Sled Training for Beginners

There are no “best” exercises.

But through a lot of years of experimenting and coaching, I have found what I would consider the ideal exercise for most people.

For some background, I have been training for more than 20 years. I have been a certified Olympic lifting coach since 2005. And I am a college strength and conditioning coach that has worked with National Champion athletes. I love to experiment and test things out, first with myself, and then with my athletes. And this is what I have found…

First, let’s look at what the ideal exercise would look like.

The ideal exercise would:

  • Help you look and feel better
  • Make you Stronger, Leaner, and Faster
  • Be easy to learn
  • Be safe (no injuries or joint pain)
  • Can be done anywhere, in almost any weather
  • Not make you really sore
  • Need minimal and inexpensive equipment
  • Take 6-12 minutes
  • Be effectively used by:
    • National Champions
    • Those in rehab and recovery
    • Young kids
    • Grandmothers
    • The average Joe … or Jane

I used to be a ski racer, and am still a track sprint cyclist. And I have tried many techniques to get stronger and faster. I have also tried a lot of different things with the athletes that I work with to help them get stronger, faster and leaner, while keeping them injury-free, including Olympic lifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, TRX, bodyweight workouts, HIIT, Triphasic, plyometrics, compensatory acceleration, to name a few.

These can all be very useful in their own way, but are they ideal?

Weightlifting (and this includes all versions, like Olympic lifting, CrossFit, etc) is not easy to learn, and is potentially not safe (I know of WAY too many athletes getting hurt in the weightroom), needs lots of equipment (usually expensive), will make you sore, and takes at least 45 minutes to an hour. So not ideal…

HIIT, intervals, TRX, bodyweight work, even plyometrics can be great to get lean and gain some strength. And they can be done in 15-20 minutes usually (or even 7 if you follow the NY Times). These aren’t ideal, however, because they really aren’t going to make you particularly stronger, and will not be enough to give you the body you want. And for athletes – or those wanting to be athletic (which we all should) – these are clearly insufficient. It has been shown that heavy resistance training is one of the best things you can do, even if you are an endurance athlete. So these are not ideal either…

So what is the answer?

Sled Training

6×6 Challenge Special Offer

6 minutes a day for 6 weeks to get Stronger, Faster, and Leaner. Finally get the results that you want and to get a step ahead of the competition. You have almost nothing to lose (6 minutes and few bucks...and fat) and lots to gain.


I have been experimenting with sleds for quite a while and have used them with excellent results with a number of national champion athletes, as well as with 10 year-old athletes I work with, and with the injured and elderly. In my many years of training, I have seen nothing as effective.


We are not talking about just sled pushes, which are great. If you were to do only one thing, that would probably be the best (even according to one of the best and most well known strength coaches out there). But sleds allow you to perform movements that are truly full body compound exercises. They are unlike anything you have done before.

  1. Sleds will make you STRONGER
  2. Sleds are proven to make you FASTER
  3. Sleds will make you better conditioned, fitter, and LEANER
  4. Sleds are a true full-body workout
  5. Sleds are easy to learn (even the advanced movements) and use
  6. Sleds are great for rehab and can be done without upper body involvement
  7. Sleds don’t make you sore (no eccentric portion of the lift)
  8. Sleds can be used by 10 year-olds and 80 year-olds
  9. Sleds and are used by the best athletes in the world
  10. Sleds can be used outside (proven better for you) in almost any weather
  11. You can buy or build a sled for less than $100, and even less than $10
  12. It only takes 6-12 minutes to get an amazing workout

6 Week Sled Training Programming – Basic

This package includes the basic training, video demonstration, nutritional guidelines, a guide to the best sleds, a way to build your own sleds (in 20 minutes with $20), our warm up series, and 6 weeks of training, including new exercises every week.


My Story: How I came to Sleds

I was an athlete through school, though never as successful as I would have liked. I was blessed with good genetics in terms of strength, but I was also born with monocular vision, so I have no depth perception (if you are wondering what that is like, try to play ping-pong or shoot hoops with a patch over one eye). Surprisingly, I was a decent slalom skier, and raced Division I carnivals, but ended my career early. I turned to track cycling after realizing that I was a fast-twitch guy and have done that ever since with some success. But the weightroom and heavy resistance training has always been part of my program.

