3 Awesome Benefits of Sled Drags
The Sled Can Do It All!
Alec Enkiri | 7/18/22
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Nothing hits quite like the sled does.
Sled drags are a unique category of exercises because the action involved is purely concentric. There is no eccentric (or negative phase) involved which makes the movement very forgiving on the joints, while simultaneously pumping a metric-fuckton of blood into the upper and lower legs. These exercises can be used to build strength, muscle, work capacity, cardiovascular conditioning, and even for rehabilitation purposes. Here's a quick rundown of 3 of their major benefits.
Functional Leg Strength
There's a difference between the raw leg strength that's built in the weight room and the sort of leg strength that is involved in developing smooth and efficient movement capacity. The latter is not fully cultivated in the gym. The gym can help you to build the raw material necessary to increase your potential in regard to the latter, but other work must still be done in order to shape that material and nurture that potential.
That's where the sled comes into play. It helps you to bridge the gap between that "raw" leg strength built in the gym and the real world, "functional" leg strength displayed in your environment.
Increased Work Capacity
Sled work, though it feels very difficult while you're doing it, is actually quite easy for the body to recover from. This is because one of the unique aspects of sled dragging is that there is no eccentric component. There is no loaded lengthening portion that the muscles and joints of the legs/hips are subjected to while pushing/dragging a heavy sled. The majority of muscle damage and soreness is created through eccentric action, therefore, by avoiding eccentric action you limit the damage and the soreness.
Additionally, the piston like leg pumping action that is performed during a heavy sled drag pumps a metric fuck ton of blood into the legs. This blood flow promotes healing and recovery to the involved muscles and joints. Ligaments and tendons are notoriously avascular as compared to muscle tissue, which is why tendinopathy can linger for years if not rehabbed appropriately. Do not underestimate the restorative value of this type of work, especially as you get older.
The sled can go a long way towards adding plenty of meat onto your thighs. The thing about the sled is that it's a fantastic muscle & strength builder, but it's disguised as a conditioning tool. It just depends on the lens you choose to view it from. Most people choose to view it purely as a conditioning device, but that's a myopic viewpoint. You simply have to be willing to load up the heavy weights and suddenly this "conditioning" tool transforms into a powerful strength/hypertrophy tool as well.
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