You may think you know if you’re in shape or not based on how you stack up to your circle of friends or the person working out next to you in the gym or on a leaderboard. But this type of comparison is not only the thief of joy, it’s also not really an accurate measure of your fitness level. A better bet is to perform tests that gauges various markers of performance, such as endurance, speed, flexibility, and core strength. Another to consider is the T-test for agility.
An agility test allows you to understand how efficient your movements are and if you’re able to stay light, quick, and smart on your feet—all of which are super important skills to have, not just for workouts but also in everyday life. Good agility means you’ll likely handle abrupt changes, and you’ll be able to handle slips or trips smoothly while maintaining control to avoid getting hurt.
What is the T-test for Agility?
“The T-test is an agility test designed to measure one’s ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change directions rapidly while maintaining body control, balance, and speed,” says John Shackleton, CSCS. It’s used by trainers as a reliable way to measure leg speed, power, and agility, because “it demands that an athlete be able to explode forward, laterally, and even backwards,” adds celebrity trainer Vince Sant, CPT. The T-test help trainers like Shackleton and Sant assess the athletic ability of their clients and then create personalized and efficient fitness programs based on those results.
Specifically, the T-test involves sprints, shuffles, and backpedal in four directions rapidly. You can do it either indoors and out and with minimum equipment—all you need is a stop watch, four cones (water bottles also work!) and measuring tape.
How to perform one
Set the first cone up as the starting line. From cone one, measure 10 yards straight ahead, and place the second cone there. Set the third cone down five yards to the left of cone two, and finally, the fourth cone goes five yards to the right of cone two to form a letter “T.”
The goal is to see how fast you can do the following: Sprint from cone one to cone two, touch its base (not the top), then side shuffle to cone three, and touch its base with your left hand. Now shuffle all the way to cone four, tap its base with your right hand, and then shuffle back to cone two. Finally, run backwards past cone one, and you’re done.
“Because the T-test is more coordination-focused than power or conditioning focused, you can do it fairly often without it detracting from your other training,” Sant says. It would fit in nicely as part of your warm-up before a workout, especially if your coordination is what’s holding you back in your workout performance, he says.
What your T-test for agility results mean
For men, a time of < 9.50 seconds is excellent, while a range of 9.51–10.50 seconds is good, anywhere from 10.51–11.51 seconds is average and a score that’s > 11.50 seconds is considered to need improvement. For women, a score of < 10.50 seconds is excellent, a range between 10.51–11.50 seconds is good, anywhere from 11.51–12.50 seconds is average and a score that’s > 12.50 seconds is considered to need improvement.
How to improve your T-test for agility time
“Get your lower body stronger with squats, lunges, and split squats since strength is a prerequisite for speed, acceleration, and deceleration,” says Shackleton. The stronger you are, the more force you can produce to move both faster when needed and to put the brakes on (aka decelerate) in order to change direction quickly and efficiently. “Incorporate speed and agility days into your training at least 2 times per week for best results,” he adds, who suggests trying this sample session yourself, as it incorporates the same movements performed in the T-test:
- 10 x 10 yard sprints with 30 seconds rest in between sets
- 10 x 10 yard shuffles—you’ll shuffle five yards to the left, then five back to the right—with 30 seconds rest in between sets
- 10 x 10 yard backpedalling with 30 seconds rest in between sets
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