I began coaching skiing the year after I graduated from high school and have continued that as well. My favorite part was the gym work. The gym is a place where hard work counts, where the process matters, where you come out feeling better than when you went in, and where I wasn’t always running into things with my one eye (although I have some bumps on my head that show that I still do that occasionally). I used a lot of Olympic lifting and got certified in 2005 (before it was cool), even working out on a platform with a very young Mat Fraser.

I have been a college strength and conditioning coach for a number of years, designing and implementing programs with Division I ski teams and other Division III varsity teams, including the National Champion field hockey team and women’s lacrosse teams, the NESCAC Champion track team, the men’s and women’s tennis teams, as well as others. I was brought on because of my expertise with technique, especially in the technical lifts.

In the last several years, I began to use sleds more and more. I was looking for something that was easy to teach athletes and was safe, but also something where they could really push themselves. Typically the college weightroom has a few different types of people in it. A few know what they are doing. Then there are a lot of people doing exercises poorly. Then, there are the athletes that are trying to keep up with their buddies and teammates and lifting weights beyond their real capability. And there are those that are lifting weights while chatting, not really getting anything out of it because they don’t feel comfortable and don’t know how much effort to put in.

Sleds are really easy to teach. I have never had anyone get hurt using sleds (at least not yet), though a couple of people have thrown up – Nordic skiers really know how to push themselves. You can’t overdo sleds. If the weight is too much for you, the sled simply won’t move. And it is very easy to put in full effort with sleds. You will actually find that it is hard not to put in full effort.

So I still train athletes in the weightroom. And I still do a bit myself, especially some Olympic lifts. But the vast majority of my own training is sleds, 6-12 minutes a day. And while technically past my prime, I am in the best shape of my life. I look better (aside from some wrinkles and a lot less hair) and am stronger than I have ever been. I take some very basic vitamin supplements, eat well, and that is it.

And that is saying something, given that 10 years ago I was struck down with a mysterious life-threatening illness that had me hospitalized five times in three years and had me bedridden for a time. I needed a walker to get around at one point and didn’t have the strength to lift a glass of water with one arm at another. So I have not always been strong and healthy (but more on that at another time).

I believe that resistance exercise really is the best medicine – the best thing you can do for your body and brain. And I believe that high quality training should be available to everyone, not just those that can afford a nice gym or expensive equipment. As stupid as it may sound, I believe that if everyone spend 6 minutes every morning doing a sled workout (ideally in groups), the world would be a significantly better place.

So, it is time to just take the next step. If you don’t want to take my word for it, here are some others…

What others are saying

“I’ve seen the incredible impact his coaching has had on my strength and the strength of my teammates.”

“I have gotten so much stronger. I think the focus on the posterior chain and generating power has made a huge difference in my skiing. Can’t say enough about the positive changes.” Division I Ski Racer

“I have worked with Topher for the past three years of my racing career as a trainer and workout coach. He has prepared me for elite skiing performances, one of which resulted in a NCAA Division I Championship title.”

“If I had to trace the catalyst for our success to a single cause, it would be early morning sled workouts with Topher. The team met at six am to push, pull, drag, and crawl with workout sleds. Topher used a variety of different weights, distances, and repetitions to ensure all levels of athlete were working at their maximum capacity.”

“His technical expertise and natural teaching ability allows our athletes to use more advanced lifts than our competitors and to do so safely. Most importantly, the cumulative strength gains our team has made in this time has surpassed our goals.” Division I Coach

“I’ve been extremely impressed how Topher has created plans that have provided appropriate levels of challenge to every athlete”

6×6 Challenge Special Offer

6 minutes a day for 6 weeks to get Stronger, Faster, and Leaner. Finally get the results that you want and to get a step ahead of the competition. You have almost nothing to lose (6 minutes and few bucks...and fat) and lots to gain.