The sled… Arguably the most hated piece of equipment in the whole gym. Your legs are burning, lungs are screaming for air, sweating profusely and oh yeah… YOU HAVE 3 MORE SETS. Although this exercise may seem like a form of torture there is a method to our madness.
While performing a backwards sled drag or forward sled push you may feel like you have just maxed out every muscle in your body. However, this exercise has a fast recovery time with a very low risk for injury. Because of its concentric nature, there is no eccentric loading of the exercise where muscle damage typically occurs in other exercises we perform. This means less wear and tear on the body allowing you to recover quickly with little soreness. Along with this, sled work is a great tool for the rehabilitation and prevention of ankle, knee and hip injuries, promoting strength and stability in the joint with little muscle damage. For programming, it allows us to add volume, frequency, and/or intensity to the workout without joint/muscle soreness or risk of injury. For this reason, sleds are used frequently for athletes because they can be used in season without impeding recovery.
Another bonus? The sled is very easy to learn. There are no technical skills required, making it suitable for all fitness levels. The exercise is specific in nature to running and sprinting and has a great carryover effect. Pushing a sled creates proper motor patterns and strengthens muscles critical for running. Similarly, sleds are great for sport specific conditioning. Often used to improve power, strength, and endurance this exercise is also used to improve the connection of the upper and lower body which is crucial for producing maximal power output. Not an athlete? Sleds are also a great way to burn that pesky fat you’ve been trying to get rid of. Studies have shown that sled sprints of 20-30 meters performed in intervals produce favorable metabolic responses that stimulate fat burning. Research also suggests that interval training is particularly effective for reducing subcutaneous fat, which is the layer of fat just below the skin.
The versatility of the sled means the options are endless. Whether training the lower body, upper body or core and stability, the sled can be used for it all. Push, pull, forward, backward, sideways, bear crawl, row… the fun never ends! Which is why, along with the ability to use the exercise for all training goals, we love to incorporate the sled in our programming. So, the next time you go home cursing your trainer’s name after a nauseating workout, remember the benefits of using a sled and thank your trainer for keeping your best interest in mind.
Poliquin Group, Editorial Staff. “A Push in the Right Direction: Prowlers and Sled Training.” Poliquin Group, 18 July 2017, main.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/2615/A_Push_in_the_Right_Direction_Prowlers_and_Sled_Tr.aspx. Accessed 25 June 2018.