Have you ever seen people at the gym dragging a heavy sled behind them? Or maybe you’ve seen videos of athletes or strongmen pulling cars, trucks, or even planes with a harness. If you have, you might have wondered what the benefits of sled pull training are and how you can incorporate it into your own routine.
Sled pulling workouts are incredibly versatile and effective, for enhancing fitness, performance and physique. They offer benefits such as boosting strength, power and speed in the lower body improving endurance, conditioning and mental resilience. Additionally sled pull training aids in burning, muscle development and injury prevention.
What exactly does sled pull training entail? How should it be performed correctly? In this article I will address these queries comprehensively. I will explain the fundamentals of pull training, provide guidance on execution techniques, highlight the targeted muscle groups involved, discuss its advantages and applications, for different goals as well as suggest variations to experiment with.
By the time you finish reading this article you'll have a grasp of pull training and how to maximize its potential to elevate your fitness journey. Let's dive in!
What is Sled Pull Training?
Sled pulling training is a type of resistance workout that involves dragging a weighted sled using a rope, strap or harness. The sled can be loaded with plates, sandbags or other heavy items. Different types of sleds like prowler sleds, tire sleds or homemade versions can also be used.
Sled pull training can be performed on surfaces, like grass, turf, concrete or asphalt to ensure smooth sliding of the sled. The distance and speed of the pull can be adjusted based on desired goals and workout intensity.
Sled pull training can be done in different ways and directions. For example, you can pull the sled:
- Backward: This is the most common way to do sled pull training. You attach the rope or strap to the sled and hold it with your hands or wear it around your waist or shoulders. You walk or run backward while pulling the sled behind you. This works mainly your posterior chain muscles (hamstrings, glutes, lower back) and your core.
- Forward: This is another way to do sled pull training. You attach the rope or strap to the sled and hold it with your hands or wear it around your waist or shoulders. You walk or run forward while pulling the sled in front of you. This works mainly your anterior chain muscles (quads, hip flexors, abs) and your arms.
- Sideways: This is a less common way to do sled pull training. You attach the rope or strap to the side of the sled and hold it with one hand or wear it around one shoulder. You walk or run sideways while pulling the sled next to you. This works mainly your lateral chain muscles (adductors, abductors, obliques) and your core.
- Overhead: This is an advanced way to do sled pull training. You attach the rope or strap to the top of the sled and hold it with both hands over your head. You walk or run forward while pulling the sled above you. This works mainly your upper body muscles (shoulders, traps, upper back) and your core.
These are just some examples of how you can do sled pull training. You can also mix and match different directions and attachments to create more variety and challenge for your workouts.
How to Do Sled Pull Training
Sled pull training is not complicated to perform, but it does require some technique and safety precautions. Here are some general steps on how to do sled pull training:
- Choose a suitable surface for your sled pull training. Ideally it would be best to have an even surface that lets the sled glide effortlessly without any unnecessary resistance or things, in the way. Additionally, having room to move around freely without running into others or objects is important.
- Choose a suitable weight for your sled pull training. The sled's weight should be determined based on your goals, experience level and fitness. It is generally advised to begin with a weight and progressively increase it as you become stronger and more at ease, with the exercise.
- Choose a suitable attachment for your sled pull training. The sled attachment must be robust and pleasant to wear or grasp. You can connect to the sled using a rope, strap, harness, or other device.
- Choose a suitable distance and speed for your sled pull training. The ideal distance and speed for pulling the sled should be determined based on your goals, level of experience and overall fitness. As a guideline it is recommended to begin with a shorter distance of around 10-20 meters and a moderate pace such as walking or jogging. You can progressively increase both the distance and speed as you become physically fit and comfortable, with the exercise.
- Warm up properly before your sled pull training. You should do some dynamic stretches and mobility drills to prepare your joints and muscles for the exercise. You should also do some light sled pulls to get used to the movement and the weight of the sled.
- Perform your sled pull training with good form and intensity. You should maintain a good posture and alignment throughout the exercise. You should keep your chest up, your shoulders back, your core tight, and your eyes forward. You should also pull the sled with a smooth and steady motion, avoiding jerky or erratic movements. You should pull the sled with enough force and speed to challenge yourself, but not so much that you compromise your form or safety.
- Rest and recover between your sled pull training sets. You should rest for enough time to catch your breath and lower your heart rate before doing another set. You should also drink water and stay hydrated during your workout. You should also cool down properly after your sled pull training. You should do some static stretches and foam rolling to relax your muscles and prevent soreness.
These are some general guidelines on how to do sled pull training. You can adjust them according to your specific needs and preferences.
What Muscles Does Sled Pull Training Work?
Sled pull training is a full-body exercise that works multiple muscle groups at once. However, some muscles are more involved than others depending on the direction and attachment of the sled pull.
Here are some of the main muscles that sled pull training works:
- Backward Sled Pull: This workout is designed to target the muscles in your back, hamstrings, glutes and calves. These muscles play a role in extending your hips, knees and ankles while also providing stability to your spine and pelvis. They are vital for activities such, as running, jumping and lifting objects.
- Forward Sled Pull: This workout emphasizes your quads, hip flexors, abdominals, and arms in the front. These muscles bend hips, knees, and elbows and stabilize the core and back. They are also needed for running, climbing, and throwing.
- Sideways Sled Pull: This exercise primarily targets the muscles on the sides of your body, such as the ones that bring your legs together or move them apart. It also engages the muscles that help rotate and stabilize your torso and pelvis. These muscles play a role in changing directions, maintaining balance and reducing the risk of injury.
