Sledding Your Way to Better Fitness–Part 2
Sled March and Sprints
Sleds have become an increasingly popular tool in the fitness world over the last decade. No longer reserved for the football team, more and more individuals are finding the value of weighted sleds for a variety of fitness goals. Louis Simmons started using them at his powerlifting gym Westside Barbell in Ohio as a means of active recovery and to build overall work capacity in the 90’s. Since that time, you’d be hard pressed to find a decent gym that doesn’t have a space where you can work with a sled. At Fenton Fitness, we’ve been using them with our athletes, general fitness population, and geriatric population for the last eight years. Sleds are great for a variety of reasons. While they can be one of the most challenging activities you do, there is less technique involved than most other free weight resistance training activities. The range of motion is not very extreme, and there is little eccentric loading which greatly reduces the amount of muscle soreness the day(s) after using this implement. Because of the friction while using the sled, the jarring impact on your body is greatly reduced as well. You can use a sled to train virtually every part of your body. You can use the sled as a power developer, strength developer, conditioning tool, or recovery tool depending on how your program it or load it. The only thing the sled probably falls short on is hypertrophy since it lacks any significant eccentric loading and typically doesn’t have a huge range of motion. This series will cover some of our favorite sled exercises.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1
Sled March and Sprints
For our athletic populations or for individuals who want more of a challenge without loading more weight on the sled, marches and sprints are a natural progression from basic pushes/drags. For marching, we assume the same grip as for pushes, however, we want to lean forward as far as possible, trying to get our shoulders in line with our hands. We still push the ground away from us, but also want to focus on getting the non-driving leg into maximal hip flexion while maintaining low back positioning. We want to see deep flexion at the hip, knee, and ankle on one side while simultaneously seeing extension of the hip, knee, and ankle on the working side. Marches can be done pushing from behind or pulling from in front of the sled with the aid of a drag strap and harness. Once the march looks good and clean, we can progress to sprints by simply decreasing the load and increasing speed. For marches, most individuals can start with 50-80% of their body weight for 20-30 yards. With sprinting, we will start around 20-50% of body weight for 15-20 yards.
View video of the sled march and sprints here