10 Sled Exercises That Train Your Entire Body

Man pushing prowler
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The sled is a multi-purpose workout tool that really works. Not only can you use it to torch major calories, the exercises you’ll do with it also help you get better in your other athletic endeavors. It’s a great conditioning workout that’ll help you perfect your running mechanics and improve your agility in sports like soccer and football, for example.

“The sled is fantastic for low-impact power development, as well as cardiovascular training that can be safely and effectively used by everyone from beginner to advanced trainee,” says Mike Krajewski, P.T., C.S.C.S., owner of MK Fitness in Nashville, TN.

Krajewski’s provided 10 super-effective moves, plus a workout finisher, and a full sled workout to implement into your regimen as you see fit. Make sure long straps are connected to your sled in order to get the most out of the exercises that require them.

Forward drag

How to do it: Attatch upper-body straps that have handle or loop attachments for your hands to the sled. Stand facing away with the sled positioned behind you. Pull the straps taut over your shoulders or under your armpits. Lean forward and stay low as you drive your legs and propel forward through your hips and legs.

Expert tip: “If you stay on your toes, you recruit much more of your quadriceps,” Krajewski says. “If hamstring and glute development is your goal, then reach your arms and hands forward and plant your heel first while ‘pulling’ yourself forward with your heels.”  

Prescription: 2-4 sets x 15-25 meters 

Backward drag

How to do it: Attach upper-body straps to the sled. Facing the sled, pull the straps taut so your arms are straight. Get low, and simply walk backwards taking long, controlled steps. 

Expert tip: “As you perform the movement, you want to ‘reach’ back with your lead leg, plant the ball of your foot, and drive,” Krajewski says. “You’ll greatly recruit your quadriceps muscles.”

Prescription: 2-4 sets x 15-25 meters

Sled push

How to do it: With no straps, stand behind the sled with your arms straight and flexed, maintaining a forward body lean. Drive the sled forward using slow, controlled steps.

Expert tip: “If your goal is cardio-based, you can remove some of the load of the sled and push for speed,” Krajewski says. “If your goal is strength, add more of a load in order to tax the muscles anaerobically by pushing for shorter distances.”

Prescription: 2-4 sets x 10-30 meters

Sled row

How to do it: Facing the sled, pull the straps taut with straight arms. Slightly bend your knees and maintain a straight spine as you pull the straps in a row movement (similar to how you would on a low-cable row machine). Once you complete a row, move back a few steps until the straps are taut and row again.  

Expert tip: “If power is your goal, then pull with an explosive movement for fewer reps,” Krajewski says. “If strength is your goal, then pull slower and for more reps.”

Prescription: 3-4 sets x 10-15  

Forward stiff-leg hamstring walks

How to do it: Facing away from the sled with the straps pulled taut over your shoulders, drag the sled by walking with stiff, locked legs. 

Expert tip: Imagine walking like Frankenstein. “Land each step heel-first in order to pull yourself forward and emphasize hamstring recruitment,” Krajewski says.

Prescription: 2-4 sets x 15-25 meters

Seated one-arm row pulls

How to do it: Sit facing the sled with both straps together in one hand. Reach forward and pull the sled toward you, moving your hands, one in front of the other, as many times it takes until the sled is at your feet.

Expert tip: This is similar to the sled row. “If power is your goal, then pull with an explosive movement for fewer reps,” Krajewski says. “If strength is your goal, then pull slower and for more reps.” 

Prescription: 3-4 sets x 10-15 each arm

Straight-arm pull-through

How to do it: Face away from the sled with the straps taut between your legs. Your arms should be relatively straight. Position your body similar to the bottom of a deadlift or the bottom of a kettlebell swing. With an explosive motion, drive your hips forward as you simultaneously extend your knees and finish up on the balls of your feet.  

Expert tip: “Do not pull with your arms,” Krajewski warns. “This will eliminate the power component of the exercise, and activate your shoulders unsafely.” Make sure this is primarily a hip extension movement.

Prescription: 2-5 sets x 5-15  

Sled chest press

How to do it: Stand facing away from the sled with the straps in either hand at your sides. “Begin with a staggered stance in order to create better stability, which will allow you to press more weight on the sled,” Krajewski says. Press the straps on a slightly upward angle, mimicking an incline dumbbell chest press. Reset to the starting position and repeat.

Prescription: 3-4 sets x 10-15

Bicep curl sled pulls

How to do it: Stand facing the sled, holding straps with a supinated grip so your palms are facing one another, and your arms are straight out and parallel to the ground. “Keeping the upper arm parallel to the ground, curl the straps toward you by activating your biceps,” Krajewski says.  

Prescription: 3-4 sets x 10-20  

Y-raise sled pulls

How to do it: Stand facing the sled with the straps pulled taut, keeping a very slight bend in your knees and hips. Begin with your arms straight at hip level, then pull the sled by raising your arms completely overhead to finish—as if your body is making a big Y.

Expert tip: “Your arms must remain straight and locked in order to adequately recruit rear delts and traps,” Krajewski says. Use light weight, if any, on the sled.  

Prescription: 2-4 sets x 6-12

Full sled workout

Directions: Use the instructions and tips for the above exercises in the workout below.

A1. Sled row x15
    – rest 15s-
A2. Sled chest press x15
    -rest 15s-
A3.  Sled push x30 meters
    -rest 15s- 
repeat for another 30m, then rest 60s
*Complete 3 total sets. Then, move on to section B.

B1. Straight-arm pull-through (for power) x 6
    -rest 20-30s-
B2. Bicep curl sled pulls x15
    -rest 20-30s–
B3. Y-raise sled pulls x10
    -rest 30-45s- 
*Complete 3 total sets. Then, move on to section C.

C1. Sled pushes  

15m x2 – rest 15s
20m x2 – rest 15s
25m x2 – rest 15s
30m x2 – rest 15s
30m x2 – rest 30s
25m x2 – rest 30s
20m x2 – rest 30s
15m x2 
*Complete 1 round. Note: 15m x2 means push the sled 15m, turn around, and push it back 15m to the beginning.

Sled workout finisher

Directions: Use this finisher at the end of any strength workout.

– For a beginner, use a load of 30-60% of your bodyweight, and set up cones at 0- and 15-meter markers. Push the sled to the 15m marker turn, and go back to the starting line. Repeat 10 total 15-meter sprints for the best time possible. 
– For an intermediate-advanced trainee, apply 100% of your bodyweight as a load to the sled, and perform same protocol for best time. Krajewski’s best was 1:38. Try to beat him.

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