Noticed the prowler sled being used in your local gym and always wanted to give it a go? You’re in luck, because we’ve got everything you need to know about how to do a sled push in our latest guide.
Not only that, but we’ve listed a bunch of push sled workouts for you to try, no matter what your goal is for the exercise.
Before we get straight into our guide on everything you need to know about prowler sled training, check out our range of Personal Trainer courses and fitness teaching qualifications to see how you can turn your passion for the gym into a full-time career!
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What is the Sled Push?
Before we jump straight into how to do the sled push, we thought we should give a short explanation of what it is first for those who aren’t sure.
In a nutshell, the push is a modifiable exercise that is frequently used by fitness enthusiasts pre or post-workout. It’s great for conditioning the body for sports or long-distance running, and some runners even use it to recover after an injury.
It involves engaging your glutes, hips, back, hamstrings, calves, core, triceps, and shoulders all at once, whether you load the sled with heavy weights or not. This is what makes it a great full-body exercise for those looking to challenge their fitness.
We call the push modifiable as it can be used as both a high-intensity and low-impact workout, depending on the user’s goals. We’ll talk more about this in the sled push benefits section, but it’s good to take note of this point when attempting to understand the exercise!
The push involves pushing a prowler sled for a designated distance or time frame. The weight and distance used will vary depending on your goals, but this is the basic idea of how the exercise is completed.
If you're also wondering 'what is a prowler sled?', then you have nothing to worry about here. You can see en example either above or below to jog your memory (you will have seen one if you've been to the gym before). Or, you can check out our recap summary.
What is a prowler sled?
A prowler is a piece of exercise equipment used for conditioning, building muscle mass or active recovery. It's essentially a push sled with wheels or a flat surface at the bottom.
It's usually used with weights as they make it increasingly difficult to move the prowler, which is where the user builds their strength. It wouldn't be effective if it was easy to move!
How to do the Sled Push: Finding the Correct Sled Push Form
Before jumping straight into our push sled workout, we’re going to quickly explain how to use the prowler sled for those who haven’t yet mastered it.
All in all, you’ll be glad to know that using the prowler gym sled doesn’t involve a whole lot of skills. It’s a relatively easy exercise method, as well as being pretty versatile.
However, some people are confused by the host of videos and images online that display different methods of using the prowler sled, and we’re here to clear things up.
The most common questions we receive are:
- Where should I hold the prowler sled?
- Should I grip it with my arms extended or flexed/tucked in at my sides?
- What angle should I position myself in?
- Should I move fast, or use long and steady strides?
To answer these questions holistically, it depends on what your aim for the exercise is.
If you’re a beginner, it’s easier to start with a high grip, your arms extended, your body at a 45-degree angle and with a slower pace (while you get used to the exercise).
To give you an idea, your form should look something like this as you’re in the starting position:
- Have your arms extended (high-grip)
- Keep your body at around a 45-degree angle
- Ensure your face is pointing to the ground, your neck aligned with your back
Now, if you’ve seen other starting positions and forms for the weight sled push exercise they probably looked something like this:
The difference between this sled push form and the one above is that this is done with a low grip, so your body is at more of a 90-degree angle (with your neck and spine aligned as usual). You should only try this form once you’ve mastered the exercise.
One thing to note when you go with a low grip is that it puts more strain on the calves, so it’s definitely worth trying as part of an intense lower body workout.
NOTE: if you’re using a low grip, be sure to keep your glutes in line with the rest of your body and NOT too far above your back.
One more variation of the sled push form which may cause some confusion is when some people have their arms in flexion, rather than extension. It looks something like this:
You’ll be glad to know that the variations in weight sled push techniques aren’t as vast as they seem, especially when it comes to HOW you grip the prowler sled.
When you’re deciding between having your arms in flexion or extension, it’s a matter of preference. Most people go with whichever one they find to be the easiest or more practical in getting the prowler gym sled to move.
