When you see a Strongman pulling that giant 18-wheeler, do you think that he has one casually lying around in his backyard? One or two might, but the vast majority of serious Strongman competitors have to rely on down-sized equipment that allows for versatility. This is where the sled drag comes in.
The sled drag is a classic Strongman exercise that can be changed from a pushing to a pulling movement in order to develop incredible levels of raw power, strength, and speed. Let’s take a look at the benefits of this famous staple of Strongman workouts followed by instructions on how to do a sled drag.
BENEFITS OF THE SLED DRAG
Ready to learn how to do a sled drag? Not so fast. Before we provide you with a step-by-step breakdown of the exercise, we want you to know about the benefits of the exercise and how it can easily fit into any Strongman workout.
Variety of the Exercise: There are a few forms of the sled drag. Owing one sled gives you the chance to alter the direction of force, turning it into either a pulling or pushing movement. Weight can easily be adjusted, and depending on the type of sled you buy, you can focus on a speed training sled drag or a power training sled drag.
Accessible: When weight is adjusted, almost everyone can perform a sled drag as its low impact and provide a base of support so there’s no worry of falling over.
Total Body: The sled drag promotes development in strength, muscle growth, conditioning, and power for your entire body, making it an ideal total body exercise. It targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, hip flexors, shoulders, abdominals, and lower back. If you’re pulling a sled, you can add in your middle back, lats, and traps.
Raw Power: Strongman exercises such as the sled drag are excellent for improving raw power. Since the sled drag is performed as an explosive movement, you are giving all of your force output – everything you have – into one direction for a prescribed amount of time. This alone will improve your power, but when you continually increase the weight used, you’ll see leaps and bounds in power gains.
HOW TO PERFORM THE SLED DRAG
After reading the exercise instructions of the sled drag, we highly recommend watching a video demonstration as this will help to cement what you’ve read. We’ll be covering the sled drag that uses an actual sled and not weights that have been roped together. We will also add a note about hand-over-hand sled pulls.
Step One: Be sure to warm up the body with basic cardiovascular work such as the stair climber, jogging, or jumping jacks. The Jacob’s Ladder is an insanely good cardio warm-up if your gym offers it. A combination of a few different cardiovascular exercises will work best. Do this for about ten to fifteen minutes and follow it up with a stretching session.
Step Two: Place an appropriate amount of weight plates onto the sled. Position yourself so that one foot is in front of the over facing towards the handles of the sled.
Step Three: Tighten your core and straighten your back as you bend at the hips, bringing yourself into alignment with the sled.
Step Four: Secure a firm grip on the handles of the sled and check your stance one more time.
Step Five: Begin by taking a step forward with the back leg, keeping your arms straight the whole time.
Step Six: Continue walking forward until you’ve reached your prescribed distance. Turn the sled around and begin again.
Bonus Step: If you are using a sled for pulling movements, be sure to brace the core and back while slightly bending the knees. Begin by grabbing over hand with the right hand following this with an overhand with the left hand. Continue this pattern until you pull the sled to yourself.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR BEGINNERS
If you’re just starting out with Strongman exercises, here is some advice to keep in mind to make sure you perform the exercise correctly while staying safe.
No Need to Load Up: Sure, that giant truck might be your goal to pull, but don’t start out with one. Begin with a light load as you perfect the form and technique and the sled drag. Gradually increase the weight plates you use week by week.
Consider Strongman Gear: While the sled drag can be a low impact exercise, it’s important to safeguard yourself if you have prior injuries involving your wrists, knees, or lower back. Wrist wraps help to protect from strain while knee sleeves offer compression-based support. You don’t need a weightlifting belt for the sled drag, but it’s very useful for other Strongman exercises. However, you may want to consider a back brace if you’ve had issues in the past.
STRONGMAN EXERCISES: WILL YOU START USING THE SLED DRAG?
Will the sled drag be your next favorite Strongman exercise? Are you already crushing the sled drag and you have a video of yourself performing one with perfect technique? Tag us on our Instagram so we can share!