The right way to use an agility ladder

Fill in the gaps in your workout routine with this low-tech tool.

You strength train, do cardio, and stretch. But for most of us, the combo of speed and coordination is an afterthought. It shouldn’t be. Being able to move fast, stop, and change direction is crucial for sport performance and injury prevention. With the right tool and moves, agility training can easily take the place of one of your regular cardio sessions, too.

Just like running or other forms of cardio, ladder drills boost aerobic capacity, strengthen the entire body, and burn calories. “Plus, they improve your speed, boost your coordination, and teach you how to control your center of mass,” says Ronald Jean, a Tier X coach at Equinox Beverly Hills.

Here, four easy steps to agility ladder success:

1. Lay it down.In a gym, set up a ladder in an empty studio or a corner of the weight room. Or, simply place two long (at least 15 feet) strips of painter’s tape parallel on the floor; then, create ‘rungs’ with smaller strips of tape spaced 12 to 18 inches part.

2.Start simple. Begin by doing a few rounds of jogging across the ladder, then try shuffling from side-to-side.

3. Challenge yourself. When you’re ready to take it up a notch, try Jean’s 10-move ladder workout. Perform the routine as a circuit, doing each move for 30 to 60 seconds in order without resting in between. Then repeat the entire circuit once more. If a move is too challenging, Jean also provides an easier variation for each.