By building muscle, boosting your metabolism and helping blast calories fast, a speed ladder can help you slim down your legs. A speed ladder is exercise equipment used for calisthenics exercises. Calisthenics use your own body weight as resistance to do exercises to boost your cardiovascular fitness, increase your strength and help burn fat. Ladder exercises recruit all the muscles in your body at once, but your lower-body muscles -- including the glutes, hamstrings and quads -- are emphasized and challenged the most.
Lay down a speed ladder on the ground to do ladder exercises. The goal is to avoid touching any parts of the ladder with your feet as you do jumping and running exercises to get from one end of the ladder to the other as fast as you can. Even traditional hopscotch is a muscle-building exercise for your legs. The faster you do ladder exercises, the more you challenge your leg muscles. A common agility ladder exercise is the lateral shuffle, where you shuffle across the ladder sideways as fast as you can by touching each foot into every square as you make your way across.
If your goal is to lose leg fat, ladder exercises can help. They raise your heart rate, giving you a cardio workout that burns lots of calories. Also, by activating all the muscles in your body and recruiting explosive power, they cause more fat-burning hormones to be released. Improving your cardio fitness not only helps you shed weight, but also can help ward off heart disease and improve your performance in all types of exercises. Calisthenics exercises like ladder drills allow you to get a cardio workout without the risk of losing muscle mass; in fact, you'll gain muscle. To actually lose fat, you must burn more calories than you consume on a daily basis.
Different ladder exercises emphasize different muscles in your legs. For example, to do the in-out drill, jump and place your feet inside the ladder, then jump again and land them outside the ladder and repeat this pattern until you get to the end. This works your inner and outer thighs, among other muscles. Drills that require you to jump onto one foot emphasize your glutes, which help you balance and give you power to jump. All jumping exercises work your hamstrings and quads, which you recruit for explosive power. High-knee runs using a speed ladder build your hip flexors, which can increase your sprinting speed. Ladder exercises generally work all your muscles at once, helping you gain overall strength and explosive power.
Ladder drills are often performed in sports training and conditioning programs, since they improve speed, agility and coordination. They also boost your explosive power, which is important for soccer, basketball and most other sports. By making quick, explosive moves, you recruit the fast-twitch fibers in your muscles, and the stronger those fibers are, the more explosive your muscles are.
Ben Prien is a fitness writer, personal trainer and workout enthusiast. He's been writing fitness articles since 2012 and has worked at "Men’s Fitness" and "Muscle & Fitness" magazines. He specializes in sports conditioning, muscle training, weight loss and sports nutrition.