At Queen City Kettlebell, we take a very individualized approach to program design. Programs are tailored to each client’s specific needs and goals. There are no “one size fits all” or cookie-cutter programs here. That being said, there are several mainstays in our training programs that you’ve likely seen incorporated into your own training if you’ve been with us for any length of time. You’ve probably worked on breathing and bracing. You’ve probably done Turkish get-ups. You’ve probably done kettlebell swings, squats, deadlifts, etc. But there’s another mainstay at the gym that everyone loves to hate: the sled.
The sled, much like a kettlebell, is a very versatile training tool. It’s also very simple and easy to learn, making it ideal for clients of all skill levels. Its versatility affords you the opportunity to load it up with heavy weights and focus on explosive power, or keep it light and focus on going for distance or time. With sled work, it is what you make it. One of the biggest perks of training with the sled is that it allows you to kill two birds with one stone, improving both aerobic and anaerobic fitness at the same time. A good sled workout can incorporate just about every muscle group from head to toe. It’s fantastic for building strength and power in the legs, glutes, midsection, back, shoulders, etc. Do a couple quick passes down and back on the turf and you’ll also find you have an elevated heart rate and you’ll be short on breath.
Another benefit of working with the sled is there is no eccentric portion to any of the movements. The eccentric portion of an exercise (think of the descent in a squat) is when the muscle is being elongated or stretched under tension. Eccentric contractions are thought to be responsible for a lot of the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) we experience after exercise, due to the micro-tears they cause in the muscle fibers. The lack of an eccentric portion, and therefore (hopefully) a lack of soreness, means we can do sled work fairly frequently without risk of it affecting our other training too much. This makes it an excellent addition to just about any program for a little extra conditioning.
As I mentioned earlier, the sled is a very versatile training tool that is universally beneficial. Pushing and pulling heavy objects around is something we’ve been doing since the beginning of time. These days it may not be for survival like it was for our ancestors, but just because you’re not dragging a kill back to the cave for dinner doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from these movements. After pushing a heavy loaded sled around in the gym, pushing the lawnmower or the stroller up the hill on Sunday feels a hell of a lot easier.