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You’ve tried regular deadlifts and bench presses– and maybe you’re in a rut. Whether you’re looking to make more gains or refresh your strength training, one of your best moves could be trying new equipment: a power sled. But not all power sleds are created equal, and knowing how to find the best power sled will make a difference in your workout.
Various outlets have reported that a mere 30.2 percent of Americans do any strength training at all. That means that over 60 percent of Americans not only don’t get in the recommended three days of strength training a week, but some never do it. So if you’re even strength training a little, you’re already ahead of the majority of the population.
My Top Picks:
- Pro Sled Core Unit (Titan Fitness) – Best Budget Pick
- TANK™ M1 Push Sled – Best Mid-Range Pick
- MX Power Sled – Best Overall
But if you’re motivated to hit not only those health guidelines but also see some results, it takes dedication– and we can all get in a rut. I know I have. That’s why adding in a power sled to your workout routine could be just the refresh you need. Not only does it work more muscle groups than you might imagine, but it just so happens that it’s a part of The Rock’s many workout routines.
And you don’t have to have great muscles to start. What you do need is the knowledge of how to best perform pushes and of course how to find the best equipment. So in this guide, I’ll tell you everything you know to find the best power sled for you, as well as my top recommendations.
What is a Power Sled?
Power sleds may not be your first thought when it comes to strength training, but they’re regularly used for bodybuilders and even ironman training. The power sled has a sled-like shape, but this isn’t the same sled you took out during snow days as a kid.
Power sleds can be pushed or pulled for resistance and strength training– and other benefits. Some have weights integrated into the design, and others use typical weight plates. In this way, power sleds are just as customizable and can be reduced or given more weight depending on your needs.
What are the Main Benefits of Power Sled Training?
Power sledding provides a lower body and back workout with a lower risk of injury. From speed to strength training, both power sled push and pulls are helpful. Eccentric loading, a common technique used in strength training, lengthens muscle contractions.
While effective for muscle building, it also tires muscles and causes soreness more quickly. But power sledding allows you to develop muscles without this method, reducing your fatigue.
- Lower Injury Risk
- Useful For Different Workouts
Does Sled Training Build Muscle?
Sled training certainly has the potential to build muscle, from your shoulders to your biceps to your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. To build muscle, you must consistently train, gradually increase the duration and/or weight, and include high-quality nutrition– including ample protein and calories. I’ve made a mistake in the past is upping training but failing to provide the nutrition I need to build muscle.
What is the Purpose of a Power Sled?
The purpose of a power sled is to provide resistance training and build muscle, but that’s not all. Power sled training is an impactful exercise that can be used as a warmup for other training, as cross-training, or as a way to begin a fitness program.
A power sled can be used in conjunction with other strength and resistance training or as an alternative. When done correctly, power sleds have a relatively low risk of injury. But I want to take a closer look at what power sled training can– or can’t–do for you.
To understand the impact of power sled training, you also need to look at both pushing and pushing and pulling.
What is Sled Pulling Good for?
Sled pulling is one activity you can perform for a great workout. Pulls focus on lower strength a bit more and ideally are used in coordination with sled pushing.
What Muscles Does a Sled Pull Work?
Sled pulls do provide a fuller body workout than you might imagine. Not only are you working your lower back– you’re also building strength in your legs. The quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings are all developed during sled pulls.
However, they’ll also work your shoulders, biceps and even improve your grip. That’s why sled pulling is helpful regardless of your fitness goals.
Stronger leg muscles are a plus for many activities, while a strong grip cannot be overestimated as a benefit for other workouts.
How Many Calories Do you Burn Pulling a Sled?
Some claim you can torch hundreds of calories in a matter of minutes. In reality, that’s not a good goal. As you’re well aware, your calorie burn is highly dependent on your body composition, your fitness, and the weight and effort you put into your sled pulling. You also have to factor in rest periods– normally 20 to 30 seconds– for your total workout duration.
The average person (150 to 200 pounds) can burn a few hundred calories in a 45 minute to an hour session. The biggest advantage is the boost you get after training. Like most resistance training, you continue to burn calories after your workout. If you’re building muscle, you also can improve your metabolic rate over time.
Does Pushing Sleds Make you Faster?
Sled pushes are great in many ways. I love sled pushing for an all-body workout, and I find sled pushing a little easier to start with or focus on– the movements are natural and easy to learn.
Sled pushing is a form of acceleration work, and it can improve your sprinting speeds. It also, like pulling, works not only shoulders and biceps but also your lower back and leg muscles.
Do Sled Pushes Burn Fat?
The term burning fat is a little problematic for a few reasons. The body begins to burn fat first as a source of energy, then eventually adapts and burns less fat with time. While the body can indeed burn fat, any new exercise routine, complemented with a healthy diet, can do so.
Burning calories and burning fat are linked, of course, but not 100 percent the same thing. Sled pushes have the benefit of getting your heart rate up and adding strength training, so they are effective for getting in shape. They help you develop muscles from shoulders to glutes, and you may burn fat in the process.
