The Sled Push
Over recent years sled pushing has taken off once again, this old school method of training for cardio, leg drive and conditioning - inspired by the powerful scandinavian tree loggers is used by bodybuilders, CrossFit coaches and high level sporting teams to dial in their athletes' performance.
Sled Push Benefits
If you've got access to a sled and you're not using it you're missing out... here's why.
It improves conditioning drastically
The physical exertion required to push a heavy sled is matched only by deadmills.
The increase in heart rate, the leg drive and endurance required to see through a sled push workout will transfer over into improved conditioning in other disciplines too.
Whether you're a basketballer or a bodybuilder you'll benefit from the conditioning benefits of your sled push workouts.
It improves leg drive
It may look slightly deceiving as you'd think the sled push targets the arms, shoulders and chest from the pushing movement - but that's not quite the case.
Your legs are the driving force here, literally.
You'll find that the strength, drive and endurance gains you make via your sled push workout translates across to an increased performance in terms of strength and endurance on your big compound leg exercises.
If you've hit a plateau on your squats or leg press I recommend throwing some sled pushing into your workout regime to break through that plateau.
It'll develop your core strength
When we're performing abdominal isolation exercises such as the sit-up our core is engaged only for the duration of the repetition, with the sled push on the other hand you're going to be utilizing your core for every second of your sled push. Your upper abdominals, lower abdominals and your often neglected lower back which also forms part of your core will be under immense load as you stabilize and drive the sled forward.
Alternating your hand positioning on the sled (higher or lower) will place emphasis on different areas of the core.
There's no frills
Unlike a rower, a treadmill or a spin bike there's no moving parts, there's no need to plug it into a powerpoint or perform any maintenance at all.
Your sled is just that, a sled.
Load up the weight and get pushing, there's no excuse as to why you can't.
If you don't have access to a traditional prowler sled it's simply a matter of improvising - load up a bench with 20kg plates and get pushing.
Sick of the sled push? want to place emphasis on some different muscles?
There's endless variations of conditioning exercise that can be performed with your sled, for example:
- High sled pushes
- Low sled pushes
- Sled lunge pushes
- Sled sprints
- Sled pulls
- Sled suicides
- Sled resistance band pulls
- Backwards sled pushes
- Sled strongman rope pulls
Those are a number of the sled exercise variations which can be coupled with many, many different work and recovery times.
30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, 100 metre sled pushes for time, rounds of HIIT in the form of the tabata protocol...
Sled pushes are excellent for developing the quad drive, responsible for increasing acceleration off the mark.
If you're a sprinter or an athlete that's looking to increase your acceleration adding sled pushes into the mix will compliment your sprints and build immense leg drive with the resistance of the sled.
An excellent form of active recovery
Active recovery helps to get the blood flowing and the nutrients pumping throughout your body.
When your legs are sore sled pushes are probably the last thing you're thinking of doing, but here's the thing - sled pushes are an excellent form of active recovery after an intense leg workout.
the position of a sled push workout is fairly neutral - you're not squatting down into an ATG position and there's no impact involved.
By performing several rounds of sled pushes the day after my leg workout I find the delayed onset muscle soreness I get is vastly reduced, not to mention I increase my conditioning and strengthen my core at the same time.
My Sled Push Workout Recommendations:
Sled Push Workout 1:
50 yard sled sprint
30 seconds rest between rounds
Sled Push Workout 2:
25 yard sled push
50 yard sled push
10 seconds rest between rounds
400m sled push for time
200m sled pull for time
Sled Push Workout 4:
Push sled for 1 minute without stopping
Rest for 3 minutes
repeat for 5 rounds
Sled Push Workout 5:
Sprint to the start and back to your sled as fast as possible
Continue to push your heavy sled back - the weight on the sled should result in you having to push fairly slowly to get it moving...
Repeat for 6 rounds
Sled Push Workout 6:
Sled pull for 20 seconds at maximum intensity
1 minute rest
Sled push for 20 seconds at maximum intensity
Rest for 1 minute before repeating for 10 rounds