The sled is one of the very best pieces of equipment I have ever used, hands down. It is extremely versatile and effective, and with that in mind, it is relatively cheap compared to other pieces of equipment. If you are lucky enough to have access to one at your gym, use it.
If you don’t have one, buy one. They can be expensive, but if people can buy $100 bracelets that tell them they don’t exercise enough, they can afford a sled.
Below are 7 really good exercises you can do with a sled. But first…
What Makes It So Special?
- No eccentric phase – or the the lowering part of an exercise (think the going down part of a squat). Eccentric muscle actions cause the most muscle damage, and therefore, the most soreness. When you take that out you can train with a high amount of volume and frequency without getting sore. This makes sled training ideal for beginners, rehab, or conditioning workouts
- Versatility. You can really load it up with weight or have next to nothing on it. Using the squat as an example again, there will be situations where a person can not squat with just their bodyweight, let alone any weight. But I have never seen a situation where a person can’t drag a sled.
- Injury. It’s almost impossible to get hurt pushing or pulling a sled.
- It is Conan approved.
Lower Body Focused
Hits the quads unlike any other exercise. These are great for working around or preventing knee injuries.
Targets more of the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, calves) than backward dragging. Leaning forward will also have more of a cardiovascular effect.
These can be done walking slow or sprinting, or anywhere in between. I like to do light forward drags as a warmup before squats or deadlifts.
People (athletes in particular) need to be able to move in a variety of directions, not just forward and backward, so I use these often. They are great for strengthening smaller muscles around the hips that don’t get as much work from forward or backward drags.
These can also be done walking or running.
Upper Body Focused
Most sled training, and conditioning in general, is very lower body focused. These next few incorporate more upper body work, making them great total-body exercises. These are all ass-kickers.
Sled Rope Pull
Sled Rows/1 Arm Rows
The Prowler is a type of sled with upright handles that you can push or pull on instead of attaching a strap like a standard sled. It can be used for any sled exercise, so if you could only buy one, this would be it.
Pushing a prowler is the very best sled exercise you can do, IMO. You will get stronger, leaner, in better shape, and maybe even have a religious experience or two when doing hard Prowler workouts.
It works. Really, really, really well. Do it.
You can run, walk, or crawl. Load it up with a ton of weight or keep it light. There are almost endless possibilities, but a few of my favorite prowler workouts are below (the weight used really depends on the surface you push on, some will be much harder than others).
10 sprints x 40 yards
Rest: 60s between
Weight: 140lbs (added to sled)
20 runs (75% of max speed) x 40 yards
Start a stopwatch on the first run. The next run starts at the top of each minute.
Weight: 50 -90lbs
8 trips (walking) x 20 yards
Rest: 1-2 minutes (or however long necessary)
Weight: As heavy as possible. Usually between 360-450lbs