When you're a complete newbie to agility drills, try this beginner-friendly agility workout to master the movements and get your heart rate up.
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Unless you're a professional athlete or someone who takes their recreational kickball league very seriously, there's a good chance agility workouts aren't a staple in your fitness regimen.

But agility workouts aren't just for semi-pro sports players, and it's high time runners, weight lifters, and other casual exercisers add them to their schedules. The reason: "Everyone benefits from speed and agility," says Liz Fernandez, a certified personal trainer who specializes in strength and agility training at Dimensional Training in New York. More specifically, tackling agility workouts can help reduce your risk of injury — both in the gym and in everyday life — and improve your balance, coordination, and more. 

So, how do you get started? Keep reading for guidance on how to begin mixing agility workouts and exercises into your routine. Once you're ready to give the training style the old college try, follow along with Fernandez's agility workout for beginners that will test your power and speed.

Your Guide to Agility Training

How to Add Agility Workouts to Your Fitness Routine

In case you need a reminder: Agility is the ability to control your body's position while quickly changing direction in response to a stimulus, and in order to do so effectively and safely, you'll need to utilize your balance, coordination, power, and speed, according to the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development (JRRD). To safely and effectively perform workouts that help you improve your own agility, you'll need to keep a few tips in mind. 

Establish Your Balance

Before you step foot into an agility ladder, you first need to have your balance on lock, says Fernandez. Practice shifting your weight from one leg to the other, then walking forward and side to side while doing so, she suggests. When you feel comfortable balancing on one leg without toppling over, you can move on to an actual agility workout, she says.

Start Off Slow

Though you might want to tackle the fast footwork right from the get-go, it's essential to start off slow if you're new to the training style, says Fernandez. "I think [beginners] are just trying to just keep up with the person in front of them or what a video may show them to do, so their mind goes out the window and they're not processing what they're actually supposed to be doing," she explains. "...But there's a lot of coordination involved, so if you go too fast, you could hurt yourself." During your first few agility workouts, simply walk through the moves, then once you feel comfortable, try slowly picking up your pace, suggests Fernandez.

Say Your Movements Aloud

To reduce the odds of tripping over your own feet, Fernandez suggests saying exactly what you're doing aloud (think: shouting, "right, left," "right" as you move your feet). "You're putting the words in your head to the motion that you're doing with your body," she explains. And establishing this mind-body connection can help you stay upright and injury-free. 

Use Them as Warm-Ups

Generally speaking, you'll want to incorporate some agility training into your schedule twice a week (if you're exercising five days a week) to score its benefits, says Fernandez. But it doesn't have to be your entire workout: "It's a great way to warm yourself up before whatever workout you're doing, whether it's a HIIT class…or long-distance running," she says. Just spending 15 to 20 minutes on an agility workout can help improve your coordination, speed, and balance, says Fernandez.

5-Move Agility Workout for Beginners

Ready to give agility training a shot? Try this five-exercise, beginner-friendly agility workout created and demonstrated by Fernandez. These cardio-heavy moves will help improve your speed, power, balance, and coordination, she says. "If you find any of these movements [to be too] difficult, start off slow and talk to yourself out loud until your body is able to perform what your mind is telling it," she adds. (Related: Agility Cone Drills That'll Skyrocket Your Speed)

How it works: Do all four exercises in Circuit 1 for the suggested time, then take a 30-second rest. Repeat the circuit twice more, taking 30-second rest after each round. Then, do the suggested reps for both exercises in Circuit 2, take a 30-second rest, then repeat the circuit once more. 

What you'll need: an agility ladder and a set of penalty boxes (if you don't have access, try using cones, hurdles, rope, or other household objects)

Circuit 1

High Knees

A. Stand facing forward at one end of the agility ladder with feet hip-width apart and arms at sides.

B. Quickly drive left knee up to waist, simultaneously bringing right arm up to chest, and move forward, making sure to keep hips square. Continue, alternating legs and running forward through the ladder.

Continue for 45 seconds.

Step-Ins

A. Stand facing forward on the left side of the agility ladder with feet hip-width apart and arms resting at sides.

B. Quickly tap left foot inside the ladder, then press off the floor to bring it back to the outside of the ladder, all while moving forward and swinging arms. Make sure not to touch your foot on the ladder itself.

C. Continue tapping left foot inside the ladder and moving forward through the ladder.

Continue for 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

In and Outs

A. Stand facing forward at the base of the agility ladder with feet hip-width apart and arms at sides.

B. Keeping hips low and arms moving sharply, quickly step right foot into the ladder, immediately followed by left foot. Step right foot out to the right side of the ladder, then immediately step left foot out to the left side of the ladder.

C. Continue bringing feet into and out to the sides of the ladder one at a time while moving forward.

Continue for 45 seconds.

Circuit 2

Penalty Box Heisman

A. Stand on the left side of a row of penalty boxes with feet hip-width apart and arms at sides. Drive right knee up to waist and left arm up to chest.

B. Keeping hips squared forward, hop laterally over the first penalty box, then quickly drive left knee up to waist and right arm up to chest and move laterally over the next penalty box. Continue, alternating legs and running laterally through the penalty boxes.

C. At the end of the row of penalty boxes, pause, then repeat in the opposite direction.

Do 15 reps each direction.

Penalty Box Speed Skater

A. Stand on the left side of a row of penalty boxes with feet hip-width apart and arms at sides. Shift weight into left leg and lift right leg off the floor, knees slightly bent.

B. Keeping chest upright, push off the floor through left foot and swing arms to the right to hop laterally to the right side of the penalty boxes, landing on right foot. Stabilize through right leg, sweep left leg behind body, and pause, holding right leg in the air. Repeat, alternating sides.

Do 15 reps each direction.