If you follow me on instagram (@tommykudobafit), you know that I am a huge proponent of pushing & pulling sleds. It is by far the most superior conditioning tool in the gym and a damn shame that they are not as common as treadmills. Below I will break down the long list of benefits that come with sledding in hopes to convince you to grab a sled and ditch your current cardio machine of choice.
Let’s start with the most important point, ANYONE can use a sled. Here’s why the barrier to entry is non-existent:
– Sledding is a low impact exercise (because you are essentially walking) that can be adjusted to be as easy on your joints as necessary
– The weight is pushed or pulled instead of stacked on top of the trainee, eliminating risk of injury (If too much weight is used the sled simply won’t move)
– Recovery from sledding is quick because it lacks eccentric movements (the portion of the exercise where you lower the weight – and the one that causes the most tissue damage)
Whether you’re just starting out, or training to be a world class athlete, the sled can be a valuable tool for your progress.
Let’s get into the benefits. My favourite one being the development of your feet. Unlike many traditional leg exercises you see in the gym that are performed flat footed (squats, deadlifts, lunges), the sled forces you to drive your toes into the ground each step stretching and strengthening the muscles in your feet, ultimately reversing the weak state that modern shoes have left many of our feet in.
Other benefits of pushing a sled include:
– Improved calf strength and endurance
– Improve glute & hamstring strength and endurance
– Improved ankle strength and health
Now the benefits of pulling. Pulling a sled promotes blood flow to the knees which can help heal current knee issues and protect them from new ones. People can quite literally reverse out of knee pain by pulling a sled backwards.
Other benefits of pulling a sled include:
– Improved quad strength and endurance
– Improved grip strength and endurance
Next, we must discuss the applications of the sled. Like I mentioned earlier, it can be used as a tool for improving your conditioning. Longer duration sessions switching between both pushing and pulling can improve muscular endurance throughout the whole body, as well as cardiovascular health. It can also be used to increase speed and power by doing shorter all out bursts driving the sled across the turf as quickly as you can. This makes it a powerful tool as speed, power, endurance, and cardiovascular health are often critical to athletic success and are markers of a healthy, robust individual.
One last thing you should know is that regardless of how you perform your sledding, by doing so you will be releasing beneficial hormones such as human growth hormone, cortisol, and testosterone, all which help your body function better.
My current sled protocol:
– 3 sets of 9 minutes pushing/pulling with 1 minute breaks
– Use roughly 50% of your body weight loaded on the sled
– Finish with 3×1 length sprints or do sprints separately on their own day