The Powerful Benefits of Agility Ladder Exercise

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // May 9, 2024

Agility ladder exercise is great for so many reasons. Yes, your heart rate increases and you burn lots of calories, but there’s so much more to it than that.

Ladder drills will mix up your workout and keep you interested even when you’re in a fitness rut.

I’m going to walk you through each of the benefits of agility ladder exercise so you can see just how powerful this form of exercise is. Once I convince you to try using an agility ladder, make sure you try my favorite agility ladder drills that burn calories fast!


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    1. Improves Speed, Agility, and Quickness

    Whether you’re an athlete or an exercise newbie, agility ladder drills are the perfect form of cross-training because they help improve your speed, agility, and quickness.

    • Speed: your ability to move with fast feet in one direction as quickly as possible
    • Agility: your coordination—your ability to accelerate, decelerate, and handle a change of direction
    • Quickness: your ability to use fast footwork to react or switch positions quickly

    These three factors not only improve your athletic performance in other sports and activities but can help you boost your fitness level for virtually any type of workout you do. You’ll see the benefits in your strength training, cardio workouts and even your yoga practice.

    2. Enhances Balance and Flexibility

    Agility ladder drills require coordinated and controlled footwork that helps improve balance and lower body flexibility. Balance is a critical component in sports, and also in regular daily life.

    These agility ladder exercises involve all three planes of motion to help you develop and maintain great balance. And improving your balance may help reduce the risk of falls and injuries. It’s a win, win!

    3. Increases Cardiovascular Fitness

    These drills help burn calories and build endurance, leading to improved overall fitness and a healthy body composition.

    Because agility ladder drills require so much precision, foot speed, and focus, they can elevate your heart rate in a short amount of time. Getting your heart rate up through cardiovascular exercise is a great way to keep your heart healthy and young.

    The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of heart-pumping cardio per week; agility ladder exercises can certainly be a part of that!

    You can also check out my top 9 picks for the best cardio workouts for weight loss. No running included!

    4. Agility Ladder Exercise Burns Tons Of Calories

    Speed ladder drills are a great form of cardio that burn mega calories! They are considered a type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This means they do what I always preach- accomplish more in less time!

    By going “all-out” in short bursts of intense effort and then taking a brief pause, you typically blast fat and burn more calories than you would be doing most lower-intensity, steady-state cardio activities.

    There are many different types of workouts that fall into this HIIT category. You can see a few of my favorites in my list of 7 total body exercises that burn fat and build muscle.

    5. Keeps You Mentally Sharp

    Stay young with a workout that will keep you on your toes and thinking fast! These agility ladder drills require you to focus and concentrate, connecting your brain to your body.

    Improving your coordination not only benefits your daily life, but keeps your mind young.

    Many people deal with increased brain fog symptoms as they age, and regular exercise can help.

    Your mind tells your body how and when to move. And with these agility ladder drills, you are thinking on your feet, pun intended! Studies show that Alzheimer’s patients who participate in exercise programs including balance and coordination components retain more muscle strength and control than patients who do not.

    Plus, from the moment you put your foot into the first ladder exercise, your brain will be focused and your training session will fly by.

    6. It’s FUN!

    We all get bored sometimes with our workout. If you feel like you’re in a rut and sick of trudging away on the treadmill one more day, try these ladder drills instead!

    I promise you will feel more athletic and agile the more you work with agility laddersl. Go at your own speed and look for improvement with repetition. You can do ladder exercises outside, in the garage, or in the basement.

    It’s something different, and it’s just plain fun. Your kids may even want to join in!

    And if you watched the video above, you are seeing my in-person boot camp using the ladders outside. Ladders have become a fan favorite of this group. We have around 70 people working out and having fun!

    Choosing the Right Agility Ladder For You

    There are several different styles of agility ladders. I love the roll out ladders. They are more expensive but also more durable and stable. I have have mine for a decade and still using the same one. They also are better for stability because you are less likely to trip on this style.

    The slat style ladders are popular because they are affordable and easy to fold up and carry with you. Often these are used on grass or football fields for youth sports. Here are a few styles to consider if you’re shopping for a slat style agility ladder:

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