Weight sleds (or power sleds, training sleds, or performance sleds, depending on the jargon at your gym) are exactly what they sound like – a sled for you to either push or pull. Training with a weight sled is relatively simple to learn, and the benefits of adding weight sled workouts into your training programme are significant.
You might be most familiar with weight sleds from television adverts featuring buff American football and rugby players performing drills with them. This has led many to wrongly assume that sleds are only for the fittest among us. The truth is that you don’t need to be an elite, top-level athlete to use a sled. You don’t even need to be a sports enthusiast.
Weight sled routines are useful for just about everyone, though they’re definitely top-spot stars for sprinters, runners, and athletes who want or need explosive leg power. But no matter your fitness goals, using a weight sled a few times a week will help you develop serious quads, a strong core, and can help you get shredded in the process. Let’s take a look at what this device is and the benefits of incorporating sled training into your programming.
Best Weight Sled: Quick Picks
- Ram Sports Power Sled and Harness Editor’s Choice
- Primal Strength Stealth Sled
- Jordan Fitness Performance Sled
- Mirafit M1 Weight Drag Sled
- ND Sports Speed Sled
Note: There’s a lot more information below but clicking the above links will take you to current prices, further information and customer reviews on Amazon or Best Gym Equipment.
What is a Weight Sled?
To use a sled, all you need is your body and a strong grip and a desire to do some serious endurance training. For push workouts you’ll need a sled mounted with push poles and we recommend using a quality chalk to ensure your hands have the traction they need. Pull workouts use a harness, as you’re literally pulling the sled behind you. Harnesses range from custom made to one-size-fits-all, but generally speaking, they’re made of a durable material like nylon and includes a way to strap it onto your body, so it stays in place.
What are the Benefits of a Weighted Sled and Why Do I Need One?
Sled workouts can be split into two categories: pushing and pulling. Both help develop serious strength in your glutes, hamstrings, calves, quad, and core. No matter if you’re pulling it or pushing it, using a weight sled will also help improve your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. In this way, the workout is going to feel a lot like a power rope workout – it’s going to burn so good, and the minutes will definitely feel like hours, but the aftereffects are full of serious feelings of accomplishment.
One of the most significant benefits of weight training sleds are they it give you the ability to be flexible. Because you’re the one determining the weight that you push or pull, you can decide the exercise’s difficulty. Of course, it’s highly recommended that you use a lighter load than you think you might need when you’re just starting out. And, depending on the turf where you’re working, you should factor in some resistance. Traditional grass and turf pitches work great for sleds, but if you’re pushing and pulling inside a gym on a concrete floor, you might have more resistance than you anticipated.
What Muscles Do They Work?
As you might expect, sleds work your legs – glutes, calves, hamstrings, and quads will all get a serious workout from a push-pull workout. It’s not just lower body exercises – you’ll also work to strengthen your core, and your upper body will get a workout too.
Your grip will be challenged in addition to these great benefits, and your forearms will light up, since pushing a sled isn’t easy.
An Example Workout
Each of these workouts will test you in different ways. All can be scaled for the beginner sled user or someone who’s been using a weight sled for a while.
Sled Pull Workout – Harness Required
100-meter sled pull: stand tall and pull the sled. If you’re really up for a challenge, try running with it.
100-meter bear crawl: crawl on your hands and knees while maintaining a neutral spine.
Perform three sets of the circuit, resting when needed.
Sled Push Workout – No Harness Required
This workout will challenge your core, shoulders, and of course, your legs.
Set up your sled on a flat surface that’s at least 25 metres long. Grab the top handles, keep your spine neutral, and bend over, so your arms are straight in front of you. Push the sled.
Remember that the faster you push it, the harder the workout will be. Once you reach the end of your pitch, turn the sled around and go back to the starting point.
That’s one rep.
Aim for five if you’re new to sleds and ten if you’re seasoned.
Sleds come in several different designs, with the most common being either a four-post, modular, or triangular sled. Each offers a similar experience with respect to overall training capacity. They differ in shape, size, and design.
Modular sleds are often designed to best mimic American football training. Often, modular sleds have three horizontal tiers of pushing handles to allow the athlete to work on pushing movements on different levels. If you’ve read our article on functional training, you know that working in various planes of motion is critical to overall athletic performance. For this reason, modular sleds are excellent choices if you’re a serious athlete that wants to develop explosive power.
Triangular sleds have three posts and offer both vertical upright hand positions and low horizontal options as well. Attachment points can be added onto the frame to allow for hand straps, waist belts, or shoulder harnesses to convert the sled into a pulling device.
