Explosive strength training will build superior power and strength and also improve your efficiency and economy as an athlete. High intensity training also increases power and strength, but adding explosive strength training will take both to a whole new realm. Sled training is an explosive strength training move using either your body weight or light to moderate weights. The following explosive strength moves focus on power and speed while also increasing strength in lower body.

You will need: Weight sled or old used tire. Weight sleds are metal sleigh-like devices with a peg in the middle. These are great for pulling poundage either with a shoulder harness or handles. If using an old used tire, attach two handles to it.  Using either device, hold one handle in each hand. Extend your arms in the direction of the sled or tire with the rope taut.  These power moves might not be as traditional as regular pulls or drags, but they will increase your leg strength and power. Great training exercise to intersperse between your regular strength moves.

Sled Pull


How: To build lower body strength, mark a large area with a distance of 20 to 25 yards in length and place your sled or tire at one end; this will be your starting position. Slowly start an easy run with powerful arm movements to pull yourself into a slow easy run jog until you reach the desired length. Rest 60 seconds and repeat 1-3x.

Cross-Over Pull


How: This move targets leg abductors and adductors, as well as gluteals and core. An excellent move for improving efficiency, economy and strength. Start at one of your predetermined marks and attach a waist belt to the sled or tire. Secure it around your waist and step away from it, standing sideways and ensuring there is no slack in the rope. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and knees and hips slightly flexed. Keep your shoulder blades retracted with your arms bent, as shown.

Step away from the device, crossing the foot closest to it in front of your far foot as shown. Step your rear foot out from behind your front foot to open your stance, and continue in the same manner. As you move, pump your arms in opposite directions to the front and rear of your body. (If using handles, omit this step.) When you reach your mark, switch directions. Continue this move until you end at your starting position. Rest for up to 2 minutes and repeat 1-3x.

Tip: Make sure the area is clear before starting this move. Keep your focus in front to help your hips and shoulders remain square.

Sled Push


How: This power and strength move works the entire body with specific focus on quadriceps, deltoids, core and calves. Get behind the sled or tire on all fours. Your feet should be about hip-width apart with your hands gripping the sides of the sled, keeping your arms extended so your hands are not directly below your shoulders.

Start moving the sled by pushing off with your legs. Keep your hips in line with your body as you move. Continue stepping until you reach your mark, then turn the sled around and continue back to the start. Rest for up to 2 minutes and repeat 3x.

Tip: (1) To increase intensity, push the sled horizontal, like a toboggan, instead of facing forward; decrease intensity by turning the sled so it is pointing in the same direction as your body. (2) If training indoors with no access to a sled or tire, simply use an Olympic weight plate which can be pushed on a carpet or turf.  

Conclusion: Take your training to the next level by interspersing explosive strength moves into your weekly strength training routine. Explosive strength training will not only improve your economy and power as an athlete but also improve overall strength and speed taking your performance to a whole new level.   


Sherry Shelton is a full time professional coach and trainer with over two decades of experience in the health and endurance sports industry. Sherry is licensed USA Triathlon Coach, USA Cycling Coach, USA Track & Field Coach and a nationally certified Personal Trainer. She is Head Coach and Founder of Train Smart Coaching located in North GA. Sherry coaches athletes of all fitness levels and has been racing competitively for over two decades. Visit www.trainsmartcoaching.com for more information or email at coachsherry@trainsmartcoaching.com