Women's Health

5 ways to train with a sled


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If you train at a gym that has embraced functional training, you (hopefully) have a dedicated area for sleds – that is, the device with the skis down, somewhere to stack the weights on top and sticks to grab.

If so, you’ve surely seen the most common use of the sled, as someone grunts and groans as they lower themselves and push them onto the ground with the power of their motor legs and bottom of his body.

Great exercise? Absolutely! However, you can reap a lot more benefits from sledding than you might think. “Sledding training can be a very effective form of training for everyone, from the competitive athlete to the average sportsman,” says Sean Ruff, NASM-PES, personal trainer and physical education teacher based in San Jose, Calif. (Instagram @officialseanruff). “It can be used to increase athletic performance, improve conditioning, burn fat and build muscle.”

Here, Ruff shares five favorite variations to put your snowmobiling skills to the test.

1. Pull the sled forward

This exercise reverses the classic luge “push” and turns it into a “pull”.

“It improves functional strength, performance, and speed for the whole body,” says Ruff.

To do this, you will attach yourself to the sled with the harness that comes with it – they are designed with a long strap to click onto the sled, with a padded waist belt and shoulder harness that usually attach via Velcro or snap-on connectors . (See an example by click here.)

You will be facing the sled, adopting a low ready position with your hips low, knees bent and hands on the ground for balance. From there, you’ll lean forward and drive with your legs, planting your feet powerfully with every step while engaging your quads, hamstrings, and glutes to glide the sled forward, adjusting your pace to suit your goals – slower for beginners, of course, but faster if you’re more advanced and looking to increase your speed and fitness.

2. Slide the reverse sled

For this variation, you’ll be in the harness again, but instead of backing away from the sled as you drag it, you’ll face the sled and backpedal to move it on the ground. “This is a fantastic exercise for the posterior chain, with a particular focus on the glutes and hamstrings,” says Ruff, as these muscles engage the most when you’re in a rear-facing position while pulling the sled. As with the forward pull, you can increase the intensity by adding weight and/or increasing your coaster speed – to focus on the latter goal, have time observing your sets and track those results, with the goal of resetting your personal best efforts over weeks and months.

3. Row of sleds

It’s actually a two-step move, increasing the involvement of your back, biceps, and core — “it effectively targets the entire back half of your body,” Ruff points out.

You won’t need the harness for this one but will use the poles instead. Facing the sled, you’ll drop into a quarter squat or full squat position (thighs parallel to the floor) and grab a stick in each hand so your arms are straight. First, you’ll do a row, pulling the sled towards you by bending your arms and engaging your back and mid-back muscles. Then you’ll step back so your arms are straight again to prepare for the next pull-up. Keep repeating this sequence on the floor.

4. Side drag of the sled

You will again need the harness for the side drag of the sled, where you pull the sled across the ground from a side position using a cross step. “Like other pulling sled moves, this exercise still challenges the posterior chain and really brings the abductors and adductors into the mix,” Ruff explains.

With the harness over your upper body and the long strap attached to the sled, you will stand sideways, adopting an athletic “ready” position – knees bent, hips low, upper body straight with your trunk flexed for stability. “The action feels like a sideways shuffle, with the leg closest to the sled — your trail leg — crossing over the lead leg,” Ruff explains. “Continue this pattern, crossing one leg over the other as you pull the sled across the ground, then switch positions to face the opposite on the return trip.”

5. Sled Towing + Battle Rope Slams

Here you will incorporate some additional plyometrics into your set by incorporating a battle rope. “It’s a more complex exercise than the previous four that really engages the whole body, but especially the arms, abs, shoulders and back,” says Ruff.

To prepare the ground, tie a battle rope around the middle of the sled where the weight is stacked, then fully extend the ropes away from the sled. You’ll start by doing the battle rope exercise: assume an athletic “ready” position, with soft knees, low hips, tight core, and straight arms while grasping one end of the rope in each hand with an overhand grip. , thumbs forward. From there, start by raising one arm up to shoulder level and then down raising the other hand. Develop a rhythm, alternating one arm going up quickly while the other goes down, increasing the speed as you go. You can do a set number of snaps (like 30 snaps from the rope to the ground) or for a set amount of time, like 30 seconds.

Immediately afterwards – or after a brief rest, depending on your fitness level – you bring the sled towards you from a quarter squat or full squat position by bringing both sides of the battle rope together and pulling the hand over the hand until the sled is at your feet.


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