- Overhead Sled Pull: This exercise primarily targets the muscles in your body, such as your shoulders, trapezius, upper back and arms. These muscle groups are involved in lifting your arms above your head and pulling objects closer to you. They also play a role in overhead pressing, pull ups and carrying items.
As seen, sled pull exercise can target muscles across your body depending on your technique. This makes it a great workout for strength, power, and endurance.
What Are the Benefits of Sled Pull Training?
Sled pull training offers many benefits for your fitness, performance, and physique. Here are some of the main benefits of sled pull training:
- It improves your strength and power in multiple planes of motion. Sled pull exercise builds strength and power in all directions and angles. This can boost multi-directional force production movements and activities.
- It improves your conditioning and endurance without compromising your muscle mass. Sled pull training burns calories and fat while building muscle. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) like sled pull training improves body composition more than steady-state exercise.
- It improves your acceleration and speed by enhancing your force application and stride length. Sled pull exercise increases ground force with each step, improving acceleration and speed. It can also enhance stride length by increasing hip range of motion.
- It improves your stability and balance by strengthening your core and stabilizer muscles. Sled pull training activates and strengthens your core and stabilizer muscles, which support and govern your spine, pelvis, and limbs, improving stability and balance. These muscles are necessary for optimal posture, alignment, and fall prevention.
- It improves your mental toughness and resilience by challenging your willpower and pain tolerance. High physical and emotional stress from sled pull exercise can boost mental toughness and resilience. This can help you conquer life's challenges.
These are some of the main benefits of sled pull training. As you can see, sled pull training can improve your fitness, performance, and physique in many ways.
How to Program Sled Pull Training for Different Goals
Sled pull training can be programmed for different goals depending on the variables that you manipulate. These variables include:
- Weight: The weight of the sled determines its pulling resistance. Heavy weights develop strength and power, whereas smaller weights develop speed and endurance.
- Distance: The effort duration depends on the sled pull distance. A greater distance develops endurance and conditioning, while a shorter distance develops strength and power.
- Speed:The sled pull speed determines its movement speed. Faster speeds develop power and explosiveness, whereas slower speeds create strength and hypertrophy.
- Rest: The rest between sets or intervals determines how much recovery you have before doing another sled pull. A shorter rest means more metabolic stress and fat burning, while a longer rest means more mechanical tension and muscle building.
By adjusting these variables, you can program sled pull training for different goals, such as:
- Strength: To develop strength opt for a load ( 70-90% of your body weight) , cover a shorter distance (approximately 10-20 meters) , maintain a relaxed pace (such as walking or jogging) and take longer breaks (2-3 minutes) between each session. Aim for 3 5 sets of 1-3 repetitions, per muscle group or movement direction.
- Power: To enhance your strength you should use an amount of weight 50-70% of your bodyweight. Keep the distance short between 10-20 meters. Move at a quick pace either sprinting or jogging. Take a break of 2-3 minutes, between each set. Aim to complete 3 5 sets with 3 5 repetitions, in each direction or attachment.
- Endurance: To build up your endurance try using a weight ( 30-50% of your bodyweight) covering a longer distance (about 20-40 meters) maintaining a moderate speed, like jogging or running and taking short breaks of around 30-60 seconds between sets. Aim for 3 5 sets with 6 10 repetitions, in each direction or attachment.
- Fat Loss: To decrease fat use a weight (around 30-50% of your body weight) to cover a longer distance (approximately 20-40 meters) , maintain a quick pace (sprinting or running) and take short breaks (about 30-60 seconds), between each interval. Aim for 10-20 intervals lasting, between 15 to 30 seconds in each direction or attachment.
Here are several ways to program sled pull training for different purposes. Your demands and preferences can be modified.
What Are Some Variations of Sled Pull Training?
Sled pull training can be varied in many ways to create more diversity and challenge for your workouts. Here are some variations of sled pull training that you can try:
- Sled Drag: This variation involves dragging the sled instead of pulling it. You attach the rope or strap to the back of the sled and hold it with your hands or wear it around your waist or shoulders. You walk or run forward while dragging the sled behind you. This works mainly your posterior chain muscles and your grip strength.
- Sled Push: This variation involves pushing the sled instead of pulling it. You place your hands on the front of the sled and lean forward with your body. You walk or run forward while pushing the sled in front of you. This works mainly your anterior chain muscles and your chest.
- Sled Row: This variation involves rowing the sled instead of pulling it. You attach the rope or strap to the front of the sled and hold it with both hands in front of you. You walk or run backward while rowing the sled towards you with each step. This works mainly your upper back muscles and your biceps.
- Sled Curl: This variation involves curling the sled instead of pulling it. You attach the rope or strap to the front of the sled and hold it with both hands at waist level. You walk or run backward while curling the sled towards you with each step. This works mainly your biceps muscles and your forearms.
These are some variations of sled pull training that you can try. You can also combine different variations to create more complex and challenging workouts.
Sled pulling workouts are a way to enhance your overall fitness, performance and physique. They offer a range of benefits such as boosting strength, power and endurance in your body as well as improving conditioning, stability and mental resilience. Additionally sled pull training aids in burning, muscle building and injury prevention.
There are ways to incorporate sled pull training into your routine based on specific muscle groups and desired goals. You can also adjust factors like weight, distance, speed and rest intervals according to your preferences.
Engaging in sled pull training adds excitement and challenge to your workout regimen while elevating your fitness level. All you need is a sled along with a rope or strap and some open space to perform the exercises.