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Strength

Drag yourself out of the gym and into shape

Patrick Dale provides some examples of exercises using a weighted sledge

The weighted sled provides a number of training opportunities for developing many facets of fitness, from low level cardiovascular conditioning, when performing power walking, to anaerobic conditioning when performing sprints to muscular endurance, hypertrophy and strength work.

All you need is a good level surface (grass, tarmac or concrete work best) and up to about 60kg of free weights and you have sufficient resources to perform a sled workout regardless of your outcome goals.

weighted sledge

 

A commercially produced sled

Sleds can either be purchased from a strength product retailer or made very cheaply by a local metal worker, being nothing more complicated than a plate of metal with a weight holder in its centre and an upturned front end to prevent catching on debris. Non elastic straps can be obtained from climbing shops and as for a waist belt – just get your old weight training belt out of the cupboard and use that.

As with all exercise programs there is no single golden workout that will perform miracles. All workouts will be effective providing we adhere to our basic training principles of progressive overload, recovery, duration, specificity and frequency.

With that in mind, this article will provide you with some basic ideas and suggested exercises to get you started. With weighted sled dragging your only limit is your imagination, so think “out of the box” and see what ideas you can come up with yourself.

The Exercises

Both of these are great warm up exercises which are best performed utilizing light loads to prepare us mentally and physically for the work to come

Power Walk

Power walking backwards using straps Power walking forwards using straps
Power walking backwards using straps
Power walking forwards using straps

Sideways cross over walking with straps

Sideways cross over walking with straps

A great exercise for those individuals involved in activities requiring lateral movements e.g. squash, rugby or football. This can be done either with light resistance and included in your warm up, or with heavier loads to develop the adductors/abductor muscle complexes.

Bent over Walking

This is an awesome hamstring exercise which is guaranteed to work the posterior chain muscles in a very unusual way. Ensure you maintain neutral spine. This exercise also lends itself to either low or high resistance, depending on your requirements. Make sure you drive trough the heels for maximum effect!

Bent over Walking

Power walk forwards with chest fly

Power walk forwards with chest fly

Great for muscular endurance and true functional core strength

Power walk backwards with reverse fly

Power walk backwards with reverse fly

Power walk backwards with reverse fly

Work those retractors and horizontal extenders while getting a good lower body workout for free! Also requires core stabilization.

Side steps with cross body lateral raises/external rotations

Side steps with cross body lateral raises/external rotations

Side steps with cross body lateral raises/external rotations

Working the lateral core musculature, external shoulder rotators and medial deltoids, as well as hip adductors and abductors, this exercise provides and excellent adjunct to any racket players exercise routine

Power walk forwards with chest press

Power walk forwards with chest press

Power walk forwards with chest press

Power walk backwards with a row to chest

Power walk backwards with a row to chest

Power walk backwards with a row to chest

Power walk forwards with biceps curl

Power walk forwards with biceps curl

Power walk forwards with biceps curl

Great arm exercise requiring core stabilization – a functional biceps exercise no less

Power walk backwards with row to triceps kick back

Power walk backwards with row to triceps kick back

Power walk backwards with row to triceps kick back

Power walk backwards with row to triceps kick back

This exercise covers a multitude of muscle groups and is very effective regardless of the load applied.

Power walk forwards with front raises

Power walk forwards with front raises

Power walk forwards with front raises

Power walk forwards with straps over shoulders

Power walk forwards with straps over shoulders

Power walk forwards with straps over shoulders

A functional core exercise, which can be performed with straps over both shoulders to target rectus abdominis or one shoulder to challenge obliques.

Power walking

Power walking forwards with waist belt

Power walking backwards with waist belt

Power walking forwards with waist belt

Power walking backwards with waist belt

Walking forwards offers a unique challenge to the whole of the posterior chain, while walking backwards effectively works the quadriceps and hip flexors. The use of the belt permits greater loads to be utilized as core involvement is all but eliminated.

Sprinting with waist belt

Sprinting with waist belt

A truly excellent way of developing explosive posterior chain musculature, starting power, hypertrophy of the hamstrings and gluteals or just anaerobic conditioning, depending on the load applied. This can be used prior to regular sprinting to promote synaptic facilitation. By exposing the body to substantial loading, then removing the load and repeating the movement pattern, the body is fooled into recruiting more muscle fibers than necessary and basically promoting greater athletic performance.  In simple terms, you will run faster when the load is reduced for the second set.

Remember when sprinting to apply the 10% rule if you are concerned with altering technique too much e.g. only use 10% greater load in the exercise when compared to actual activity being trained for. Its fine to use loads that are greatly excessive of this, but the technique, when compared to its unloaded variation, will be quite different and increased strength and power may come at the cost of altered technique.

Conclusion

All of the exercises listed above have one thing in common – they are truly functional. Movement is occurring around numerous joints simultaneously and a harmonious use of body parts is required for successful performance of each exercise. In all strap exercises, the core is called upon to actively stabilize the mid section, and as all exercises are done in the standing position, demands on the central nervous system are substantial. Additionally, there is virtually no eccentric loading in most of the exercise which reduces the possibility of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and permits frequent training sessions. Many power lifters, Olympic lifters and field athletes use sled dragging as a recovery tool from heavy gym based workouts, as the light loads used can provide an easy session where waste products can effectively be removed and nutrient uptake in muscles improves due to the increased blood flow to the working muscles.

Sled training is of particular use to the following groups…

  • Sports people
  • Those looking to manage their weight
  • Those who dislike the gym environment
  • Anyone looking to improve cardiovascular and muscular fitness simultaneously
  • People with impact related lower limb injuries who are unable to run (power walking is an excellent alternative to running)
  • And anyone wishing to have a break from the normal run of the mill gym-based workouts and have fun when training!

Whilst the weather in the UK does not always provide a pleasant environment for out door training, even in England the sun sometimes shines, so get out doors and enjoy it…just wrap up warm!

Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • DALE, P. (2007) Drag yourself out of the gym and into shape. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 43/ June), p. 3-5

Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • DALE, P. (2007) Drag yourself out of the gym and into shape [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/scni43a2.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Patrick Dale has almost 15 years of fitness industry experience. He has a wide and varied sporting history, having participated at a high level in athletics, rugby, rock climbing, trampolining, triathlon, weightlifting and bodybuilding.

Associated Pages

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