WSBB Blog: The Sled
By: Westside Barbell Educational Team
One of the most functional and cost effective pieces of equipment a gym can have is a sled. When utilized correctly, the sled offers multiple ways to enhance your GPP levels and expand the base of your strength pyramid.
As an athlete, maintaining and exceeding the GPP level needed to compete in your sport is essential if you want to improve sport performance. At Westside we drag the sled for lower body training, and press or do tricep extensions for upper body training.
You will see powerlifters, fighters, and track and field athletes using the sled. Here are a few ways to include sled training in your training program.
As a Warm Up Exercise
Using the sled to warm up is a great way to prepare for a lower body training day. Keep the sled weight low, and pull from multiple directions. You can start out dragging the sled back and forth for a few laps, then transition to pulling the sled backwards, as well as lateral sled pulls to warm up the hips.
Recommended distance is 20-30 yards moving continuously over the course of a 10 minute warm up period. This will properly warm up the hips and legs for squats or deadlifts, as well as elevating the heart rate and getting blood moving.
As an Accessory Exercise
Sled pulls can be used as an accessory exercise for both upper and lower training days. Once again, you can pull the sled forward, backward, or laterally step. Heavy forward sled pulls place great demand on the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and calves depending on your foot strike.
If you drive off of the ball of your foot you will utilize your hamstrings and calves more, if you strike your foot heel to toe you will utilize more glute and hamstring. Heavy backward sled pulls are a good way to target the quadriceps along with the previously mentioned muscles.
You can also add in a loaded SSB barbell to carry while dragging the sled for added intensity. A good way to target the hips and trunk are heavy lateral side steps. Focusing on maintaining a braced trunk, and laterally step leading with the right leg one trip, then the left leg on the return trip. You can attack the upper torso as well.
By attaching a tricep extension strap to the sled rope you can perform walking presses or walking tricep extensions. Each of these exercises should be performed using the heaviest weight possible while still achieving the amount of trips prescribed. The optimal amount of trips and distance is 8-12 trips done at a distance of 15-20 yards. A short rest period can be taken between trips.
As a Finishing Exercise
On max effort and dynamic effort days you can use a sled as a way to train GPP, and finish your training day. Add a light to moderate amount of sled weight, and drag it for distance. At Westside, this typically means taking a few trips around the building.
This is done until an adequate amount of fatigue is achieved, and then the workout is ended. The distance is around 100-150 yards per trip.