Since I recently swapped from weightlifting to HYROX training, I’ve been getting to do a range of new exercises I’m not used to and I’m loving the switch up. Last week I wrote about the exercise that’s transformed my core (and no, it’s not a floor-based exercise like crunches or planking). This week I was desperate to share the single exercise that works the muscles in my entire body. After all, when it comes to working out, these days people want easy wins and quick fixes and, while this exercise is certainly not that, it’s a ‘non-traditional’ compound exercise that works multiple muscles in the body. It’s fun, there’s no jumping involved (or barbells) and it’s a one-way ticket to build up your strength.
The exercise that I speak of is a sled push. "Sled pushing is an excellent full-body workout that can help you build strength, endurance and power," says Farren Morgan, Founder of The Tactical Athlete and serving PTI in the Coldstream Guards. "The benefits of a sled push exercise are vast. It engages your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes and it also strengthens your core muscles. It's a fantastic cardio workout too that elevates your heart rate and engages the entire body. This results in a high-calorie burn and is a great way to improve your endurance as it challenges your cardiovascular system."
If you’ve never tried this exercise before (or heard of it) it’s basically where you have a sled that you stack with weight plates and then push it for a set distance. It helps you burn calories, build muscle, strength and the movement of pushing can be transferred into everyday life too. I respect that a sled push isn’t a piece of home gym equipment we all have just lying about and you can achieve similar results doing multiple exercises using a pair of dumbbells. But, if you go to the gym and happen to have one and you’ve not yet used it, it’s a piece of equipment I highly recommend giving a go. Especially if you’re someone who likes variety in their training routine.
For my HYROX training at the moment I’ve been pushing 150kg for 30 metres, five times round and I’ve already told my coach we’re including it in my plan forever, because I think it’s that good. Some people like to push the sled with their arms extended out in front, while others (myself included) prefer getting their body a little closer to it. Either way is perfectly fine, it’s whatever works best for you. If you get the chance to give it a go, try it! And, if you do, here’s some cues from Farren, on how to master it.
Top tips for mastering the sled push
1. Pick a decent pair of shoes that provide good traction and support, like the best cross-training shoes or the best trail-running shoes (we've also got a guide on our pick of the best workout shoes in general).
2. Aim to move the sled with your legs, instead of your arms. Keep your knees bent, your hips low and engage your core muscles.
3. If it's your first time trying the sled push, opt for either no, or light weights, aim to get your form correct first.
4. Keep your chest up and shoulders up to prevent slouching, which can cause bad form and increase the risk of injury.