Sled Work for Muscle and Speed!

Often left at your local football club, strongman gym or local sports team shed to gather dust, prowler sleds are the performance enhancing powerhouses of yesteryear!

Whether it’s to:

  • Aid in muscle recruitment and explosiveness,
  • Posterior chain firing,
  • Increasing fitness and athletic capacity, to
  • Torch fat, or
  • Build some decent lean mass,

 Sleds are an amazingly powerful tool in your conditioning arsenal.

Ways to Utilise the Sled:

As highlighted above, the sled truly does have a myriad of uses in your training program. The way it is implemented will largely determine which of these effects it will help illicit, and thus for the sake of this article, it is important we cover the different ways to implement the sled.

There are 3 main ways to approach sled training in your program.

TYPE 1: Hypertrophy and Active Recovery

This method entails using moderately heavy weight with a slow paced pushing and/or pulling movement up and down the track. These intense, heavy, slow grinding sets will really drive nutrient uptake into the working musculature and thus aid recovery to a certain extent as fresh nutrients are forced into the area. This will also enhance glucose disposal, deplete glycogen and lead to hypertrophy when volume is sufficient by tearing down the large muscle groups pushing and pulling the sleds. A great way to really build some lean tissue, increase insulin sensitivity and get blood flowing with fresh nutrients to aid in recovery.

TYPE 2: Fat Loss and Cardiovascular Fitness/Athletic Output/Build Explosiveness:

This approach to sled training uses light weight at very fast speeds in short bursts of 10-15 seconds, with short rest intervals. Think of them as weighted sprint training. Depending on the length of these rest intervals, high intensity Prowler sprints have a huge metabolic cost coupled with a high Post-Exercise calorie burn. Combining explosive output with extremely high volumes loaded through the leg musculature, this style of sled training will make for a VERY effective fat loss tool. A workout as as simple as 10seconds sprint, 45 seconds rest, repeat for 10 rounds can have a profound calorific expenditure, build explosive power, favourably impact on muscle insulin sensitivity, deplete glycogen and greatly tax the cardiovascular system. So if increased fat loss and fitness are your priority, try adding in Prowler sprints 2 to 3 times a week to your program and see how you fare!

TYPE 3: Strength, Hypertrophy and Building the Posterior Chain

If you are more about building meat on those wheels, strengthening the posterior chain with the added perks of increasing your dead lifts, squats and jumping movements, using an extremely heavy weight will be your first port of call. Load up the sled until you can basically just move at walking speed but under heavy strain. Be sure to build up to a heavy working weight over the sessions to avoid injury as well. I also recommend you treat this as a strength lift as well and so employ progressive overload over the weeks as well and be mindful of the form you use is being kept strict.

 A good workout would be to push the sled for a laboured 15m, then once at the end, attach a rope, and pull it back to the start. This will absolutely destroy your upper and lower body, involving nearly every fibre in your body in the process! 10 rounds of these pushes/pull with as much weight as you can safely handle will leave you sore for days at first, and greatly assist in Olympic lifts, deadlifts, squats and other posterior chain heavy lifts. It will build explosiveness and above all, muscle tissue!

Take Home on Sleds:

So after covering the 3 main methods of Sled training, it is up to you to pick a model that suits your goals that you can add 2-3 times a week to your training regimen. At first this will be a very high impact exercise and may hinder recovery from weights so ensure calories are kept in mind, following usual pre and post workout nutrition principles, sleep is minimum 8 hours a night and if need be, cut back on some leg training in the weights room as you are already hitting them now another 3 times a week.

So with that caveat covered, go throw some plates on a sled, hit the track and see if you don’t notice the progress difference in your fitness journey for your troubles!