If you’ve been following me for the last few years you know we use the sled frequently in our training. Our athletes will use the sled to improve speed, build upper and lower body strength, develop power, and much more!
1. Improves Unilateral Lower Body Strength
Heavy sled pushes and heavy sled drags are great for improving unilateral lower body strength. Just load up the sled with as much weight as possible and push or drag it for a desired distance. For heavy sled pushes and drags our athletes with perform anywhere from 4-6 sets x 10-30 total yards per set.
2. Fast Recovery Time
The sled and it’s many variations are concentric in nature. Meaning, very little eccentric stress. The eccentric portion (lowering portion) of an exercise is what contributes to the most muscular soreness and fatigue.
3. Improves Lower Body Power & Speed
When we’re trying to develop speed and power we will contrast heavy sled pushes and heavy sled drags with sprints, jumps or plyometrics. Below, I included an example of a contrast pairing where we utilize the prowler to improve sprinting speed. In this case, the sled push helps the athlete run in the correct form of acceleration, which improves his technique on the unloaded 10-yard sprint that follows.
4. Improves Upper Body Strength
The sled is a fantastic tool for building upper body strength! Here’s a few of our favorite upper body strength exercises utilizing the sled.
Hand-Over-Hand Rope Sled Pull
The hand-over-hand rope sled pull is an exercise we will use to build strength in the upper back, forearms, biceps, and core! Programming wise, our athletes will perform 4-6 sets x 10-20 yards.
High Plank Rope Sled Pull
Here’s another challenging movement for the core, shoulders, and grip. We will use this exercises at the conclusion of our workouts as more of a finisher. Programming wise, our athletes will perform 3-4 sets x 10-20 yards per arm.
5. Improves Acceleration Sprint Mechanics
Heavy sled drags and heavy sled pushes allow you to learn and practice acceleration mechanics at slower speeds. To perform these exercises properly, you need to posses a good forward body lean, and maintain a positive shin angle.
6. Improves Core Strength
Another benefit of sled sprints and heavy sled pushes is the challenge it presents to your core. To keep the sled in the straight line, you need to stay tight and brace your midsection. If you lose your core while trying to push the sled, you will not be able to keep the sled in a straight path.
7. Enhances Hip and Ankle Mobility
When performing sled pushes and sled drags, aim for full hip extension on each stride. By doing this you’re able to get a dynamic stretch of the hip flexors as well as the calves and achilles.
8. Trains Scapular Stability and Upward Rotation
When performing sled pushes you’re also improving scapular stability and driving good scapular upward rotation. Both of which are massively important to the overhead throwing athlete.
9. Safe Option for Athletes with Low Back Pain
The sled is a fantastic option for athletes with a history of low back pain. With the sled, there is zero spinal compression making it a safe exercise to load up without inducing stress on the athletes lumbar spine.
10. Great for Improving Conditioning/G.P.P.
Early in the off-season we will use the sled to improve work capacity/G.P.P. Here’s an example of a four week progression of sled push sprints where the volume increases each week.
Prowler Push Workouts (90 LB loaded on sled) Week 1: 10 Sled Push Sprints x 20 yards - Rest: EMOM Week 2: 12 Sled Push Sprints x 20 yards - Rest: EMOM Week 3: 15 Sled Push Sprints x 20 yards - Rest: EMOM Week 4: 20 Sled Push Sprints x 20 yards - Rest: EMOM Rest Periods: EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) Every Minute on The Minute: Right before you perform your first prowler sprint start your stop watch. When the clock hits 1 minute you will begin your next sled sprint
If you’re up for it, here’s another fantastic conditioning challenge we will use from time to time. Warning, this challenge is harder than it looks!
Sled Push Sprint Pyramid Challenge - Rest 90 seconds after each set Set 1: 90 LB (2 plates) x 20 yards Set 2: 180 LB (4 plates) x 20 yards Set 3: 270 LB (6 plates) x 20 yards Set 4: 360 LB (8 plates) x 20 yards Set 5: 450 LB (10 plates) x 20 yards Set 6: 360 LB (8 plates) x 20 yards Set 7: 270 LB (6 plates) x 20 yards Set 8: 180 LB (4 plates) x 20 yards Set 9: 90 LB (2 plates) x 20 yards
Hopefully this article was helpful! If you have any additional comments or questions please feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org