Programming Sledwork

Aug 20, 2021

Conditioning work does not have to be boring nor does it have to beat you up. Developing your General Physical Preparedness (GPP) can add value to your training sessions and as well as break up the monotony.

One of the mistakes I see athletes make with their conditioning is not having enough variance in terms of energy systems development. The emphasis more times than not is on “longer, slower sessions” because most think “more is more.”

Besides, is it really possible to derive results from sets that only last 10-15 seconds!? It sure is and if you’re not utilizing these time domains you’re leaving gains on the table.

Bridge the gap with the sled

An effective way to train all three energy systems can be done by regularly including sledwork into your program. Because sledwork does not require a high level of skill to perform max effort sets, it’s a great choice for athletes of all abilities.

Sledwork is also devoid of axial loading and being more “concentric” in nature so you won’t incur excessive muscle-soreness that could impair your other training sessions.

Top it off with the fact that sledwork can double as “unilateral” work allowing you to simultaneously work on asymmetries.

With all of that considered it would be hard to imagine why anyone would NOT want to include sledwork into their program other than the fact they simply don’t have access to one.

The good news for around 80-100 bucks you can purchase you’re own sled.

How to incorporate

Adding sled work into your schedule so that it does not interfere with your current program is relatively straight forward, but we’ll need to have a clear intent in terms of the energy demands for each session.

The placement of each session must align with our other programming in terms of volume/intensity with high-threshold work being separated by a minimum of 72 hours.

A typical weak breakdown could look something like this:

Day 1: ATP-PC Capacity Intervals: Empty Sled Sprint Work with full recovery between bouts. Efforts will be 100% and recovery will be 15-20x longer than the amount of work. This work helps to improve the ability to maintain explosive power for an extended duration.

Day 2: Strongman Endurance: Longer Duration Sledpulls and Loaded Carries. This will enable us to improves areas of core muscular endurance, posture, and grip strength.

Day 3: Finisher: Mixed sled/carry work for longer durations (no longer than 10 minutes.) This work improves our ability to sustain anaerobic energy production for extended periods of time.

Some of these methods may look foreign to you as many of these methods are ones we cover extensively in our programming course, but think of it as a high-medium-low approach in terms of demand on the nervous system always being mindful of the fact that our highest intensity work requires more recovery between sessions.

And no, performing high-intensity work daily is not advised contrary to what you may see on IG.

Sled Drags

Sledpull + Wheelbarrow or Farmer Carry

Sledpull Holding Medball

Sledpull With Straps Between Legs

Sledpull Bear Crawl

Lateral Sledpull Holding Medball

Sledpull Backpedal

Sledpush Sprint

Upper-body Sled Work

Sledpull Facepulls + Rows

Overhead Sled Drag

Sledpull Presses

Sledpull Triceps Extensions

Sledpull Iso Row

Sledpull Facepulls

The Plan

Day 1, ATP-PC Capacity Intervals:
Empty Sled Sprints: 10 x 10-15s of Work. Rest 2:00
– You should be able to sustain work output, but keep in mind with “capacity” work if the output drops slightly that’s perfectly fine. If you feel completely drained, end your session.
– If you’re a CrossFittter this can be done a lower-body intensive day

Day 2, Strongman Endurance:
1) Sledpull Powerwalk: 10 x 60 yards. Rest 60s. Load on your sled should be moderate and you should be able to be forceful on all steps.
2) Farmer Carry or Yoke Carry: 10 x 20 yards. Rest 60s-90s. Use a load that’s challenging.
*Done as it’s own conditioning session

Day 3, “Finisher”
One of the above variations for a distance of 400-800 meters for time.

Other options:

  • Heavy Sledpull Variation on Lower Training Day: 8-10 sets x 40-60 yards resting 60-90s between sets.
  • Upper Sledwork: Done at the end of an upper session: 8-10 sets x 40-60 yards. Rest 60s between sets.
  • Recovery: Light sled work done for up t0 a mile with minimal rest.

This work can be varied quite easily to keep things fresh, but the most important thing to remember with these sessions is that our objectives should be clear in terms of work output, duration of sets, and recovery periods needed between sets.

Additionally, you will need to adjust the recovery periods to align with your capacity. For some, these rest intervals may not be enough so increasing the rest interval may allow you to reap more benefits.

Bringing it all together

One of the best aspects of performing conditioning work with a sled is that it’s efficient, it can be varied in a number of ways so we don’t get bored, and it does NOT take away from other aspects of your current training programming.

This work can actually add to your current training plan allowing you to get more from your main training sessions.

Most importantly, you’ll be less likely to have holes in your conditioning game, and will see a huge carryover to other aspects of your fitness, like strength-endurance and aerobic fitness.

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