If you've spent any extended amount of time at S3, you know that we believe in the power of Sled Drags. We use it for both strength work, conditioning work, and as a recovery/cooldown tool.
But why? Why something as simple as loading some weight onto a piece of metal and dragging it for a certain distance or time?
Because they work. As Louie Simmons--owner of Westside Barbell--puts it...
“…One method that we use at Westside is using the pulling sled for the hips and glutes. We pull the sled with the strap attached to the back of our power belts. We walk with long, powerful strides, maintaining an upright body position, pulling through with the foot, which stresses the hamstrings and glutes. This is common practice for throwers overseas. I learned about pulling from Eskil Thomasson, who is Swedish. Before he moved to Columbus, he visited Finland to see why so many Finns deadlift so well. Many of these strong deadlifters were lumberjacks. They routinely had to pull paper wood down to the main trail, where the tractors could pick it up.”
Remember, we need to do three things when we train: we need to train consistently, we need to be in good enough aerobic/anaerobic base to reap the rewards of the training, and we need to train with resistance.
So, taking that knowledge and going forward. Here's why we choose sleds so often...
1.) They're a low skill movement. Low skill level means they have a lower barrier to entry, so you can get to training and don’t have to spend time making someone proficient at it before they can reap the benefits of the movement.
2.) Can be used to train both the aerobic and anaerobic systems, which is important. A solid aerobic base will allow athletes to recover faster between sessions and plays while a stronger anaerobic system allows us to maintain higher output in short bursts across time. A good balance of aerobic to anaerobic ability is vital for every day folks from something as simple as the ability to have more variety of physical activity that will feel accessible to you, all the way down to the fact that an under-developed aerobic base and an overly developed anaerobic system can lead to the development of anxiety and depression.
(Think about this, do you ever get stressed for seemingly no reason when your heart rate comes down after a hard HIIT or CrossFit workout? If you do, maybe look back at how often you're moving at not breakneck speed and how often you're doing low-level, low intensity training.)
3.) They're also a great way to load and strengthen the posterior chain without vertical loading the spine. Because of this, sleds have almost zero negative impact on the central nervous system. Sleds are a movement that can be utilized very, very often (remember what we said about consistency?).
4.) They can teach trainees how to actually USE their hamstrings and DRIVE through their feet and legs, which is just another way to help people learn how to properly use their body.
5.) They’re amazingly simple and accessible rehab/prehab.
6.) Sleds do ALL OF THE ABOVE at the exact same time.
So, what else do you want to know?
Come drag one!