Sleds are arguably the most functional piece of fitness equipment out there. But there are a number of different types of sleds and you can spend a lot – or almost nothing – to get a sled that works for you.
There are several considerations when buying a sled:
- Where you will use it
- The surface you will use it on (grass, concrete, turf)
- Whether you need push handles
We will start with the classic prowler type sled, though I am including any sled with upright push handles here. A traditional prowler sled has upright vertical push bars and usually low horizontal push bars in front (like the one in this picture).
The real advantage of this type of sled is the stability of the handles when pushing heavy loads. The low handles also allow for a crazy conditioning effect as the positioning itself makes it hard to breath and get good traction. There are some things you can do with a prowler type sled that you can’t do with others (like the plank walks). Prowler sleds also allow for the greatest loading, as you can put 1,000 lbs or more on most of the good ones.
The drawbacks are that they are heavy – most weigh between 70 and 90 lbs. They take up more room. And they are most expensive.
The next type of sled is a drag sled and these can be of a couple of different forms. They are lighter, much smaller, and cheaper. Good ones can still take a load of several hundred pounds, which is more then enough for us mere mortals.
The only real drawback of drag sleds is the instability when “pushing”. This includes presses as well as dragging with the sled straps held in front of you. That instability is actually a good thing for athletes and those that are more experienced. But for younger or older populations (and I would argue that sleds are the best tool for these populations) the stability of holding onto handles can be very useful.
Drag sleds are typically steel. They are small, light and many fold up. They are super easy to load and use and are the type of sled that makes the most sense for the most people. There are some companies, including Spud, that make them from other materials, like the “Magic Carpet” sled, which is good on floors of various materials.
There is a cheaper option as well for a great drag sled. It is almost free, it is great on concrete as it is far less noisy than steel sleds. You can make it in about five minutes. And you are recycling….
- Go the tire store and asked for a used tire – they will give you one for free.
- Cut off the top edge (not necessary, but makes life easier).
- Put a board in the bottom and throw in weight plates, cinder blocks, rocks…
- Drill a hole in the side and screw in an eye-bolt.
For all sled work you will need to buy a sled strap (which you can get here).
The Portable Option
The Speed Trainer is an extremely portable “sled” type workout that you can take anywhere with you. I have been using one for a while and it is the best portable exercise device out there. It has some drawbacks (like getting very hot with a lot of use), but you really can’t travel with a sled and a bunch of weight, so this is the best thing out there. I will be talking about this tool more and how best to utilize it, but if you do want to try one out, enter promo code “topher” to get a discount. \
There are now sleds with wheels that have various resistance. I have not tried any of them, but in my mind they are cost prohibitive, which really defeats one of the primary appeals of sleds.
- BUY A SLED (or two)… or build one
- Get a sled strap
- If you are older, or younger, or work with those populations, get a prowler type sled
- If you are working mainly on concrete, get the plastic “feet” for you sled, or use a tire
- If you travel, get a Speed Trainer
- Get Sledding!