There is no denying that the sled is an outstanding tool for conditioning. As a matter of fact, it has quite a few unique benefits such as:
- Most exercises are easy to teach.
- Almost all exercises are self-limiting and therefore, quite safe.
- All of the exercises are concentric only. So while they will create a killer pump, they are much less likely to cause DOMS due to the lack of eccentric movement.
- Most lower body exercises are very knee-friendly.
But what if you don’t have a sled or the space for one? I’ve got you covered.
Here are some exercises that can replicate the demands of sled conditioning without all the space:
1) Band Resisted Sprint – This exercise is used to replace the standard sled push. After placing the band around the client’s waist, you hold the opposite side of the band and create counter pressure which will allow the client to learn forward into an angle that will allow for sprinting. The key is to create enough drag to make the movement challenging while not preventing forward motion. A 1 inch band usually works best with women while a 1.5 inch band is better suited for men. The optimal sprint time is 10-20 seconds depending on the client’s ability.
2) Reverse Band Drag – This exercise is used to replace the standard sled drag. Like the band resisted sprint, you will wrap the band around your client, but this time they will be facing you (I prefer to wrap a band around a dip belt due to the more comfortable fit around the lower back area). The client will lean back slightly and take the slack out of the band and you will provide resistance as they walk backwards taking small but deliberate steps. This exercise is a great replacement for the leg extension machine due to the lack of force placed on the knee joint.
3) Band Resisted Rope Pull – While similar to rope pulls with a standard sled, this exercise does have an eccentric component which increases the difficulty. Wrap a band around a squat rack or other solid point that is secured to the floor and tie a rope to it (battle ropes work great for this). Walk back with the rope to find a length that seems sufficiently difficult when pulled all the way to the knot made at the connection to the band. Assume a solid deep squat stance and pull the rope back until you can touch the knot then carefully let it back under control and repeat while alternating which hand touches the knot. Make sure you don’t let the rope back in too far between pulls or it will be too easy.