No matter your grip or hold, some vital things to remember are:
- Keep your foot stance the same as your natural running position, not one foot behind the other. This will ensure that you’re driving forward with as much force as possible
- Brace your core before you move, and during the length of the weight sled push. That way, you’ll feel stable and able to generate the right amount of power
- Have a firm grip on the prowler sled
- Keep a neutral spine position
- Have your torso and pelvis facing forwards
- Ensure that your knees are in line with your feet
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Sled Push Workout: Different Techniques
Want to put together the perfect sled push workout for either before or after your usual daily exercise?
The first thing to do is to establish what you’ll be using it for. Perhaps your sole objective in your exercise routine is to pack on as much muscle mass as possible, or maybe you’re currently in recovery and looking for a low-impact way to keep fit.
We’re about to jump into the different ways you can use the weight sled push to maximise your workouts!
Training for Mass and Strength
To use a push sled workout for building muscle mass and strength, you should treat it as you would any other weight-based exercise for the same purpose.
Load it up heavy. It’s called a weighted sled for a reason, and you want it to be a heavily weighted sled if you’re to make gains.
- If you’re focusing on upper body mass, try a higher grip
- If it’s leg day, go for a low grip and attack your calves
Go as heavy as you can, and don’t worry too much about your speed (as long as you’re moving fast enough for it to be a challenge, which it should be by default if it’s the maximum load you can take!).
To give you some guidance for creating a push workout to improve your muscle mass and strength, here’s an example.
Sled push workout for mass and strength:
#1 - Load up the prowler gym sled with around 70-90% of the maximum weight you can take
#2 - Perform a push of around 10-40 yards (working up to 40 if you can’t get there straight away), at a slow/medium speed, however fast you can manage at a constant pace
#3 - Take a 1-2 minute rest
#4 - Perform the push again (to the other end of the track)
Repeat this for about 4-6 sets at either the beginning or the end of a workout, and it’ll be a great addition!
Training for Endurance
Looking to condition yourself for endurance through a sled push workout?
You’ll be glad to know that you can perform either a high or low impact workout with the prowler sled to boost both your endurance and work capacity.
One great thing to note is that a push sled workout doesn’t involve the ‘negative’ part of reps, as things like bicep curls or deadlifts do. It’s very functional and easier to push through than other strength based exercises because of this fact.
It’s more of a natural movement, which is why it’s so great for improving your performance in sports and long-distance running.
Sled push workout for endurance and work capacity:
#1 - Load up the prowler sled with around 25-40% of your maximum load (depending on how high-intensity you want the workout to be)
#2 - Perform a 1-minute push, as fast as you can manage at a constant pace (you should keep it as consistent as possible)
#3 - Take a 30-60 second rest (less time than you would for strength training)
#4 - Perform another set
Repeat this 5-10 times for the best results. It works great as a finisher to other endurance workouts.
Sled Push Workout for Speed and Power
As we mentioned in the sled push benefits section, the prowler sled can be extremely useful for boosting power and speed through sprint drills.
You want to start with a moderate weight, one that you feel comfortable sprinting with but that still poses a challenge.
It may also be best to use a lower grip on the prowler sled for this kind of workout, as it places more pressure on your calves and resembles a natural sprinting position.
It’ll allow you to drive through your lower body with more power, rather than expending energy on the upper body. We’re here to train lower body power here, after all!
Sled push workout for speed and power:
#1 - Use about 30-40% of your maximum load
#2 - Sprint for 20-40 yards (working your way up to 40 with practice)
#3 - Take a rest of up to 2 minutes (it’s important to get enough rest with this push sled workout as the objective is to give it 100% effort)
#4 - Push the sled to the other end of the track
Repeat this 8-10 times, and try to increase the weight you are pushing as you go long. Remember to put 100% effort into every push with this one, and be sure to not overload yourself so much that you’re unable to do so.
