When it comes to running, agility exercises become crucial to obtain proper elastic force.
Today, we bring you a series of exercises that will help you become more agile by helping your body respond efficiently and quickly to all sorts of changes.
These exercises will be beneficial not only when running, but also if you practice other sports. If you want to know what they are, don’t miss out on this article.
Why are elasticity and agility exercises important when you run?
In previous articles, we have talked about exercises to strengthen a runner’s legs. Although it’s important to develop the muscles to be strong, it is equally necessary to be agile.
The reason is that you need to have a quick response capacity to external stimuli and know how to react when a sudden change of terrain appears before you.
Same goes when you need to do a sprint or to move with extra agility.
Besides, both your muscles and body structures are elastic. Therefore, it’s important to know how to take advantage of this elastic force so you can spend less energy on your movements.
Do you know how the elastic force of your muscles works?
Elastic force starts with muscle elongation, the moment when it retains the energy before releasing it to make a move. It is at this point that stability and proprioception become very important.
The idea is that you can get the most out of this energy without having to use more force than necessary; since otherwise, it would mean a greater energy expenditure, and tiredness would appear earlier than you would like.
With these exercises you will practice plyometrics and jumps.
Plyometrics will allow you to apply maximum strength and power to your muscles in the least amount of time possible.
Focusing on increasing muscle strength and explosiveness so that the stretching-shortening cycle that your muscles experience can occur as soon as possible.
On the other hand, jumping exercises will help you activate your central nervous system while stimulating the fast-contracting muscle fibers so that you can generate force as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Also, elasticity decreases the possibility of injury and allows the muscle to produce more force.
A person can easily lose his response capacity due to bad habits such as: leading a sedentary lifestyle, spending much of the day sitting for work purposes, not sitting down properly (bad position), and not developing a correct running technique.
6 Best agility exercises to improve elasticity while running
My team and I propose six simple exercises that are very practical to improve your running skills.
You can do them once or twice a week since it will take you about 10 minutes to put them into practice. You’ll be targeting agility, elastic strength, and ankle strengthening.
1. Side to side hops
With side to side hops, you will develop elasticity and response speed in the lower train, achieving a dynamic balance and stability.
With this exercise you will work the muscles around the hips, knees and ankles.
To perform this exercise, you have to put a mark on the floor you can do with a rope, a towel, or even a mark with chalk.
Standing at the side of the mark, you have to stand with your legs at hip-width with a slight bending of your knees. Then, you have to jump from one side of the mark to the other as fast as you can, using your feet’s elastic force.
In this case, it is not about jumping high but about moving quickly from one side to another. You have to do one or two sets of 20 repetitions each.
2. Side to side hops on one leg
This exercise is very similar to the previous one, using only one leg in the jumps.
By performing this variation, you’ll be developing response speed and elasticity in the lower train and great stability and dynamic balance.
You are going to feel a great force in quadriceps, calves and hips.
Use the same mark you had made in the previous exercise and stand with your foot closer to the line or mark elevated and parallel to it. From that position, you have to maintain a slight flexion in the support leg.
You have to jump from one side of the mark to the other as fast as possible with only one leg, so you must keep your hips stable in the same line as your torso. You must do about 20 repetitions with each leg.
3. Squat jumps
With squat jumps you will work the explosive force of the lower body, both legs and hips.
The starting position is with your legs hip-width apart with slight knee flexion. In this exercise, you can accompany the movement with your arms, or put your hands behind your head, to center all your attention on the lower body.
To execute it, you have to jump from one side to the other of the mark you have placed on the ground. In this case, you should focus on making lateral movements and not so much on speed.
You must land with a leg bend, squatting, keeping your abdomen strong and your body upright.
4. Lateral squat jumps
This is a variation of the previous exercise in which you will work on the explosive force of the lower body and foot strengthening and ankle structures by relying on unipedal support.
The initial position is the same as the previous one but in this case, raising the foot nearest to the line.
Likewise, you can accompany the movement with your arms, or if you prefer, you can put your hands behind your head, so you focus on your lower body only.
To put it into practice, you have to jump from one side to the other of the mark, looking for a great lateral movement and height and not so much the movement’s speed.
From this initial position, while maintaining a slight flexion, you have to propel yourself with one leg focusing on the leg and buttocks to move to the other side and land with the opposite leg maintaining the balance position for about 5 seconds.
Unlike the previous exercise, you have to land with a leg flexion, keeping your abdomen strong and your body upright.
You can repeat about 10 times with each leg.
5. Fence jump from side to side
The goal of this exercise is to improve the agility and rapid response capacity of your lower body.
On this occasion, you will need 2 or 3 small fences (about 5-10 cm), or else, you will need to mark well 2 or 3 lines on the ground.
