One way to ensure you never leave a workout feeling that you haven’t put enough effort in is to use the sled push as a finisher. No matter what you’ve done beforehand, rattling off a few 25m pushes at the end or your training session will leave you absolutely wrecked – it’s a move that takes no prisoners.
We hope that hasn’t put you off, because it’s a move that’s undoubtedly worth doing to strengthen your lower body. All the major leg muscles work overtime, along with your glutes and core, as your drive the sled along, and they’re doing so in a functional manner that will benefit your performance in sports and make everyday movements easier.
The sled push also works well as a relatively low-impact cardio exercise, which is especially useful for runners. Pushing the sled along mimics the movement of running and challenges the same muscles without stressing the joints so much. It makes a great addition to a HIIT workout or your leg day strength session, and as mentioned above, as an all-out finisher it will floor you.
How To Do The Sled Push
Load up the sled with weight. It’s not easy to judge how much when you first try it, but you’ll soon know if you’ve loaded too much on, because you won’t be able to move it an inch. Remember, those first few inches from stationary are the hardest part. Once the sled gets going it’ll feel easier to move the weight.
Adopt a low position against the sled pushing either with straight or bent arms. The lower you get your body to the ground, the easier the pushing will be – unless you go all the way and lie down. As you move forwards make sure your core is braced and that you’re driving through your forefoot with each step and keeping your feet around hip-width apart.
If you’re looking to improve your power and get a good cardio workout, push the sled faster for longer; if strength gains are your primary aim, march along short distances using more weight. The distance you can push will depend a fair bit on the gym you’re in, especially in city centres where hopes of a 50m stretch to push along are thin, but you should be able to push 25m most of the time.
Sled Push Finisher
Grab a sled and stack up a pile of weight plates to the side of the track. If you can, get as many of the same weight as possible.
Set a four-minute timer and push the sled to the end of the track and back. Once you’re back to the start, add one plate to the sled as quickly as possible and then go up and down the track again. Keep adding weight before each lap until the time’s up.
By starting at a low weight and gradually increasing, you will tick off endurance, hypertrophy and building strength – if you stick with it for the full four minutes, that is. The result will be bigger muscles that will last longer.
And as well as being a great finisher for your leg muscles, this drill gets you working more or less non-stop and at a high energy demand, which means it should increase your heart rate to a fat-burning threshold.
Get the Coach Newsletter
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, reviews of the latest gear and more.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.