Posted Date: August 5, 2008
Get Specific! Check out this exercise plan designed to improve agility performance by Human Agility Trainer Lori Hansen
If you want to become better at a particular sport, you have to practice the actual skills used in the event. This is called the "principle of specificity."
Here is a simple 30-minute workout incorporating two front cross drills, two running mechanics exercises and two sprint activities, specific to dog agility. In can be done while on a walk at a park, school track or any safe, even surface. The only equipment you'll need is a watch with a second hand and, once you've mastered the drills, bring your dog!
For the workout, you will alternate an intense 30-second speed agility or quickness drill with a two-minute walking rest interval. Thirty seconds represents an average course time. The complete circuit takes about 15 minutes. Start with one time through, gradually progressing to twice through for a longer workout. Go at a safe pace, carefully increasing your speed so that moving faster becomes normal for you.
Walk for 3-5 minutes to warm-up or perform the Dynamic warm-up found on the Human Agility Training Vol. I DVD; then perform the first 30-second drill, followed by a two-minute walking (or jog if you're already buff) recovery interval in between each drill.
Drill #1 "Happy Feet"
Run forward, taking short, baby steps, as fast as you can, staying up on the balls of your feet, but keeping them close to the ground. Arms can move naturally or hang loose at your sides. Be light and quick. This can help motivate a slower dog through the weave poles.
Drill #2 "Front Cross Figure 8s"
Use two trees, rocks, or dogs-on-down-stays about 30 feet apart. Start in between them and run toward the tree on your right in a clockwise circle making a figure 8 pattern. Imagine your dog on the outside of the circle on your left. As you begin to exit the turn perform a three-step (left-right-left) front cross, turning into your imaginary dog and rotating counter clockwise. Go through the intersection and continue on around the other tree (your imaginary dog is now on your right). Circle the other tree in a counter clockwise direction. As you round the turn perform another front cross this time right-left-right (rotating clockwise). To protect your knees, stay up on the balls of your feet. Repeat the pattern for 30 seconds.
Drill #3 "Accelerators"
Sprint for 10 seconds at a moderate pace, sprint the next 10 seconds a little faster and the last 10 seconds all out!
Two minute walk
Drill #4 "Stationary Arm Swings"
Stand in one place with your arms bent 90 degrees. Move just your arms rapidly back and forth like you are running for your life. Maintain the 90-degree elbow bend; keep your eyes up and your chest up and belly button to spine. Your arms are the motors that drive your legs so feel how this makes your feet want to move.
Drill #5 "Zigzag Front Crosses"
I have the luxury of a park that has a 10-foot wide smooth dirt path, but any even surface will do. I start on the right-hand side of the path and jog at a 45-degree angle toward the left side. When I get to the left side I do a three-step (left-right-left, rotating counter clockwise) front cross angling back across the path toward the other side. When I reach the right-hand side I do another three-step (right-left-right, rotating clockwise) front cross and head back diagonally across the path in a lightning bolt type pattern, moving down the path. Remember to be up on the balls of your feet so as not to twist your knees and carefully increase your speed.
Two minute walk
Drill #6 "Hair on Fire"
Sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds, focus on form and speed will follow.
Finish with enough walking and easy stretching to comfortably cool down.
Be sure to check with your physician before performing this or any other exercise program.
Lori Hansen is a certified and degreed personal trainer with over 25 years experience as a fitness professional. She also competes in agility at the national level. The Human Agility Training DVD Vol. I is available through Clean Run, J & J Dog Supplies and Max 200.