Let’s be honest, traditional cardio sucks ass. You’re not a hamster. It’s time to up your cardio game and start to workout with a sled.
I recently told my wife I fell in love again. She hit me with those “I’m so in love with you eyes”, she asked me what had happened to make me feel that way.
“Well I get all the benefits of a doing cardio in less time. It’s a really good fat burner. Plus, I feel like a pro athlete when I use it. I freakin’ love the weighted sled.”
“You’re an idiot.”
That may be a valid point, however it still doesn’t change the fact that the weighted sled, or prowler, is a kick-ass and underutilized piece of equipment.
WHY YOU SHOULD WORKOUT WITH A SLED
I was late to the sled party but you don’t have to. Learn from my oversight and get on the sled bandwagon.
NO ECCENTRIC LOAD
The eccentric portion (or lowering portion) of the movement is the main factor in muscle damage and soreness. Which is good for muscle growth but not everyone is looking to get bigger.
So for the people in the crowd that already have big thighs (thanks mom and dad), the sled won’t put on a lot of size in your legs. You’ll get strong as hell but not bigger.
On top of that, since there is no eccentric portion, your legs won’t take the same beating as squatting or deadlifting would put on them.
SAVE YOUR JOINTS
Running does a number on your hips, knees and ankles when you run with perfect form. The damage you do without perfect form is only goes up. This is due to the higher speeds and sometimes longer durations of running.
Pushing/pulling a sled can’t be done for long periods of time plus it’s done at a relatively low speed. Saving your joints and building a better body.
There is no getting around the fact that most people have some fat to lose, myself included. One of the big things to help accelerate that process to strengthening your legs, the biggest muscle in the body. The more the legs need for fuel, the more fat you’re going to burn.
On top of that, the entire upper body is working to stabilize or move the sled. And you guessed it, that’s more calories used for energy.
Looking for a quick way to increase your cardio? Look no further. Moving the sled drives blood and oxygen all over your body to help with energy production. Rather than just sending blood and oxygen to your legs like with running it’s got to go everywhere, which means the heart has to pump harder and get stronger. Same goes for the lungs.
Who doesn’t want to be faster? If your into sports, it’s a given, speed kills. I mean look how much of a draft boost guys get when they have a good 40 time at the Combine.
Hell, the Raiders have built their entire franchise on this principle (after reading that, I guess it’s not the selling point I intended…oh, well you get the idea. Speed is important).
The added force of the sled and added weight recruits more muscle into the sprinting muscles which equals faster times on the field.
A big part of sticking with something is how much you enjoy it. Pushing the sled is a lot more fun than running for a half hour on a treadmill. Plus, even if you hate it, it will only take you a few minutes. A really long sled workout will go 20 mins tops.
If nothing else it makes you feel like a pro athlete and we know how I feel about that.
HOW DO YOU USE THIS THING?
There is 3 types of workouts with a sled; push, pull or drag. Now you might be asking what’s the difference between pull and drag.
Glad you asked
Pulling the sled involves you being in front of the sled and either pulling on the handles or a rope towards your body. Great workout for the quads if you lack definition or measurable strength.
Dragging the sled is when you’re in front of the sled and dragging it along like a dog in the Iditarod. Dragging and pushing abuse the same muscles, which is the posterior chain (hamstrings, lower back, glutes).
Now to move the sled, grab the sled handles so your upper body is parallel to the floor or lower. This will put you in the strongest position.
Drive your feet into the ground like your sprinting. Use short choppy steps rather than longer strides.
Don’t put one foot in front of the other like you are walking a tight rope. Keep your normal stride width...and go.
HOW MUCH WEIGHT SHOULD I ADD?
Now that’s not very helpful is it?
Like the bench press and deadlift, it’s all based on a percentage of how much you can move.
Before we go further, when I say “sprint” I realize you aren’t going to get up to your top speed. A sprint in the sled pushing world is where you are almost running with the sled in front of you.
If you are at a walking pace, that is not sprinting even though you might be going all out. Tough to put into words but when you do it, you’ll know the difference.
A good place to start is half your bodyweight for sprinting. If you can push the sled with relative ease and get up to a good speed add another 25lbs to the sled. Keep moving up in 25lb increments until you can’t sprint anymore. When you hit this point, we’ll call that you’re Sprint max.
If you struggle to get the sled moving or you can’t sprint at half bodyweight, then keep the weight as is. This is your Sprint max..
Now, for strength, it’s a little different. Keep adding weight until you can’t move the sled anymore. Once you hit that point, take off a plate and use that weight as your Strength Max.
Another thing that’s awesome about the sled is you can max out without the fear of killing yourself.
WORKOUT WITH A SLED
Programming for the sled is much like programming for any other exercise. Feel free to take what I give you or use your own creativity to concocted some vomit inducing workout.
Load up the sled with your Strength max and push the sled for 30 yards. Rest 2-3 minutes and repeat 5 times.
Load 80-90% of your Sprint max and push for 10 yards sprinting. Rest 3-5 minutes and repeat 10 times.
Go with 50% of your Sprint max and sprint for 30 yards. Rest 30-60 seconds and repeat 10 times. Keep a trashcan handy because your last meal might lose your lunch.
Sprinting Strength Pyramid Workout
Go with 50% of your Sprint max and sprint for 30 yards. Rest 30 seconds and add 60% of your Sprint max. Repeat. Keep repeating until you reach your Sprint max. After your Sprint max drop the weight to 90% and repeat until you hit 50% again. As the weight increases so should your rest periods, with the max rest period being 3 minutes.
Load 75% of your Sprint max and sprint 30 yards. Rest 30-60 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Load about 30% of your Strength max and push for time. Starting off go with 30 secs but eventually work up to 60 seconds of constant pushing. Rest the same amount of time you push and repeat 10 times.
BUT I DON’T HAVE A SLED
First of all, shame on your gym for robbing you of this workout goodness. Thankfully there is an alternative although not as awesome.
Putting the kettlebell on its side so the base of your hand is on the handle will work in a pinch. Go with heavy kettlebells so they stick to the ground more and you don’t go flipping over them. You can use one with two hands or one kettlebell per hand.
Well there you have it and there it is, how to workout with a sled.