Are Sled Pushes Better Than Squats?
Squats and sled pushes are simply different– and it depends on your focus on which exercise is more beneficial for you. But they also have many similar benefits. Both back squats and sled pushes promote strength and muscle growth and, as is true for strength training, support bone health.
With sled pushes, the average person is understandably able to incorporate greater weight vs back squats– and also more reps. But muscle activation differs too. Sled pushes provide greater training for calves but work your coreless. See the table above to see the main differences between the two activities.
Both can be incorporated into a routine, but I like sled pushes a bit more. They also have a lower risk of energy and can be paired with ab exercises to make up for that disadvantage.
Is Sled Pushing Good Cardio?
Sled pushing is used for iron man training for a reason– when done correctly, it counts towards your cardio. It’s not a substitute for running, speed walking, or other traditional forms of cardio, but it can provide some similar benefits. It can be performed in heavy bursts as a form of HIT (high-intensity training) as well.
Is a Sled Push Bad for Knees?
Another plus to a sled push is that most can perform this exercise with a low risk of injury for their back, shoulders, and knees.
How Do You Use a Power Sled?
Of course, all of these benefits of using a power sled (sometimes called a prowler) don’t do much if you don’t know how to properly use a power sled. The first and most important step is to ensure that your power sled is on a level surface.
You should always check with your power sled, but many can be used on grass and concrete surfaces, in addition to concrete and home gyms. The biggest risk with grass in uneven terrain or wet terrain.
What is a Good Sled Push Weight?
To perform sled exercises, you’ll need to think about your goals. A higher weight is best for boosting your strength and muscle training, while a lower weight is best for working on more general and acceleration training.
Start with no more than 65 percent to 70 percent of your body’s weight, then work from there. By doing so, you’re ensuring a solid workout without pushing yourself too much.
Strength training sees people working up to 45 percent of the sled’s weight, while acceleration training usually hovers around 10 to 15 percent– but everyone is different.
How Often Should you Do Sled Pushes?
I recommend starting with just 2 days a week– 3 if you’re already in fairly good shape. That may not seem like much, but you’re still making progress without overloading. Sled pushes are hard work, and going in several days a week risks injury, even for a relatively low-injury activity. As you train more consistently, you can increase up to 5 days– but don’t do it every day.
What Arm Position Should You Have for Sled Pushes?
Arm position is important as well. Beginners should start with a simple position. Bend your elbows slightly but keep your arms near your body to provide greater control. Mix it up as you gain strength and control by placing your arms gradually further apart. This provides greater gains for your shoulders and biceps but is harder to do. Keep your back as aligned as possible.
How Do I Perform Sled Pushes vs Sled Pulls?
Performing sled pushes vs sled pull are also something to be aware of, as your stature and method must adapt. Adopt 20 to 30 second rests as needed.
To perform sled pushes, start with your hands on either side of the sled, using the supporting bars. Your hips should be slightly bent and your back as aligned as possible.
Push off with your dominant foot and keep your movements as smooth as possible. Ensure that you have enough room to safely perform the exercise.
For sled pulls, you’ll want to invest in a great strap or harness system (see a recommendation at the end of this article). The straps must be secure and should be aligned.
Your knees will be bent, with your chest upwards and your bottom in a position not unlike a back squat. As you pull, you should feel the straps tightening– but not too tight– and your back muscles working. As with pushes, keep your movement even as possible.
What Power Sled is Right for Me? (Selection Criteria)
Now that you know the general ins and outs of using a power sled, it’s time to find the best power sled. The right power sled for you should be made out of quality materials and offer an intuitive and comfortable design. Here are my selection criteria.
What’s the Best Material for a Power Sled?
A power sled needs to be strong– and I prefer it’s a material that won’t easily corrode or tarnish. Of course, if you use it outside, you need to be pickier. I most recommend durable steel for the main body.
If you’re using it outside, a feature like electrostatic paint is also a huge plus. Look for words like ‘all weather’ if you’re worried about tarnish or performance for a bad weather day.
Do Power Sled Handles Matter?
My next criteria is a great handle. A handle provides a more secure and comfortable grip for your most difficult workout sessions. Handles should have secure rubber grips, and some are removable for added versatility and storage purposes.
If you plan to train for long hours or have other concerns, an ergonomic design is a great bonus feature. Look for ridges to help you secure your grip. Molded grips and customizable handle positions are bonuses.
Is Friction or Magnetic Brake/ Belt Better?
Another decision you’ll need to make is friction vs a magnetic system. Friction sleds are more economical and can still provide a great workout- but they’re also quite noisy, and they don’t provide the same smooth operation as a magnetic-based power sled. Magnetic braking systems often don’t require added weight plates.
What About Resistance Levels?
If you want as much versatility and value as possible, some power sleds offer several different levels of resistance. Diverse levels of resistance provided added intensity to your workouts.
What Size Should a Power Sled Be?
Size is a matter of personal preference. Some are designed to be purposely compact– hence features like removable handles. Larger power sleds may be more comfortable for larger individuals, while smaller ones may suit small body types.
