Agility Drills Aren’t Just for Warmup

fullsizeoutput_571Remember the drills your high school coach made you do to warmup before practice? High knee runs, butt kickers, etc.

You can actually use these fun (yes, they can be fun!) drills to put together a cardio workout that you can do anywhere. Instead of slogging away on the treadmill or pedaling to nowhere on a stationary bike, why not get outside and hop, skip or jump your way to a decent workout. Your living room might be tight quarters for this workout but you can do it in your driveway or the park or the local track. Just find a flat surface so you don’t turn an ankle and maybe a few landmarks to work back and forth between like fenceposts or trees.

These drills are often used as a warmup before running to help build strength and balance. Drills like high knees and butt kicks if done correctly are an exaggeration of running form so they can help you focus on good form during the rest of your workout. These are all great benefits so why not get them during your whole workout instead of just in the warmup.

Do a combination of different drills for time or distance and keep it up for 20-30 minutes for a complete cardio workout.

High knee run – Start by standing tall and keeping your chin level and looking ahead instead of down at your feet. Bend your elbows and keep your hands loose. No tight fists! Begin running and lifting your knees so your thighs come up parallel to the ground. Your arms should move back and forth close to your sides. Keep your hands from crossing in front of your body. Land softly on the balls of your feet. You won’t move forward very far with each step but that’s ok. Focus on your form.

Butt kick run – Start in the same position as the high knee run. When you begin running, your knees will barley lift up. Lift your heels as high as you can behind you. Actually kick yourself in the butt if you can! You won’t move forward very far with this drill either, just focus on form.

Power skips – Hopefully you remember how to skip from kindergarten. This drill is just like, only exaggerated. As you push off with your foot, explode up and drive your opposite arm upwards. Land lightly on your feet and continue for a short distance. This is where those landmarks will come in handy.

Carioca – Better known as the grapevine drill. You’ll move sideways in this drill. Again, start by standing tall and looking ahead. Your arms should be slightly out to your sides and will twist opposite your feet to help you keep your balance. 

Hop your left foot in front of your right, hop your right foot out to your right, hop your left foot behind your right and so on. Take it slow at first so you don’t faceplant!

Side shuffle – Just like carioca, you’ll move sideways in this drill too, but there’s less chance of tangling up your feet! Start in a slight squat position with your right hip facing the direction you want to go. Hop your right foot out wide to the right and hop your left foot over to meet your right. Move continuously from step to step until you reach your landmark.

Bounding – Similar to Power Skips but leaping with large steps. The goal is to go far instead of high. Exaggerate your running steps without losing your form and remember to use your arms to help power you forward.

Shake things up a bit and use any or all of these drills to create a fun workout that might break up the exercise routine monotony.

Happy Exercising!

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Are You Warming Up Properly?

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Dynamic Warm-UP

What kind of warmup do you do before your workout? You DO warm-up, don’t you?!

Don’t worry, I’m guilty of not bothering to warm-up, too. That being said, as a fitness coach, I try to practice what I preach and a warm-up IS a good idea. However, it doesn’t have to be elaborate or lengthy. I know we’re all time-crunched and don’t want to waste the precious minutes we’re able to carve out of our day for a workout with a warm-up. But, here’s why its a good idea…

It gradually increases blood flow to the muscles and increases muscle temperature which in turn increases the oxygen available to the working muscles. This keeps the more intense exercise to come from being a shock to your system.
There is some evidence to suggest that a warm-up will help prevent injuries. As with many subjects, there is no definitive answer on this and there are people and studies on both sides.
A warm-up can help you mentally prepare for the workout or event to come. Especially if its going to be a tough one.

So what should your warm-up look like?

Forget everything you learned about warm-ups from your middle school phys. ed. teacher or your high school coach (unless they were very progressive and in-the-know :). Jogging for 30 minutes or more, bending over to touch your toes or contorting your body into odd stretches is not the best way to warm-up.

A dynamic warm-up is best. One in which you are moving at a low intensity ideally in the same types of motions as the workout. For example, if you’re going for a run, then the warm-up should be an easy run of just a few minutes. Your total warm-up only needs to be 10-15 minutes long, if that. You can, and should, incorporate other dynamic movements to loosen up your joints and gently stretch your muscles. Static stretching (sitting or standing and holding a stretch without moving) has been shown to not be a very effective warm-up.

The following are a few dynamic warm-up activities you can do. Just 30 seconds or so for each.

Bounding – This is basically exaggerated running. Leap from foot to foot with a long stride for about 10 meters or so.

High skipping – Again, an exaggerated exercise. Skip for about 10 meters, pushing off with force to go as high as you can.

High knees – Run, moving forward with small steps and bringing your knees up high so your thighs are about parallel to the ground.

Butt kicks – Run with small steps and bringing your heels to your butt. Try to maintain normal arm swing during this motion.

Hip swings – Stand with feet hip width apart. Hold onto something for balance if necessary. Swing your right leg forward and backward from your hip 5-10 times and switch legs.

Trunk twists – Stand with feet hip width apart and hands on hips. Twist your upper body from side to side to loosen up your low back.

Arm circles – Holding your arms at shoulder height, move them in wide circles to loosen and warm-up the shoulders.

Jumping jacks – This is a great full-body warm-up activity Everyone can do them and they can modified if necessary and don’t take a lot of space.

Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite warm-up activity I haven’t included.

 

Happy Exercising!