Run Out of Your Rut

Speed, agility and quickness training is not just for athletes. Persons of all ages benefit from level-appropriate SAQ exercises integrated into a well-designed fitness program. The variety these drills provide represent a challenge for most people and break the monotony of the strength/cardio/flexibility rut into which many fall. Additionally, when SAQ work is performed after a proper warm up and with optimal form, even so-called non-athletes increase their performance in everyday activities.

The obvious way to include SAQ training into workouts is with sprint intervals. Whether for time or distance, short running bursts activate the anaerobic system and provide a challenge for any anyone. Of course, proper running form is important, as are proper recovery periods between sprints. Determine how long you need to rest between sprints by allowing your heart rate to return to what it was prior to the sprint. As your conditioning improves, jog or walk between sprints. This is a great way to kick start anyone who feels as if they’ve plateaued in their weight-loss program.

Platform step ups with a knee drive increase power in the hips and thighs and improves hip range of motion. This exercise is a good beginner-level SAQ drill because the height of the step and the speed of the movement can be easily modified. Your trainer can also observe the how your foot falls to ensure your safety during this drill. Try to lift your knees high and look forward while you focus on proper form. You’d be surprised how many people want to stare at their feet.

Hill running is a challenging and effective exercise. If an athlete is in an off-season phase in which he is focusing on power and strength, hill running challenges even the best-conditioned people. However, if you go at your own pace you will benefit regardless of your fitness level. The intervals can be as simple as run to the top, walk down and repeat. Running up a hill forces you to take quick steps and integrate your core for proper body lean.

Don’t like to run? Try intervals during your bike rides or pick up the pace on the elliptical. Alternating 60 second bursts of speed with less intense work is an efficient way to burn more calories in less time. Other great additions for SAQ work include groucho walks (improves hip flexibility and strength), fast plyometric jumps (reaction time), hip abduction strength work (glute medius activation), Turkish get ups (for core strength and stability), supine marching (core integration) and carioca (foot quickness).