Ever feel like you could be getting more out of your workouts? Like there is something missing? Something that will explode all your other training and make it more purposeful to the client?
Agile strength is your answer, and you’re probably doing some of it already.
Agile strength will unlock all the strength and fitness training making it more usable in everyday life.
What is Agile strength and how it will benefit your clients.
There are two definitions of Agile strength that I love and set the tone for the rest of the article.
Agile strength is “the ability to change directions quickly and powerfully”, or “The ability to decelerate, control and generate muscle force in a multiplanar environment.”
Agile strength exercises are characterized by quick accelerations in speed, direction, velocity, or carrying heavyweights in multiple directions.
This helps your body to move with ease and fluidity in any direction, which improves your coordination and balance while helping to prevent injuries.
Traditional strength training focuses on producing a shortening muscle action to move a load through a single plane of motion; however, many tasks require the ability to move mass through gravity in multiple planes of motion. A traditional strength exercise like a deadlift will have a different muscle action, therefore different stimulus and adaptation to an agile strength exercise with the same movement pattern such as a Kettlebell swing.
A deadlift will heavily stimulate the muscular system with the connective tissue assisting with recoiled potential energy. A kettlebell swing will only have a static contraction of the muscular system with the connective tissue doing most of the work by using all the recoiled potential energy.
This in turn gives your clients better use of the force production they’ve gained over time. A deadlift is great for strength and force production, which will help someone lift heavy in a single plane of motion but not so much for moving that heavy object around or playing around throwing the kids in the air multiple times… that’s where the kettlebell swings Agile strength shines.
By implementing agile strength to your weekly training you are increasing athletism and preventing injury by stimulating both the muscular system and connective tissue in multiple ways.
Great examples of agile strength training and ways to structure it in a workout.
Agile moves are characterized by multi-directional workouts with low to moderate weight, or in technical words, Sub-loaded Omni-directional training.
So think to a well-balanced kettlebell complex, you may have a list of 5-6 kettlebell exercises that easily flow into one another without having to put the tool down. Within that kettlebell complex you could have most of the fundamental human movements as well as all planes of motion in one continual nonstop set.
Another great tool for Agile strength is the Med ball, you can easily have a plethora of exercises to take someone powerfully through multiple planes of motion with different movement patterns.
The same goes for using resistance bands as the tool of choice, a great way to load at speed across multiple planes of motion to build a more resilient body.
So when looking at designing a workout that includes Agile strength think about the tools that can be maneuvered easily in multiple planes with a bit more complexity. Tools such as Dumbbells, Kettlebells, med balls, bands, Vipr, Club/Indian bells, etc.
The intensity of the workout should be low to moderate, approximately 50-75%. Repetition count can be higher (12-15) with sets of 2-5, as the load isn’t heavy and relies on the response of the connective tissues more than the muscles so the metabolic expenditure isn’t as high. Switch between slow and fast tempos depending on the exercise and rest periods of 30-90 sec.
If you want to hide it within your workouts a bit better try superset similar movement patterns, eg. Barbell Hip Thruster, x5 reps to Kettlebell swing, x15 reps x5 sets. Or Chest press, x8 reps to rotation med ball wall throw x8 each side x4 sets. Or Chin up, x6 to Med ball slams, both sagittal and transverse slams, x6 reps x4 sets.
How FTI can help you…
The tools we teach in our courses
The Functional Training Institute is a leading provider of functional fitness certifications. With these certifications, you will be well equipped with skills and knowledge in various tools and programming that will make implementing agile strength training as easy as possible.
FTI’s Master Functional Trainer program includes certifications using Power bags, Kettlebells, and battle ropes to use for agile strength, as well as a few other certifications using other tools to upskill your coaching to the next level!
By Tim Sunderland
(FTI Master educator)
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