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Training During Recovery
As we mentioned earlier, the prowler gym sled is a great tool for active recovery.
It may be tempting to lounge on the couch watching all the TV you can digest after sustaining an injury or suffering from DOMS. However, if you want to stay on top form and keep your current fitness level, a low-impact workout can be the perfect option.
TIP: keep your grip low for this one, especially if you’ve recently sustained an injury (and be sure to get the all clear from your doctor!).
Sled push workout for active recovery:
#1 - Use around 30-40% of your maximum load, or less if you can’t manage this
#2 - Take a moderate, consistent pace for 1-2 minutes (pushing the prowler sled back and forth over 40 yards)
#3 - Rest for 1-2 minutes, or more if you need to
#4 - Repeat the exercise
Do this for 5-10 sets, taking it easy if you become fatigued and ensuring that you don’t take it too far. It can work well on its own for those in active recovery, or as part of a low-impact cardio routine.
The great thing about the push is that it’s great for maintaining strength through concentric movements during recovery, as it won’t damage the sled push muscles worked nearly as much as it would during weight training movements that use eccentric portions of lifts. It’ll keep your upper and lower body in good form, and is much better than sitting around doing nothing!
Sled Push Benefits
#1 - Easy to Master
In comparison to other exercises such as deadlifts, squats or even running, the weight sled push is pretty simple. The form is easy to grasp, the technique is straightforward, and chances are that there are a few prowler sled models in your local gym.
The best thing about this point in the list of sled push benefits is that it makes the exercise accessible to almost anyone, no matter their fitness level.
Why not try integrating it into your current programme as a finisher? You can start light and work your way up once you’ve gotten the hang of it, which you’ll be glad to know won’t take long!
#2 - Improves Strength
This may not come as a surprise as it is a form of weight training, which is ‘strength’ training by default. However, it’s definitely something worth noting if building strength is one of your top priorities (which if you’re into fitness, it must be).
Depending on how you use it, you can manipulate how you build strength. This weaves into some of the other sled push benefits, so stick with us to find out more about building different types of strength with the sled push!
#3 - Builds Muscle
You’ll be glad to know that the sled push benefits include packing on muscle mass (if you do it right!). Alongside an active programme and good nutrition, you can gain muscle and shed fat simultaneously with this exercise.
One of the best ways to build muscle with the sled push is to load up to the maximum weight that you can push, and then push it for a short distance (but one that is challenging enough).
This way, you’re putting your muscles under the right amount of strain to enable them to grow. If you used a lighter weight and a longer distance, you could still gain some muscle mass but nowhere near as much.
The sled push works the calves, core, glutes, quads, hamstrings and more, meaning you’ll develop muscle all over if its executed properly.
#4 - Burns Calories
Looking to speed up your metabolism and lose some of the extra energy that your body is storing? You’ll be glad to know that the sled push calories burned are huge when it's used as an intense workout.
Think about it: if you’re pushing more than your own body weight across a room at the fastest pace that you can manage, your body is going to be shocked into action.
Even if you finish your usual workout with a few sets of this exercise, you’ll be certain to reach new sled push calories burned over a set time period. Why not give it a try?
#5 - Boosts Power and Speed
When it comes to the components of fitness, power and speed come hand in hand. They’re both skill-related so if you’re looking to train for sports or marathons/triathlons, you’ll definitely benefit from sled push training.
Speed is best improved with the prowler sled when the weight is heavy enough to prove a challenge, but not so heavy that it prevents the legs from being able to quickly reach a sprint. With this method, you can work on your acceleration which also ties into speed, and perform better in races or during active sports.
Power is trained in a similar way, and can certainly be improved with regular practise alongside speed training. However, to truly train the power of your entire body, you must use the sled push muscles worked at maximum force.
The best way to do this with the sled push is to work up to the maximum amount of weight that you can take whilst sprinting, and ensuring that you’re putting your all into the exercise.
