Few exercises are as simple and effective as the sled pull. Nearly everyone can perform them, regardless of ability level, background, and/or goal. They work to increase power, strength, muscle mass, and aerobic endurance, all while sizzling body fat.
Here’s everything you need to know about the sled pull, exercise variations, and benefits.
Sled Pull Exercise Demo and Variations
The great thing about the sled pull is that you have nearly infinite amounts of variations to choose from. Below is a video showing a few of those most common variations. It is important to not that the seated sled pull/drag for the upper body can also be done, in which is that is chosen the strength and size benefits will be specific to the back and arms. In addition, acceleration increases for sprinting and running will also not be present since the upper body is the primary focus.
Benefits of the Sled Pull
Below are some benefits of the sled pull exercise, which is a versatile training option for recovery, injury prevention, strength, muscle hypertrophy, and metabolic conditioning. Note, the below benefits are based off of the movements above in the video. In the event one is referring to the seated sled pull (with the arms), many of the benefits are similar with the exceptions of the ones discussed in the variations section above.
1. Nearly Everyone Can Do Them
This is about as basic as things can get. If someone can walk or crawl, they can do sled pulls. The ability to set this up for youth athletes, elderly, and everywhere in between makes it a very valuable training option for all goals and ability levels. You can simply have the individual grab the straps and pull/drag the weight, or harness them up to the tethers and have them start moving. Heck, I have also seen many adaptive athletes do amazing things with sled pulls being tethered to their wheelchairs where they are able to showcase some inspiring feats of strength, endurance, and tenacity.
2. Total Body Conditioning Workout
If you have ever done a sled pull workout, you will have no issues agreeing with me on this one. The legs, glutes, core, back, shoulders, and arms are all thrust into action during this highly demanding and metabolic workout option, regardless of speed being used or load. Yes, you can manipulate certain variables and change variations to better highlight certain muscle groups, however the systemic stress placed upon the anaerobic and aerobic systems is felt throughout the entire system.
3. Increased Power, Strength, and Size
The sled pull has a muscle contract over long durations, typically at least 30 seconds (unless done for acceleration purposes, see below). When contracting and producing force, sometimes near maximal levels, if the sled is heavy, can create significant strength and size adaptations. Durations of 60-90 seconds can work muscular endurance and hypertrophy, 30-60 seconds producing strength and hypertrophy, with sprint’s of 5-15 seconds working the anaerobic power systems.
4. Perfect for Recovery
Sled work is full of concentric muscle actions, meaning that the lengthen aspect of muscular contractions (called the eccentric contraction) is not present/is minimal, resulting in more oxygen rich blood being pumped into the muscle and metabolites being cleared out of a muscle. Because eccentric muscle action has been linked with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), sled training is a useful exercise to increase blood flow to muscle tissues, clear metabolites, and increase GPP (general physical preparation)
5. Low Chance of Injury
The simplicity and self regulating nature of this exercise (meaning the the user defines their output) makes this a straightforward and low risk movements for all fitness levels. As with any exercise program, if you are unsure of your readiness to participate you should seek a medical professional to have a proper health screening. Once you are set and cleared, seek out a profession, or simply start dragging moderate loads around. It’s quite basic yet offers some pretty amazing results.
6. Improves Acceleration
Athletes, runners, and speed-focused trainees can develop serious acceleration specific to running and sprinting with sled pulls. Lightweight harnesses attached to an athlete can increase force output and ground reaction forces, which in turn will remain once the load is taken off. It is important to note that the load must not be heavy, as the load should not affect the sprinting mechanics of the athlete, rather offer some very light resistance. In the world or most formal sports and sprinting based event, strong athletes are good, slow athletes are bad, and strong and explosive athletes are best!
Cardio Articles for Strength and Power Athletes!
Just because you are a powerlifter, weightlifter, or strongman doesn’t mean you can neglect basic heart health, body composition, and GPP. Check out these article below to see why you should be doing some basic cardiovascular training.
- Here’s What Stefi Cohen Says About Cardio and Powerlifting
- When (and How) Should Strength and Power Athletes Do Cardio
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