Sled Push Exercise: How To, Sets & Reps,…

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The sled push looks intense but you may wonder if it fits into your workout routine. Find out how to do this exercise and what effects you can expect.

As the name implies, this exercise simply involves pushing a good workout prowler sled, often with weight plates on top of the sled to make the movement more challenging.

Due to the big range of weights you can use, prowler sled pushes can be used as a warm-up, a HIIT cardiovascular workout, and to train muscle power, strength, or endurance in a variety of leg muscles.

One downside to keep in mind is that you don’t get a loaded eccentric movement, like in lowering yourself during a weighted squat. Loaded eccentric training has its benefits too.

In simpler words, the sled push exercise can definitely offer great results in a variety of areas. If you don’t mind the lack of eccentric training it could be a good choice for you.

How to do a sled push

As the name implies, you need a prowler sled and potentially some weight plates to be able to do this movement. With this, take the following steps to do a sled push:

  1. Put the prowler sled on a good surface, load it with the desired amount of weight, and stand in front of it.
  2. Put your hands on the handles. Tilt your upper body forward but keep your spine more or less straight throughout the exercise. Additionally, keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the push.
  3. Take big steps with your legs and go through the full range of motion with each leg. You can do a certain number of steps, push a certain distance, or push for a certain amount of time.

Two things to keep in mind are keeping your arms slightly less than stretched and keeping your back more or less straight while doing the sled push.

Additionally, if muscle growth and strength are your goals, you want to make sure you take big steps where your leg muscles go through a big range of motion.

Sled push sets and reps

With all the different training goals and workout prowler sled weights, it can feel challenging to find the optimal number of sled push sets and reps. Make sure you warm up before these sets and reps.

First of all, for a warm-up, 2 minutes of unloaded sled pushes should be enough but increase the time if needed.

Next, for HIIT cardiovascular workouts you want to use a weight where you get out of breath before your muscles fatigue. The set and rep guidelines for HIIT workouts are not as strict as muscle-building goals.

As an example, you could do 30 seconds of vigorous sled pushes, rest for 90 seconds, and repeat 10 to 20 times. You can also switch up these time intervals.

To train muscle power you want to use a weight where you can barely do 5 steps with each leg. Do 5 prowler sled push steps with each leg (so 10 steps in total) at a fast pace for 2 to 6 sets with 2 minutes of rest in between each set.

Individuals who want to train muscle strength want to use a weight where they can barely do 12 steps per leg. Push this sled for 12 controlled steps with each leg (24 in total) for 2-6 sets. Again, rest 2 minutes after each set.

For muscle endurance, you want a weight you can push for 20 steps per leg. Do these 20 controlled steps per leg (40 in total) for 2 to 6 sets with 2 minutes of rest between the sets.

Sled push muscles worked

A prowler sled push mainly works your glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thigh), quadriceps (front thigh), calves, and lower back core muscles like the erector spinae.

The more you tilt your upper body forward, the more you will focus on your glutes and hamstrings.

Additionally, your hip flexors (front hips), deltoids (main shoulder muscle), trapezius (upper shoulder/neck), triceps (back upper arm), pectoral muscles (chest), hip abductors (outer thigh), hip adductors (inner thigh), and other core muscles will have to work to a smaller extent.

With what weights and in what repetition ranges you do your sled pushes decide what your results will look like. Make sure you choose the right reps and sets for your training goals.