The heavier you manage to go, the more powerful and fast your body will become. The sled push is a great way to achieve both of these things, as many other exercises tend to focus on other components of fitness first.
You’ll build explosiveness in your legs and hips through completing the powerful movements, and it’ll turn you into a force to be reckoned with!
#6 - Acceleration
Want to pick up your acceleration during sports? With the sled push, you’ll be running laps around your competition before they’ve even set off sprinting…
There are two main factors that can affect how well acceleration is trained, and they’re explained well in this article on the Sled Pushing Technique for Acceleration. These two factors include the amount of force that the ground receives during the start of the movement, as well as the angle that the body is at during this application of force.
For the best results, go for a 45-degree angle (your body in proportion to the ground), and use maximum force in each stride (landing on the ball of your foot).
If you take a look at Olympic sprint competitors and their technique (you can see if you watch closely), you’ll see that they use their hamstrings and glutes to drive themselves forward. It’s this technique that allows them to be successful, and you should take a leaf out of their book!
The sled push allows you to drive through these areas and develop the perfect technique to get going as rapidly as possible.
Thanks to effective acceleration training being one of the sled push benefits, you’ll have nothing to worry about when it comes to firing off. Regular player of active sports? Work on your acceleration with the prowler gym sled and you’ll see cracking results.
#7 - Good for Sports Conditioning
The fact that the sled push is a full-body exercise (paired with its ability to cater for the development of almost every area of fitness) makes it great for sports conditioning.
Got a specific goal in mind? Or perhaps you’re wanting to condition yourself in numerous areas of fitness. Whatever you’re looking to achieve, we can almost guarantee that the sled push will help you along in your journey.
It can be used for both low and high impact conditioning and modified in multiple ways to fit your sporting needs. The load, rest periods, or time intervals used for the exercise change how it will condition your body, and hopefully you can see how versatile this makes the sled push.
The sled push benefits for sports include improving work capacity and endurance (to name a few), and we couldn’t recommend the exercise more for conditioning purposes alongside a good fitness regime.
#8 - Prevents Injury
Injury prevention is definitely something most of us overlook. Equally, it’s something that we’d probably take into account more often if we knew how train for it.
The prowler sled is the answer to all of our prayers when it comes to injury prevention, especially for those who run long-distance or play sports.
In this LiveWell article on the most common sporting injuries, you’ll see that a good few of the injuries listed concern the legs or lower body in some way.
Injuries such as hamstring strains, ACL tears, shin splints and patellofemoral syndrome can all be avoided through regular training of the affected areas. What method of training is the answer to this? You guessed it.
The sled push works extremely well for strengthening areas of the lower body that are missed by other exercises, namely the lower legs, ankles and feet. This is due to the 45-degree angle that the body is placed at when pushing the sled, and the amount of force that it takes to move it when it’s loaded.
If you work these areas regularly enough, they will be less susceptible to injury out on the field. Use the sled push as a finished after your normal routine, and you’ll be able to feel the difference in no time when changing direction quickly and sprinting after the competition.
Looking for some advice on how to prevent ACL injuries? Check out our article for everything you need to know.
#9 - A form of Active Recovery
Last on the list of sled push benefits is that the exercise is a great method of active recovery.
Recovering from an injury and worried about not doing enough exercise? As long as you’ve got the all-clear from your doctor to try the sled push, there’s no reason why you can’t do it.
The important thing to remember whilst in recovery is to keep it low-impact. A low-impact sled push exercise will get you to where you need to go through the concentric contractions of the muscles that take place (as opposed to eccentric).
This means that you’ll avoid DOMS and further injury whilst improving blood flow to the damaged tissues. It’s like killing two birds with one stone!
Before you go!
Hopefully now you’ve got a good idea of what a sled push is, and how it can help you to enhance your current exercise routine (no matter your goals).
More exercises to try out
Want to expand your workout routine with some killer exercises? Check out our guides on the following:
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Written by Professional S & C Coaches