3 Ways to Use Sleds for Speed Training

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Every time we break out the sleds, the moans and groans are surely to follow.

All of our athletes and adults have been through some kind of conditioning with the sleds. This can obviously be really hard. Some people find it to be fun but some people are also crazy.

Weight sleds have a lot of different uses.

1. Sleds for Conditioning

This is the one that everyone remembers. Pushing the sled is a self limiting exercise. The sled and weight either move or they don’t. There is no cheating or faking it.

Using a combination of longer pushes with shorter rest periods is how we turn this into a great conditioning tool.

2. Sleds for Strength

Sleds can also be used for strength. There should be lower reps/less time and a longer rest period. This will also utilize heavier weights.

This is a great option for working around injuries or with young athletes. Sometimes young kids are just too immature to work on strength patterns. They cannot fake or cheat pushing the sled so it will help their strength development.

Pushing the sled also reduces axial loading which can help us work around a temporary injury.

3. Sleds for Speed

Sleds can be used to improve speed as well. We need lower weights, high speed, and long rest periods. A lot of times sled drills get turned into conditioning even if they are supposed to be for speed.

There are 3 types of drills that I particularly like when it comes to sled training. All 3 of them require the sled to be pulled from behind.

Resisted Bounds

Performing continuous bounds is a great way to train trail leg extension. When we sprint, the back leg should fully extend at the knee and hip. This helps propel you in a sprint.

Many athlete lack trail leg extension, but resisted bounds forces it. It becomes very difficult to move down the turf without pushing the ground away. I use this drill with anyway that needs more length in their stride but doesn’t quite know how to get there yet.

Resisted Sprint

We can also do a pure sprint with resistance. To keep good sprinting mechanics do not exceed 20% of your body weight being pulled.

The resistance allows for good knee drive and trail leg extension. It becomes very difficult to overcome the weight without those two qualities. It also forces a little bit of core stability and stiffness.

Post Activation Potentiation 

PAP is a phenomenon of increased power production. This is something we utilize in our complex training in the weight room. The method is done by using a heavy resistance immediately followed by a powerful movement. Power production is raised quickly after the heavier resistance.

By running with a sled that is somewhat heavier- 40% of your body weight- we get the PAP benefits.

The goal is to continue running with good technique. Pure technique work is done with a lighter weight but the goal with this is pure power production. We are trying to get out athletes to sprint faster than they would have without the sled.