Sled push benefits

Some people are not entirely convinced about prowler sled pushes but adding this exercise to your routine can offer you some helpful benefits. Some examples are:

  1. Stronger muscles: With the right weights, reps, and sets, sled pushes can challenge your muscles to the point where they can become bigger and stronger.
  2. Can help with losing weight: Sled pushes increase your energy usage and can help build muscles. These effects tend to be helpful for losing weight but keep in mind that other areas like nutrition still matter too.
  3. Easy to customize difficulty: When it comes to workouts, you want to challenge yourself enough to get a lot of benefits but not too much to avoid the opposite effect. It is easy to customize the difficulty of your prowler sled pushes.
  4. Can improve cardiovascular health: Similar to many other body parts, your heart and lungs can be trained by challenging them in safe amounts. Sled pushes are a great way to do this.
  5. Keeps things interesting: Enjoying the workouts you do can help you stay consistent. If you enjoy doing sled pushes or simply something different than usual, this exercise could help with this.
  6. Can improve athletic performance: Sled pushes can be great for training cardiovascular capacity, muscle power, and muscle endurance. These fitness components can improve performance in many sports.

Sled pushes are not completely unique in these benefits but they can help a lot. Even just doing one extra exercise can make your life a lot better.

Calories burned with the sled push

Many people are also interested in the number of calories burned with sled pushes.

Due to the many different factors including body weight, how fast you push, the weight you use, the surface friction, etc., it is hard to give precise estimations that are accurate.

That being said, a rough estimation is that most people will burn around 118 – 203+ calories per 15 minutes of vigorous weighted prowler sled pushes.

Who can do the prowler sled push

By now it is clear that prowler sled pushes can offer a lot of benefits. At the same time, you may still wonder if this exercise is worth adding to your routine.

Similar to other exercises, the prowler sled push has its strong and weak areas. Below you can find in what situations this exercise is worth considering.

People who want to warm up their legs

Warming up your muscles before more intense exercises is typically recommended.

The specific way you do this is not as important. That means sled pushes are one of the many ways you can warm up your leg muscles.

Individuals who want to improve cardio and lose weight

To improve cardiovascular health you want to do exercises that challenge this system.

Weighted sled pushes are obviously not the only way to do this but they can be a great option to improve cardiovascular health anyway. Especially if you really like doing this exercise.

Similarly, to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time, you want to do vigorous movements that require more energy from your body. Sled pushes are definitely one of the great options.

Athletes who want to improve leg muscle power and running speed

Besides cardiovascular health, another factor that influences running speed is muscle power. This is how much force your muscles can generate in a short amount of time.

To train muscle power you want to use a lot of weight and vigorous movements. Not all fitness equipment options are great for this because of reasons like being able to drop the weights.

On the other hand, prowler sleds are great for training leg muscle power. You are not able to drop any weights and at the same time, you can easily do vigorous resistance training with heavy weights.

People who want to switch up their workouts

Doing the same exercises over and over can get monotonous. Individuals who need some variety to keep their workouts interesting may find sled pushes a great option.

Sled push alternatives

Sled pushes can be a great exercise but at the same time, there are alternatives that offer similar position effects. Some of these weighted sled push alternatives include:

  • Running (with a weighted vest)
  • Squats
  • Mountain climbers
  • Broad jumps
  • Step-ups

Why you are considering sled pushes or one of its alternatives will influence your choice between these options a lot.

Potential risks

Sled pushes are not the exercise with the highest injury risk but some people will find them hard on their back, ankles, and knees.

If you have issues or tend to be injury sensitive in these areas, it may be smart to start with other movements.

And even after doing more sled pushes, you may want to keep an eye on any pains or aches. These could be an indication that you are doing something suboptimal or that this movement is not for you (yet).

Is the sled push a good exercise?

Doing sled pushes can offer valuable benefits for your health and a variety of fitness components.

One of the main things that stand out in this movement is how versatile it is.

You can use sled pushes for goals like warming up, HIIT training, and training muscle power, strength, and endurance.

One downside is that sled pushes do not offer a loaded eccentric movement similar to most resistance training exercises. Loaded eccentric training can be a valuable part of your workout.

Besides the drier benefits, you also want to keep in mind that how much you enjoy doing sled pushes matters too. If you like this exercise, it becomes easier to stay consistent with a workout routine that includes them.

Lastly, make sure you give your body the nutrients, rest, and sleep needed to repair and strengthen itself after doing more weighted prowler sled pushes.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.