Sled Push Alternatives

Let’s suppose you find yourself eager to get started with sled pushes, yet find yourself without a sled. While this can easily be avoided by investing in any of the sleds for a few bucks, sometimes you must be left to fend for yourself and figure out some solid sled push alternatives.

Sled training is no joke, as I am sure you are aware of that. The benefits of sled pulls and sorts were discussed here in my last article.

I find it safe to assume that since you are willing to go through the torment of sled pushes, you will also be willing to give these five great sled push alternatives a valiant effort and try the next time you find yourself without a sled.

It is important to note that some of these movements are unconventional, and you should always do them supervised and/or with training partners, as this article is for informational purposes only. It is up to the athlete and coach to learn how to properly use equipment and take necessary precautions when performing all of these movements below. 

Push a Car

Chances are you have access to a car to do this with. All you need to do is find a friend (or two, as I find it is best to work in 3’s) who will be able to be in the car while it is in neutral to steer to make sure nothing goes wrong. When ready, sit the hips with the arms locked out in front, just like you would do a normal sled push, and start pushing. All the same benefits will be present with the car push as the sled push, maybe even more since you will find you will want to do so many more pushes now that you are taking your strength into the real world.

Plate Push

This one is pretty basic and just as grueling as the sled push. Simply place a bumper plate on the floor (I would use a 20kg plate) and get low, placing your hands in front of your. With plate pushes, you are not able to go super heavy, however can work with lighter weights to really increase leg turnover. If you find the plate is moving too fast, you either need to keep up or get your body slightly more on top to apply some downward force to increase friction. If you find yourself having issues moving it due to friction, you are not staying low enough.

Treadmill Push

With the treadmill off (or unplugged), assume a running start stance on the belt with your hands fixed to the console. When ready, you will start to drive the legs while keeping the arm sling and straight, as this will start the turn the treadmill belt over The high amounts of friction of the belt acts as resistance (complete opposite of treadmill running), making treadmill pushes a very similar, yet stationary, alternative to sled push training.

Uphill Sprints

Uphill sprinting forces an athlete to drive the legs higher and produce greater amounts of force to be able to go uphill (as opposed to flat or downhill running). In comparison with the sled push, speed and leg strength can come into play. Simply choose a moderate hill with a moderate incline and start sprinting.

Wind Resistance Parachute Sprints

If you have ever seen athletes and/or track athletes sprinting with wind chutes behind them, now is you chance to join them! Wind chutes are a great way to increase leg power, strength, and metabolic demand on the body when sprinting. The chutes are inexpensive, and can come in a wide array of sizes and resistance levels (based on body weight and level). Simply tether the chute behind you and take off, as the wind chute will open and catch air, adding resistance while you are running.

Overhead Walking Lunges

Like sled pushes, walking lunges are a very demanding movement on leg strength and stamina. The unilateral nature of both sled and lunges is also an added benefit of each. By placing loads overhead, you increase shoulder, arm, and core involvement, we well as increase metabolic demands of the moment. I prefer using a barbell of lighter unilateral tools like dumbbell or kettlebells.

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.