How to Use the Sled for Virtually Everything

How many of you in the "elitefts™ family" have a sled, Prowler®, or homemade version of one of these? If you do, then I don’t need to explain the many benefits that these implements can offer. However, if you just purchased or made one on your own and are trying to figure out what in the world you can use this for, I believe I can help you cover all your bases.

I was introduced to sleds years ago and let’s just say that my training and the way I train my clients has never been the same since. I hope that I can help you take your sled training to the next level or at least give you a more solid training methodology. This article will help you get stronger and leaner and will help you recover from injuries faster.

Sled/Prowler® and conditioning

This one is by far the most misunderstood uses of the sled I've seen. How many times have you seen coaches run their clients and athletes into the ground using the sled or Prowler® until they throw up or at the very least are lying in a pool of sweat unable to count straight? This isn't conditioning (trust me, I know). Before we go any further, let’s check with Webster’s dictionary to get a proper definition of what conditioning is.

Conditioning is defined as "the process of training to become physically fit by a regimen of exercise, diet, and rest; also: the resulting state of physical fitness." Based on this definition, anything that goes in excess of this could be harmful. Before I proceed, you should also know that the weight used on the sled shouldn't be unreasonably heavy. You aren't trying to beef up the legs—just the athlete’s conditioning.

Here's a sample routine for you to try:

Prowler pushes with high handles

  • Week 1, 3–4 sets or rounds for 25 yards, rest 90–180 seconds*
  • Week 2, 4 sets or rounds for 25 yards, rest 90 seconds*
  • Week 3, 5 sets or rounds for 25 yards, rest 90 seconds
  • Week 4, 6 sets or rounds for 25 yards, rest 75 seconds*
  • Week 5, 6-8 sets or rounds for 25 yards, rest 75 seconds*

*Make sure to use loads that are challenging for you.

Sled/Prowler® for strength gains
Once again, let’s start with the definition of the word strength. Webster defines strength as "the capacity for exertion or endurance." This portion is what most of you really want to read about—how to get stronger. I'll give you a list of exercises with descriptions and why you want to do them. This way you can continue to get stronger using the sled. I'll start with my favorites.

Upper body

  • Hand over hand Prowler® pull or row: This is a great exercise to build up the strength of the lats, forearms, biceps, shoulders, and rhomboids. The pump you'll get in your forearms is amazing.

  • Curls: This one is great if you want to add a twist on your bicep training. This one is also a great way to put some extra size on the biceps and keep the elbow joints healthy. One other tip—try not to use the back when doing these.

  • Triceps extensions (be careful with this one): This is another one that is great if you can master the form. This one is done exactly like the old school overhead extension on the cable machine. Make sure that you're at a 45-degree angle. Any higher and you won't be able to move the sled.
  • Chest press: This one is great for building up the chest, especially the pec/delt tie in. The angle of the elbows is key. I find that keeping them at less than 90 degrees is best. Of course, this may differ for you based on your shoulder structure.
  • Lying sled pull: This one is challenging because it's like doing a dumbbell pullover nonstop. This movement is great for building up the lats and forearms. Check out the video and give it a shot.

Lower body

  • Heavy Prowler® push: This one is pretty much self-explanatory. You want to load up the sled with a significant amount of weight and then push. This is great for building up the quads, glutes, and calves. Who couldn’t use bigger calves?
  • Forward/backward drag: These two are great for the calves, quads, and grip. Yes, the grip. When the sled is heavy enough, your grip will be taxed to the max. The quads and calves take a beating on both versions. In this version, no straps were held, but you get the idea.
  • Uphill push: This one is great for football players trying to increase their 40 time because it combines the uphill sprint with resistance. It can also be used to build leg strength simply by adding more weight.

Here's a sample routine for the upper body:

  • Chest press, 15–20 reps X 3–4 rounds, rest 90 seconds between rounds
  • Sled rows, 15–20 reps X 3–4 rounds, rest 90 seconds between rounds
  • Triceps extensions, 15 reps X 3–4 rounds, rest 90 seconds between rounds
  • Biceps curls, 15 reps X 3–4 rounds, rest 90 seconds between rounds

Sled/Prowler® for rehabilitation

If you don’t know by now that the sled can be used for rehabbing injuries and you aren't using a sled or Prowler®, you're missing out on one of the best tools for rehabbing a client or athlete. This is mainly due to the fact that it's "eccentric less," meaning there isn't any negative. I've used the sled to come back from a shoulder, hip, and knee injury. I'm not any Dave Tate by any means, but go check out his injury list. It will shock you. I'll discuss the shoulder in this section. Just to keep things fairly simple, let’s just say this about the shoulder—it’s built for mobility yet sacrifices stability for that mobility. How you use the sled for rehabbing your shoulder will depend solely on the extent of that injury. If you recently had shoulder surgery, I recommend following your physical therapist’s plan. However, if you've been cleared by your therapist and want to step it up a notch, the sled is a good choice. It's also wise to point out that just because you have the all clear doesn’t give you the license to load up a ton of weight and start training like you used to do. Make sure you check your ego at the door and use a sensible amount of weight. If that means using an empty Prowler®, do it.

Here's a great (sample) shoulder rehabilitation program using the sled:

  • Face pull: The face pull on the sled is a great way to build up the upper back and the rear delts. It's also great for teaching scapular retraction and thoracic extension. Don't include the external rotation with this. I find that it places too much stress on the rotator cuff. Perform 12–15 reps for three rounds.
  • T pull: The T pull is essentially like doing a rear delt fly, except with this one, you want to keep the arms straight. Bending the elbow will shift the focus to the triceps. This will take away from the rhomboid development. Perform 12–15 reps for three rounds.
  • Y pull: The Y pull is performed by simply keeping the arms straight and pulling the straps above your head, forming the letter Y. This is a great way to teach scapular adduction, which helps keep the shoulder in the socket. Perform 12–15 reps for three rounds.
  • A pull: The A pull is done by pulling the straps back and down toward the quads. This one should also be done with straight arms, as you don't want to let the triceps take over. The A pull is great for teaching thoracic extension as well as scapular adduction and depression. Perform 12–15 reps for three rounds.

Do these for as long as it takes your shoulder to heal completely.


The sled is a great tool when used properly. I've had much success with my clients using the sled, and you can as well. I hope this article has given you some ideas on how to use your sled or Prowler®. I'll be happy to answer any questions.