It may be one of the most intimidating pieces of equipment in the gym (alongside the battle ropes), but in truth the sled is pretty much everyone’s friend.
Sure, you may love to hate it – it is tough after all. But chances are, its doing your body some serious good. Stick with it, you may grow to simply love it.
Don’t be put off by thinking it’s just for athletes. These days, you’ll see a wide variety of people giving it a go – from pregnant women to the older gym-goer.
So, what exactly are the benefits of this type of training?
It may feel as tough as hell while you are doing it, but you won’t get the same degree of muscle damage and soreness that you get with standard strength training.
Why? Because this type of training lacks eccentric loading. In simple terms, that is the negative part of a movement which creates large amounts of muscular tension.
The heavy nature of the equipment also limits you to low-speed and low-duration bouts of effort. This also helps reduces the loading on the joints and muscles.
That doesn’t mean to say that it’s easy, however. You’ll definitely feel the impact on your body while you are on that strip of track.
Working to prevent and rehabilitate injuries
We’ve already talked about how sled training can prevent soreness. But beyond the lack of aching muscles and joints, it can actually also help with injury prevention and rehabilitation.
If you are recovering from a hip, ankle or knee injury, try incorporating this piece of equipment as you return to exercise. It’s a great way of safely building strength.
And if you are looking for some low impact ways to add cardio into your workout, look no further.
Hitting the sled for 20 minutes non-stop will get your heart rate into that moderate zone making it a good steady state alternative to high impact exercises like running.
Or add sled sprints into a HIIT circuit for a higher intensity workout that won’t leave you feeling broken.
Makes you faster
Light and fast sled sprints are a great way to work on your acceleration which is beneficial for many sports.
The additional load provided by the sled combined with a focus on sprint technique can yield great results.
How? Because your body will work harder and use more muscles with the end result being greater power and speed.
Sled training isn’t just about speed. It can be a great strength and conditioning alternative for the entire body. Why? Because it works pretty much every muscle but with the benefits of minimal joint loading.
While you go light and fast for speed training, go heavier with your strength workouts. The sled is self-limiting so you can only push as much as you can, again making it a great way of training without injury.
That also means it is a great lower body alternative to squats for those with delicate knees.
Mixing things up
The sled can be used in a variety of ways which means you can use it to keep your workouts varied and interesting. As discussed already, you can load it up to work on strength, or keep it light and fast to help build speed.
It’s not going to be easy, but what’s more satisfying than a challenge?
Not sure where to begin?
Start with a simple sled push
This is the easiest way to use the sled. Simply get behind it and push. Arms should be nice and long, shoulders drawn away from ears, strides should be big with legs fully extended at the end of each movement.
Move on to a sled backwards drag
Grab onto the long handles or attach straps and adopt a squat position, engage the upper back and open up the chest. Lean back and pull the sled backwards extending through the legs using short steps, moving as quickly as you can.
Then try a sled pull
Attach a rope to the sled, and stretch it along the length of the track. Squat down and ensure spine is neutral – engage upper back and resist temptation to round (this may mean dropping some weight). Pull hand over hand until the sled has moved all the way along the track and then push it back.
The possibilities are endless…
From dragging the sled forwards or backwards with the rope tied around your waist to work on speed, or thrusting the sled forwards with your hands to build power.
Only one thing always stays the same – that lump of metal sure ain’t going to move itself.
Do you love or hate the sled?