How to Do Zig Zags: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

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Also known as: side zig zags, drill zig zag

Target: Lower body

Necessary equipment: Cone

Level: Advanced

Zig zags are a type of agility exercise that can challenge the cardiovascular system while also working the muscles of the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, abs (calves), and thighs (shins). These quick movements increase your heart rate, challenge both balance and coordination, and can improve speed and athletic performance, especially in certain types of sports like soccer or ball. rock.


There are several different ways to do zig zag exercises. The zig zag described here involves jumping from one cone to another. But some people jump over the cone, some people run in a zig-zag around the cone, some people use fast feet in a zig-zag drill with an agile ladder, and others combine a zig-zag drill. with other movements such as a box drill.

The characteristic that often defines zig zags is that they require you to move diagonally very quickly.

Better sports preparation

During training, athletes often move in a vertical fashion (such as when you are running or sprinting) or move from side to side (such as when you are doing a jump). horizontal). But many competitive sports require more complex movement patterns.

For example, when you chase a soccer ball in a match, you have the ability to combine multiple moves (forward, back, sideways and diagonal) to defeat your opponent. If you practice these movement patterns during training, your body will be better prepared for them during competition.

Physiologists use the acronym “SARQ” to describe this type of training. SARQ stands for speed, agility, responsiveness and quickness. Athletes in many different sports and at different levels benefit from SARQ training. These exercises are often included in programs for athletes of sports such as volleyball, soccer, and soccer to increase performance.Quick movements mimic the skills needed during competition.

Improved interaction

Exercises that include SARQ-style exercises also enhance interaction by forcing your body to interact with the device, other participants, and/or your surroundings. For example, training exercises and playground-style exercises include zig zags with cones, agility ladder exercises, rope workouts, heavy wheel lifts, and equipment-based exercises. other.

They’re popular in gyms around the country because time flies when your brain is active. In fact, studies have shown that this type of exercise encourages adherence to an exercise program.

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High-intensity functional training

Zig zags can also be incorporated into high-intensity functional training (HIFT) exercises. HIFT emphasizes functional, multi-joint movements and uses both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises. The zig zag requires muscular strength and strength to jump but also cardiovascular endurance to keep the pattern moving from one cone to another.

According to the researchers, high-intensity functional training can build greater muscle mass than traditional exercises. HIFT can be modified to any fitness level and improves cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility.

Other benefits of HIFT include improved maximal oxygen consumption, reduced body fat, improved bone mineral content, improved cardiovascular endurance, and improved athletic performance (including agility, speed, strength and power).

Step by step instructions

Before trying this or any exercise, you should be in good health. Always seek the guidance of your healthcare provider if you are new to exercise or if you are returning to exercise after an injury, illness, or pregnancy. You can also work with a qualified fitness trainer to get form tips and exercise advice.

Since this is an advanced exercise, you will need some experience doing plyometric exercises. Plyometrics are jumping exercises or exercises that require you to take both feet off the ground at the same time. For example, jumping on a box is a plyometric exercise.

While plyometric training offers benefits, it also comes with some risks. It is possible to land incorrectly and injure yourself or fall while learning plyometrics. Try a few basic plyometric moves like the squat or side jump before doing the zig zag.

Dance Zig Zag

It’s best to do this exercise outside or in a large indoor space like a gym. You will also need 9-12 cones. It will take a few minutes to set up before starting the exercise.


Place the cones about 3 feet apart in a zigzag pattern. That is, place one cone in front of you, then place the next cone about 3 feet to the right diagonally. The next cone will go about three feet to the left diagonally, and so on.

You may need to adjust the distance between each cone after you run through a zig zag drill. You want the cones to be close enough together that you can continue the jump without taking extra steps, but far enough away that it forces you to challenge your abilities.

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Zig Zag . Drilling Machine

Start standing in front of the first cone at the base of the zig zag.

  1. Bend your knees and jump forward diagonally to the second cone. Use your arms to swing upwards to gain momentum.
  2. In the second cone, land gently with knees bent to prepare for the next jump.
  3. Immediately spring forward and jump diagonally and to the left towards the third cone.
  4. Continue jumping diagonally from one cone to another until you reach the last cone.
  5. Turn and return to the original position.

Do a zig zag drill for 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Incorporate it into a cardio workout or into a workout style training program.

Common mistake

There are some common mistakes to look for when doing a zig zag.

Short jump

When you first learn how to zig zag, your jump may be short and low off the ground. This is good when you are studying. But in the end, you want to make sure you jump high enough and far enough that you feel challenged and your heart rate stays up.

Hard landing

If you land with stiff, straight legs, the joints in your lower body may be affected. It will also be more difficult to enter the next jump.

Make sure you land gently with your knees bent. The bend provides a cushion. When your feet are in contact with the floor, continue to bend your knees and lower your arms so you can immediately bounce back up (using your arms) and tie into the next cone.

Modifications and Variations

Need a modification?

The simplest way to make this exercise easier is to start with the cones closer together. That way, you can keep the movements smaller. If you’re working with kids or if the exercise is new to you, this is a good way to get comfortable with this type of plyometric movement.

Want to join a challenge?

There are countless zig zag drills that can challenge you.

For example, you can combine zig zag jumping with box running. To try this modification, set up four cones in a zig zag and then four cones in a square. Start by jumping diagonally to perform a zig zag drill. Then run in a box formation after four jumps. That is, run forward of the first cone. Keep facing forward, but run sideways to the left to reach the second cone, run counter to the third cone, then run sideways to the right to the last cone. Sprint to start and start over.

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Many people also do the zig zag as a sprint exercise rather than a jumping exercise. For this drill, you still place the cones in a zigzag pattern, but much further apart. Instead of jumping from one cone to another, you sprint from one cone to another while keeping your body forward. This requires you to run diagonally and change direction quickly as you reach each cone.

Finally, you can do a zig zag version using an agility ladder. To perform this exercise, place the agility ladder in front of you. Start at the bottom of the ladder and jump on a diagonal right to the outside of the first square. Immediately jump on a diagonal to the left to the outside of the second square. The ground is soft and bound up and over the right side of the third square. Continue the pattern until the end. Go back and repeat the pattern from the beginning or do another nimble drill to the starting position.

Safety and Precautions

You must have strong knees, ankles, and feet to do zig zag exercises. You should also make sure you’re jumping on a surface that has some benefit to it.

Repeatedly jumping on very hard surfaces (such as concrete) can cause muscle damage from more exercise. Consider doing these exercises on grass or even sand (which will make jumping and running much harder). Indoor gyms also have decks for safer dancing.


Incorporate zig zag exercises into any of these exercises.

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