Speed and agility training – Best Exercises and Program

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, PT

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The big 3 – Squats, bench presses and deadlifts. It seems like 99% of trainees focus on the basics of fitness training, with just a couple of goals in mind:

  • Optimal muscular development
  • Optimal strength levels

And while compound movements and a good training split will get you to look good and be strong, there are in fact some often neglected properties of the body, which no one pays specific attention to.

Being able to press, pull or squat enormous weights for 1~5 repetitions will certainly feel good.

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However, there is more to training than just looking good and lifting heavy.

We need to acknowledge the fact that the body is a complex machine that literally has a full-on, adaptive biosuit.

If you are not a competitive athlete that needs to focus on developing one single physical property (for example strength, if you are a powerlifter), well if that’s not the case, then we’d advise you to focus on better overall development.

Diversifying your workouts to develop not only strength and size, but also explosiveness, dexterity, speed and agility, is one of the best things you can do if you want to progress and actually have fun during training.

In this specific article, we will tackle the topic of “Speed & agility training)

How to train for speed and agility

speed and agility training

Before we go on with this article, let’s take a look at and define these two physical properties

  • Speed

Speed is defined as the ability of an individual to move in a single direction as fast as possible.

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  • Agility

Agility is the ability of an individual to accelerate and decelerate, as well as change directions swiftly and stabilize the body while doing so.

Knowing this, we can conclude that the traditional weight training workouts are not really optimal when it comes to developing something other than strength, muscle size and explosiveness.

By developing your speed and agility, not only will you enhance your weightlifting workouts, but you will also greatly benefit during everyday situations that require lightning fast reactions and swiftness.

In other words, you will never ever miss your bus again!

It is worth noting that while quick-paced exercises are known to be in the tool box of professional athletes like footballers, they can also be of great use for the regular Gym-Joe.

As mentioned above, speed and agility training also allows us to develop our ability to balance our body, which is something that is often neglected by regular gym trainees.

Furthermore, this type of training uses the Anaerobic energy system, which is the exact energy system we use during weight training.

That is to say that both types of training can and will compliment one another, as they are similar in terms of energy pathway used.

Before we move on it would be worth noting that getting the best out of the exercises we’re about to give you is best done with as little rest as possible between the separate exercises and sets.

The premise here is elevating your heart rate and sustaining it for the whole duration of the workout.

Nevertheless, burn out must not be reached and rests can be taken as needed.

The workout is also good for people who are trying to burn fat, as this type of workout burns a lot of energy.

However, those of you who are losing fat must not completely rely on this, but should rather combine it with an adequate nutrition plan.

Exercise distribution

Make sure to start off with the most demanding exercises that are the hardest, in order to give them your best, execute them correctly and hence, reduce the risk of injury or under-performing later on in the workout.

Sets, reps and rest times

Each exercise of the ones presented below, is done in 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions. Rest times are kept at 30-50 seconds between each exercise and set.

Number of sets can be gradually increased as the workout becomes easier and easier.

The exercises

Box jumps

how to box jump

Execution steps

  • Stand behind the box
  • Squat down just a couple of inches
  • Jump explosively on the box
  • Land in a quarter or semi-squat
  • Jump off of the box and repeat
  • Do these as quickly as possible!


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Side jumps

lateral box jump

Execution steps

  • Step with your right leg in the center of the box
  • Step with your left leg by the side of the box
  • Jump to the right side of the box, placing the left leg in the center and the right by the side of the box
  • Repeat

Again, do these as quickly as possible!

Alternating jump squats

Alternating jump squats agility

This is the exercise where the agility ladder comes into play!

Execution steps

  • Start off with a wide leg stance
  • Squat & jump to a narrow leg stance in the first square of the ladder
  • Repeat the pattern – Wide stance outside of the ladder, narrow stance inside the squares


Lateral shuffle

agility ladder side travel

Execution steps

  • Begin by standing with the ladder on your left side
  • Laterally step with your left foot in the first square
  • Laterally step with your right foot into the first square
  • Laterally step right foot outside of the ladder and next to the second square, followed by the same thing for the left foot
  • Repeat the first 3 steps, until you reach the end of the ladder
  • Repeat the same thing but on the right side

As already mentioned, each exercise is done in at least 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions and if the exercise implies it, that is 12-15 repetitions per side.

The workout is flexible as you can choose to either:

  • Do each exercise alone
  • Take all exercises and do circuits

Our recommendation is to do these exercises outside in fresh air.

If you don’t have access to a plyometric box, a bench can be used as a substitute.

If you don’t have access to an agility ladder, you can always improvise! Just draw one on the ground, or use street tiles and the lines between them.

To wrap it up

When thinking about training, we should consider more than just looks and strength.

The body is capable of much more than just muscle contractions under mechanical tension.

Do include strength days and hypertrophy days, but top that off with days where you also give other physical properties a chance to be developed.

Ultimately, developing all of your physical properties will allow you to feel much more capable in more than one aspect, not just moving a given weight from point A to point B in the gym.

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