Weighted Training Sleds – Increase Your Speed, Strength, and Explosiveness

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Weighted Training Sleds

Westside Barbell Gym (a popular and progres­sive training facility for powerlifters) training methods, such as progressive resistance using chains and bands, have gradually seeped into the fitness from the strength and conditioning world. Another of their fantastic tools, which has become hugely popular in recent years, is the sled. In this post you will find out how to use weighted training sleds in order to get the most out of this great weight training equipment.

What is Weighted Training Sled?

A Prowler (a.k.a. Lung Breaker) training sled is a flat sheet of metal that holds weight plates, sandbags, or rocks (or anything heavy). By connecting one end of a rope to the sled and the other end to yourself—via a belt or a set of handles—you can pull the sled across a flat surface, such as grass, a gym floor, or a track or macadam.

Exercise equipment: Push/Pull Training Sleds

Exercise equipment: Push/Pull Training Sleds

What are the benefits of using weighted training sleds?

There are many advantages of using weighted training sleds. Due to the high-intensity effort required to perform sled drags and pushes, your body’s response is a greater release of testosterone and growth hormone. But better still, these exercises also help you increase your speed, reaction time, strength, and explosiveness. In the gym, that advantage can help pre-condition your muscles to withstand longer, more intense workouts, which can lead to a boost in testosterone.

Sled training also makes an impact on your overall functional strength by teaching your arms, legs, and core muscles to work together. It’s an advantage that makes your body better at stabilizing itself during squats, deadlifts, lunges, and other multi-joint, muscle-building exercises—so you’re able to lift heavier weight loads.

Muscles engaged in sled pushing and pulling

Sled pushing and pulling develops some solid strength in the glutes, calves, hamstrings, quads, and core. Therefore, sleds are great training tools for runners, sprinters, or any athlete looking to improve their explosive leg power (and, in doing so, build some absolutely shredded legs).

Basic Exercise #1: Sled Push (Prowler Push)

This exercise improves force production capabilities and mimics certain combative and sport situations in which people attempt to move or redirect an opponent. Use sled pushes to develop good lower-body power. You can use the same exercise for lower-body endurance by varying the amount of time used for each repetition and the amount of recovery time.

Sled Push (Prowler Push)

Sled Push (Prowler Push)

Steps:

  • Load a training sled with approximately 20 to 30 percent of your body weight.
  • Grab the handlebars, set the back, and drive the knee of one leg toward the chest while forcefully  extending the ankle, knee, and hip of the other leg to drive the sled forward.
  • Push the sled for a set distance or a predetermined time.

Key points:

  • Maintain a rigid trunk throughout the duration of the exercise.
  • Do not round the shoul­ders while driving the sled forward.
  • Focus on pushing the ground away with every stride.

Basic Exercise #2: Sled Pull

In this exercise, you’ll be pulling the sled using a harness. Use a lighter weight than you would with the sled push.

Sled pull

Sled pull

With your arms behind you at about hip level, stay tight and start walking forward. You’ll have to dig in hard to pull heavy, driving with the balls of your feet. Don’t try to pull with your arms. This really hits the quads hard.

Alternative. This variation also requires a weight sled and a rope. Add a few plates to the weight sled and then attach the rope. Start at the opposite end of the rope and begin using your arms to pull the sled towards you as quickly as possible. This is a phenomenal arm workout because it requires con­tinuous movement.

Sled rope pull

Sled rope pull

Closing thoughts about training sleds

Sled training is an incredible way to train for athletic speed and improved performance, but also for the everyday person to improve functional strength, fitness and achieve fat loss. Strongmen, combat fighters, rugby and football players, and any athlete interested in improving speed, power, strength and stability can use sled training within their strength and conditioning programme. Weighted training sleds are generally used for speed development, but when they are loaded above 10 percent of total body weight, the emphasis shifts from speed of movement to training the glycolytic (anaerobic) energy system.

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