Four-post sleds are the most common type of sled on the market. There are two vertical posts on opposite ends so the device can be pushed or pulled from either side. A centre weight post can be loaded with plates to make pushing and pulling more difficult. Eyelets are usually found on either side to allow the sled to be used with either a harness or ropes.
Single platform sleds are useful for pulling workouts but aren’t sleds in the traditional sense. They offer you a bit of instruction on how to incorporate sled work into your training approach, but since they don’t come with handrails, it’s likely you’re only going to ever use them to pull. That said, they’re generally compact and take up far less room than standard sleds, which makes them a good choice if you’re worried about space.
Depending on your training goals, each of these sleds will offer you a way to get one step closer to where you want to be. However, unless you’re an elite athlete, a modular power sled might be a little too much sled. For the average user, triangular sleds are excellent choices because they offer various handgrip placements. Four post sleds are definitely the most common and have the most versatility. When choosing your sled, consider whether or not you want to wear a harness with it and if you’re interested in attaching a rope to eyelets. Both of these choices are available on four-post sleds.
A Detailed Look at the Best Weight Sleds
Editor’s Choice: Ram Sports Power Sled and Harness
Made from wielded steel that’s strong enough to be used on any surface, this three-point sled is ideal for all of your workouts. Customise your session by adding plates to the two push poles.
We love the durability of this three-point sled. Its solid steel construction and simple design means that it’s going to be around for a long time. It works especially well on grass, which isn’t always the case with three point sleds.
- Heavy duty construction
- Has eyelets for ropes or a harness
- Two different grip heights for push work
- Designed for olympic weight plates only
The training options that the Ram Sports Weight Sled add to your training and routine means that you’re never going to be bored. We absolutely love the solid look and feel of this push-pull weight sled. We love the fact that this has multiple harness attachments, which makes it even more versatile.
The Primal Strength Stealth Sled gives you both pushing and pulling options as well as a three-point design. Challenge yourself intense leg workouts that also give you a serious cardio burn. Develop hip, core, and back strength when you add in sled training to your programming.
- Oversized foot plates help prevent damage
- Max weight for the sled is 300 kg
- Harness isn’t super comfortable for extended periods of time
With a hefty max user weight of 300 kg, this sled really can give you a full body workout all from one machine. The three point design makes it ideal for both push and pull exercises, so your workouts will always be varied. We would have liked to see a more comfortable harness design, but that’s easily rectified by using a different one.
This single-platform sled is unconventional in its design, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own unique benefits. Ideally suited for pulling workouts, the Jordan Fitness sled will definitely challenge your aerobic capacity and help develop some serious conditioning.
- Load capacity is 140 kg, so there’s plenty of room to develop your pulling skills
- Made from solid steel
- Single platform means this isn’t ergonomically comfortable to use as a push sled
- Tower for weights is very short, so you’ll need heavy kg plates to ever get to capacity
This is an interesting approach on the sled design, and might be useful if you know you’re only going to want to pull your sled and never push it. While Jordan says that you can use it for pushing, the horizontal bracing is so low that it becomes very uncomfortable to use for an extended period of time.
This Mirafit Weight Drag sled and harness is basic but serves its purpose. Load up your plates, strap on your harness, and get to work. We appreciate the curved edge on the platform, which helps protect your plates.
- 100kg weight threshold
- Ropes can be attached at the eyelet for additional functions
- Harness isn’t very comfortable and digs into shoulders
Like other single-platform sleds, this is best suited for pulling exercises. The benefit here is that as a pull sled, it doesn’t take up much room. So if you’re short on space but really want to explore sled training, this might be the ideal place to start.
This single platform sled is great for pulling work and drag-training, The addition of ropes makes it perfect for battle rope sessions, too. The small footprint means it’s well suited for small spaces, making this a great choice if you’re short on room.
- Made from cast iron, so it’s very durable
- Harness isn’t comfortable with any significant weight
- Olympic plates move around and the shift in weight can feel awkward
As a single-platform sled, this is excellent for speed drills and sprint training. It’s not going to be useful for any pushing exercises, since it doesn’t come with handrails. However, for the price point, this is a great purchase for anyone interested in adding to a home gym.
From strongman competitions to the football field, weighted sled training is one of the most functional training approaches around. While it might look easy at the outset – pushing or pulling a sled, the reality is that when done correctly, a training sled can develop your overall conditioning, improve your athletic performance, and help you get lean, too.
Sled training is simple but effective, overall safe, and very easy to learn. It can be done indoors or out and is truly a whole body experience. If you’re tired of conventional bodybuilding routines and want to try your hand at more functional training, adding in sled work might just be the perfect solution.
Remember when you’re buying a sled to consider where you want to be with your goals, not where you are now. Make sure it has a maximum weight capacity that’s suitable for you and ensure that the material it’s made from is built to last.