Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of sledpulls:
– Improves strength-speed
– Improves strength-endurance
– Improves muscular imbalance
– Deload from the barbell (no external loading)
– Improves body-composition
– Improves aerobic capacity
– Facilitates recovery
As you can see, the list of benefits of power-walking with a sled is pretty lengthy. With that said, power-walking with a weighted sled should be a staple in your programming. Regardless of your goals, sled pulls will improve your strength and aerobic/anaerobic capabilities. It’s also great for restoration. And the extra work for the posterior chain will help to improve body composition.
For athletes, power-walking with a weighted sled is a must. With just about any sport, improving sprint speed and change of direction is important. With the sled, we can effectively build the primary movers that are involved with both aspects of athletics without your athletes needed a prerequisite movement skills.
Below I’m going to outline a full plan that will cover all of our bases in terms of strengthening for both high-power and low power endurance properties as well as recovery measures. In addition, I’ll also some highlight some variations that can be used for the upper-body.
We’ll be adding sled work twice a week with 2 optional days. One day will be for general strengthening purposes and the second will be done for strength-endurance. A third day can be added for restoration, but that’s totally up to you. Here’s the plan:
Day 1: Strength Work
8-10 sets of 60 yards. Rest 60 seconds between rounds.
For most lifters, pulling your bodyweight is about right. That includes the weights on the sled and the weight of the sled itself. But remember, the weight you choose should allow you to be a forceful as possible from set 1 to set 10, so adjust as needed.
Day 2 (48 hours later): Strength Endurance Work
16-20 sets of 60 yards. Rest 60 seconds between rounds.
Use about three-fourths of your bodyweight or three-fourths of Monday’s weight.
Day 3: (24 hours later): Recovery Work/Long Duration Work
Set a clock for 20 minutes and pull a light sled rotating between walking forward, backward, and laterally.
Day 4 (24 hours later): Warm-up/Finisher
400 meters with half of your bodyweight at the beginning of your regular workout plus 400 meters at the end. If you’re an endurance athlete you could pull for even longer distance, but for most 400 meters is going to take around 8-10 minutes. It’s not uncommon for us to prescribe 20 minutes of sledpulling for our competitive CrossFitters though.
Remember to be forceful on each step with a heel-toe action. If you’re being forceful, the sled will jerk from side to side.
This is work that can be included in your current program in an alternate session and won’t take longer than 20 minutes. Give this a try for four weeks and you’ll be amazed by the results.
Sledwork for the Upper-body
The sled also works wonders for the upper-body. We can perform variations such as face pulls and rows. I prefer to prescribe upper-body sled work for warm-up and for a finisher. For example,
3 Rounds of:
50 Ft. Sledpull Rows
50 Ft. Sledpull Face Pulls
15 Banded Pushdowns
No rest between movements.
50 Ft. Sledpull Row + Facepulls
50 Ft. Single Arm Farmer Carry on each side
10 Bar Dips
In short, I can’t think of a better tool than the sled for athletes of all levels. We have to keep in mind that we can’t consistently externally load our athletes. The sled allows us to break-up the barbell work, expedite recovery, improve muscular imbalance, and improve strength and endurance. Sleds are relatively inexpensive so picking up a few will go a long way to ensuring your clients are staying healthy and consistently improving. To check out some high-quality sleds, click here.
If you’re looking for an accessory program to complement your current training regime, check out our “Special Exercise Programming”.