Building strength with the sled


Listen up and learn your sleds. Zach is dropping bombs. 

How can the sled be used to build strength?

A great way to program sled work is to think of time.

Try working in 5-minute sets, then 7 and 10 minutes, slowly building up the volume week to week. Do the same with the total amount of sets performed – Start with just 1-2 sets, then increase your work to 2-3 sets, 3-5, etc.

Use a lot of variety when you push the sled. Athletes MUST load their bodies in many ways to prepare themselves for competition, and this is one of the safest ways to do that.

Push forward, backward and sideways. Mix-up your grip, grabbing low and high, close and wide. Shove the metal, or use any kind of strap or rope you can find for dragging. The added hand strength will be enough boost pulling strength.

You can use heavy, medium or light loads. The lighter work is perfect for speeding up recovery after tough training, or for getting in work as you overcome an injury. You’ll also accumulate a lot of time under tension, which will help build muscle mass.

Add more weight if you want to train explosive or maximal strength. Just set your distance, load up the sled, then push as hard or as fast as you possibly can.


Is the sled low skill?

No, the sled doesn’t require much technique, especially for high-level Crossfit athletes.

As Buddy Morris once said, the sled is one of those simple exercises you can’t fuck up. That’s a very good thing when you’re training new athletes. Sure, you don’t want rounding backs, bending arms and diving knees. But that said, the sled is probably one of the safest ways to build strength and eliminate these issues. It can be an excellent way to prepare athletes for heavy barbell work.

It doesn’t matter how skilled you are in sport. Unless you have some serious barbell training experience, you should start your training with lots of sled work. Leg endurance and drive must be trained with focus. The sled is perfect for that.

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Also, of you can build incredible muscle endurance and toughness in the legs, you’ll feel MUCH better during any high-intensity WOD, that’s for sure.

Work the sled hard and you’ll able to perform more high-quality barbell reps. That’s critical for both fitness and strength.


Go drag!

This article should give you plenty of ideas for making the most of your sled training. If you want more great training information, just visit my site at There’s tons of great content there for you. Learn and share.

Remember, you don’t need to get fancy with your training. Just keep working with effort. Build up in time. You’re sure to grow incredibly strong.

Don’t have a sled? No worries. Instead of skipping this work (DON”T!), just strap yourself to an old rubber tire and start pulling. Trust me, that’ll end up making you very strong and fit.

If you’ve got any training questions, just leave them in the comments below. I’d love to help out.



12 Responses to “Building strength with the sled”

  1. Justin

    Love it! Sleds are one of those things that kill me but I always feel pretty B.A. about after. Legit article!

  2. Tony C

    Maybe a dumb question, but is it sensible to work a strength programme (5×5 etc) alongside crossfit sessions 3 x a week, or would i just be getting less return for time invested by combining the two?

    • Chris

      I think you must be very careful. Combining two of anything always comes with risks of doing too much. Scale down one or the other.

  3. Jared

    Been experimenting more with sleds these past few weeks. Found that you can make a pretty decent one with a couple of thick powerlifting bands, kettlebells and a weight belt. If you do this though I’d do it at neighbors because it is guaranteed to fuck up the grass.

  4. Mark Baumer

    now u guys just have to show us some cheap alternatives to a sled. have you guys seen any good DIY sled or prowlers?
    Ive used a car before but then you get that one friend that likes to stomp on the brake mid interval and you smash your face into the front of the car

    • Chris

      You can easily build one with some chain, tire or wood…just google or Youtube search “how to.”

    • Jared

      Hey man I’d just try my method. If you got some Kettlebells and a weightbelt all you need is a rope or some bands to attach them together.

  5. Anthony

    I just grabbed an old tire out of a friends garage. Going to use it for from “sled” drags. Found a website that had a “how to” to add the straps and add weight into the tire. Excited to give it a try.

    • Chris

      Tire sleds are great. Maybe better for home. That rubber sounds a lot better dragging up and down the street than the metal. Plus, friction means less load required. Play and have fun. The more you drag, the stronger you’ll get.


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