Power sleds range from around 60 pounds to over 100 pounds. 35 t0 45 inches in length is a good range.
What Other Features Should I Look For?
Something many people forget to look for is a warranty. I prefer a minimum of a 1-year warranty against manufacturing defects. I love 5 and 10-year warranties, however, because sometimes it can take time for defects to surface.
In addition, I take a look at the brand and see if they’re reputable and have both expertise and a history of delivering high-quality fitness products similar to power sleds. Bi-directional and safety features are helpful for beginners and advanced users alike.
Power Sleds: My Best Picks
Now I’ll show you some of the best power sleds you can buy– all based on the buying criteria I just discussed. I focused on quality, so these are not the most affordable power sleds, but they offer excellent features for many workouts to come. Of course, understanding that no power sled is perfect, I’ve also included pros and cons for each power sled.
Best Budget: Pro Sled Core Unit (Titan Fitness)
Not sure where to get started? This power sled may not come with all the bells and whistles, but it’s respectable and gets the job done. My most affordable pick is an inclusive push/ pull sledding system that allows you to perform a variety of workouts, all at a great value.
Push, pull and drag with convenient mounting for accessories. The frame is backed with a 1-year warranty and, like my picks below, can be used on anything from grass to concrete to asphalt. It’s a basic but sturdy sled, with the benefit (or downside) of being able to choose your handles.
- Very Affordable
- Suited For All Terrains
- Add Accessories and Handles to Your Liking
- Easy to Use For Beginners
- Must Buy Accessories, Handles
- More Basic Resistance
- Traditional Weight System
- Not As Easy To Store
Where to Buy
Best Mid-Range Push Sled: TANK™ M1 Push Sled
Most interested in building strength and want a more mid-range option? This power sled is a great value and also is a compact form, great if you’re low on space.
Removable handles allow for easy storage and transport, with variable levels of resistance, quiet magnetic brakes, and an adjustable system. It even comes with an ergonomic handle and doesn’t require plates for operation.
You’ll also get a 10-year warranty on the frame and a 1-year warranty on other materials. It’s a solid choice for a beginner.
- Quiet Magnetic Brake System
- Adjustable Resistance
- Compact Design
- Ergonomic Handle
- Caters towards pushing vs pulling
- More Limited Resistance Levels
- Still not as cheap as some models
- Requires accessories for greater workout versatility
Where to Buy
Purchase from Torque Fitness Here.
Best Overall: TANK™ MX Power Sled
Ready to level up? If you’re looking for greater resistance and a sturdy model, these ones are for you. The initial price point may deter some– but the features are not too dismissed. This power sled is as impressive as its sleek body first appears.
Patented technology offers 25 percent greater resistance than past models, with multipurpose and adjustable bar handles.
Larger and wider tires are equipped to handle greater loads and resistance. A lower push allows a more targeted focus on leg muscles, while a weight horn can be added for even more resistance.
Like other models, there are built-in safety features to quickly lower resistance– plus special acceleration features for HIT intervals.
- Full body workout, including acceleration and HIT
- Greater levels of resistance
- Highly customizable
- Safety Features
- Lower Push For Handles
- Very Pricey
- It May not be needed for beginners
Where to Buy
Purchase From Torque Fitness Here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Does Prowler Build Muscle?
Answer: Power is a nickname for a power sled. A power sled works your back, shoulder, biceps, and even quads, glutes, and hamstrings. As a form of powerful resistance and strength training, power sleds can help you build muscle with proper training and nutrition.
Question: Can You Use a Power Sled on the Grass?
Answer: The most important thing to remember is that you need level terrain. Most power sleds can be used on grass– but you should always check the model and materials used. The best power sleds may be used in grass, concrete, and asphalt.
Question: Do Power Sleds Ruin Grass?
Answer: Power sleds can ruin grass potentially, which only makes sense based upon the weight, pressure, and exertion. However, it depends on the situation and how often it’s used in one spot. It’s best to use power sleds when the terrain is dry (also out of safety concerns).
Question: Is Pushing or Pulling a Power Sled Easier?
Answer: Typically it is easier to pull items than push them. However, the workout of pushing vs pulling a power sled simply has a different focus and different challenges. Pulling a power sled focuses on HIT and acceleration work, whereas pushing a power sled uses heavier weights with a greater focus on strength and muscle growth.
Power sleds are relatively new to the fitness industry– but I think they’re a great investment. It’s hard to find exercise equipment that provides a full-body workout– with a low risk of injury. While you don’t need to spend as much as possible to find the best power sled, spending a little extra really can make a difference.
Final Buying Recommendations: Accessories For Power Sleds
If you buy a basic power sled system (see my first pick), or you just want to add more versatility to your workouts, it’s great to invest in some power sled accessories. Always check to see what accessories your power sled may come with. If you plan on pulling a power sled, you’ll want to look into a Strap Attachment, while others will prefer a Harness Attachment. Meanwhile, a Low Bar Attachment will be helpful for more basic models and switching up your resistance training.