The goal here is to develop speed and agility on lateral movements.
To do this, you have to stand at one end of the lines or fences located in parallel and jump from one side to another of the mark.
6. Plyometric push-up
The goal of this exercise is to work on the explosive strength and elasticity of the upper body.
To do this, get on your usual push-up position with the hands wider than the shoulders and the chest line over the line that joins the two hands. Make sure to place a couple of bumper plates on the sides to maximize effectiveness (see video below).
You have to keep the abdomen strong, holding well the lower back.
To execute this exercise, you have to perform a push-up, and from below, push the floor strongly, trying to get off the floor while extending your arms and body and land on the bumper plates.
How many repetitions do I have to do for each exercise?
As with everything else, you always want to start slowly. You can perform each exercise between 30 seconds and 1 minute, leaving a recovery time of at least 30 seconds between each one.
You can start with one round and as you get more comfortable, you can go up to 2 or 3.
Improve your elasticity and agility with these exercises!
As you have seen, if you include these exercises in one of your weekly sessions, it can be beneficial to develop your agility by improving your response capacity when running. Please don’t wait any longer to start practicing them!
Agility exercises gradually improve maneuvering speed and reaction, emphasizing various parts of the muscles through fast and dynamic routines.
In this sense, agility exercises are sustained based on coordination, which is nothing more than the capacity of the immediate muscular response to the central nervous system’s designs.
To be more precise, the opposite of clumsiness.
Agility exercises: The complete list
Long jumping indirectly enhances agility by strengthening the muscles involved in the take-off and landing and bringing them into coordination to preserve balance while in motion.
By forcing all four limbs to move in a coordinated manner, this type of exercise increases basic agility, especially when done at maximum speed.
This is a type of circuit exercise in which one base point (south) and three points are located, pointing to the other three cardinal points.
It consists of running towards each cardinal point, touching it with your hand, and then backing up to the south, running to the next one, and so on.
This exercise promotes body coordination with the surroundings even if you’re not directly aware of it.
As in the Olympics, it involves running at maximum speed while jumping or dodging various obstacles.
This represents an intense, coordinated exercise, along with resistance and speed that directly affects an athlete’s agility.
A common practice for boxers, through which they exercise not only their aerobic resistance but also their agility.
Since they can jump the rope in combinations of one foot, the other, or both together, at high speeds.
B-ball is known as one of the most agile sports today since it involves running, passing the ball, and hindering the opponents, all at the same time. Practicing basketball often is a good way to develop agility.
A good way to improve your legs’ strength while working on your agility is to perform balance exercises.
These are especially recommended to seniors or people with vertigo.
Use the stairs!
Going up and down a staircase at full speed, stepping on each step with a corresponding foot, and without jumping over any of them will allow you to improve your feet’ agility and coordination while toning your muscles.
Another relatively simple agility exercise consists of placing cones or other objects in a straight line and running zigzagging between them without knocking down any of them.
This popular game from my childhood can help make balance exercises more complex.
It consists of a series of pictures painted on the floor that force you to jump from one foot to the other until the end, where you’ll then change foot and return to the beginning.
Although it may not seem like it, dancing is an enjoyable and fun way of exercising agility and can be perfectly incorporated into social contexts. You teach your body to follow the rhythm imposed by music.
And besides, who doesn’t love dancing!
A sport discipline that combines ballet, dance, gymnastics, and different implements such as a ball, mallets, ribbons, or hoops, requiring quick, coordinated, and aesthetic use.
It is a challenge to the agility of the sportswomen.
This is the name given to a training program composed of various functional exercise routines of wide variety and intensity, executed in a stipulated and timed time.
CrossFit became a trend back in 1995, and it’s become trendy in the world of physical training.
Inherited from soccer, this exercise consists of stopping the balls that a teammate or coach kicks directly towards the goal, preventing them from entering the net, one after the other, with a narrow margin of recovery time.
Several points or cones are placed on the ground, one next to the other, forming a straight line that reaches several meters in length.
Starting from the first point or cone, you should reach the first one, touch it, and return to the initial one; touch it and continue with the second one, and so on.
Agility ground ladder
Using a sports ladder or making one from old tires, you run through the steps (or holes in the tires), alternating one foot on each one until the end and then back to the start.
Using rings or marking the area with paint, a route is traced in circular segments separated by at least one meter.
This exercise will then consist of advancing by jumping from one ring to the next with only one foot and maximum speed.
Pull up bar exercise
Climbing on the bars, moving from one to the other, holding on with the legs, and inverting the figure… all are valid techniques of agility exercise with an ordinary bar system.
Juggling promotes coordination and sharpens reaction time, thus enhancing our eye-hand agility.