“The sled is an excellent tool for high-intensity training without high impact,” Sanchez says. “Use it for conditioning, fat loss, strength development and muscle building.” Heavy sled training also can improve performance markers, specifically sprint speeds and mechanical effectiveness, according to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.
The most familiar sled is probably the Prowler — a platform with ski-like runners and vertical posts you can use to propel it forward. It also can be pulled by securing a rope or tow line around the base.
Technique — RPE (rate of perceived exertion)
Tracking your heart rate — either with a heart-rate monitor or by taking your pulse — allows you to continually adjust your workout intensity. However, the equation used to calculate your optimal training zone is far from perfect, and the traditional formula used to find your maximum heart rate (220 – your age) was found to underestimate MHR by as much as 40 beats per minute, especially in athletic people.
You’re welcome to do the math if you like, but a better way to train, especially if you’re more experienced, is intuitively by using the rate of perceived exertion. While it won’t pinpoint your exact intensity and output, it’s a solid way to self-assess how hard you are working — i.e., your “perceived exertion.” The idea is to work within the correct range based on your exercise goals. So for moderate cardio activity, you’d want to remain around 12 to 14, with harder sprints and other work bouts moving up from there. Higher intensities above 16 should only be maintained for a very short period, like a one-rep max or other quick burst of action.
10 Max Effort: Completely out of breath and unable to talk
9 Very Hard: Can barely breathe and can speak only a few words
7-8 Vigorous Activity: Short of breath; can speak a sentence
4-6 Moderate Activity: Breathing heavily but can hold a short conversation
2-3 Light Activity: Easy to breathe and carry a conversation
1 Very Light Activity: Hardly any exertion
Load a Prowler sled with a moderate weight and mark off a 30- to 50-meter distance. Sprint that length, pushing the sled all the way across the finish line, then stop, walk around and catch your breath. Your post-sprint RPE should be around an 8 or a 9. When it returns to a 5 or a 6, turn the sled around and repeat that sprint. Do four to six rounds.
Prowler Sled Push
Load a Prowler sled with weight and then place a hand on each upright, arms straight and shoulder blades packed. Lower your hips and steadily drive the sled forward by taking small, quick steps. The lighter the sled, the faster you can go. Push the sled for distance or time.