. Based on research by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, community-based resistance and agility training programs were supported to help lower the risk of fall among older women who have low bone mass.
Similarly, young kids can also improve their balance through training on an agility ladder. According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Physical Education,
“The experimental group improved their dynamic balance score from pre- to post-test compared to the control group although no significant improvements were observed in the retention test. Agility ladder drills provide an additional approach to improve the dynamic balance of young children.”
An agility ladder is truly an invaluable tool for a wide range of people!
5.) Speed Ladder Drills Enhance Cognitive Performance
Not only are speed ladder exercises great for your body, but they are great for your mind as well!
According to a study comparing agility ladder drills with a traditional military physical training program that was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,
“We conclude that agility training (AT) is as effective or more effective as physical training (PT) in enhancing physical fitness. Further, it is potentially more effective than PT in enhancing specific measures of physical and cognitive performance, such as physical agility, memory, and vigilance. Consequently, we suggest that AT be incorporated into existing military PT programs as a way to improve war-fighter performance. Further, it seems likely that the benefits of AT observed here occur in various other populations.”
Since agility ladder exercises incorporate components of learning, balance, focus, and coordination at the same time, the agility ladder can to stimulate stronger connections among several brain regions, promoting them to work together more efficiently.
My Favorite Speed Ladder Drills
The agility ladder can be used in literally hundreds of ways.
There are a few exercises that are more well known than others, but you can use the speed ladder completely in your own interpretation if you would like! Some of my favorite agility ladder exercises include:
- Running 1-Step in each box
- Running 2-Steps in each box
- Lateral Slide
- Lateral High-Knees
- Icky Shuffle
- Lateral Crossovers
Here are a couple of video examples:
The Best Agility Ladder to Buy (Cheap Speed Ladder)
Although there are a lot of options for the best agility ladder to buy, I have used my SKLZ Quick Ladder for years and it has not broken or failed me yet! The SKLZ Quick Ladder costs only $29.99, and it is a 15-foot long agility ladder with 11 heavy-duty plastic runs.
Generally speaking, this is a durable and portable speed ladder, and I am confident that you will find this cheap speed ladder as useful as I have!
- Improve acceleration, lateral speed and change of direction
- Improve quickness through accelerated foot strike and lift frequency
- Develop the core skills necessary to enhance balance, rhythm and body control
- 11 heavy duty plastic rungs measuring 17" wide and 15' long
- Includes carry bag for easy portability
Concluding Thoughts – Do Agility Ladders Work?
Lastly, agility ladder workouts are great because they are less boring than other cardio workouts!
Let’s face it, we are all looking for treadmill alternatives or alternatives to simple jogging workouts.
Using a speed ladder is a fun way to exercise, and it is specifically great for those of you with a short attention span.
Whether you just need a change in your cardio routine or you are looking for a new primary cardio exercise, the agility ladder is excellent for people who are easily bored with normal workout programs.
Agility ladder workouts are engaging and challenging in numerous different ways, providing you a variety of new goals to work towards achieving.
As you can see, the agility ladder is an excellent tool that can help you get in better shape.
Whether young or old, using a speed ladder is an excellent decision for your overall health.
Younger athletes can benefit from gaining coordination just as much as older individuals who do not want to lose their coordination, high-level athletes can benefit from increasing their quickness and foot speed, and we all can benefit from a form of cardiovascular fat-burning workout which will not bore us to death!
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