Body building

Wheeled Sleds vs. Conventional Sleds: Professionals and Cons

Courtesy of Armored Fitness Equipment / 4zevar / Lebedev Roman Olegovich / Shutterstock

Sled push and pull exercises test your whole body strength and condition. No wonder sleds are a must in serious gyms and sports training facilities. But there is more than one sled type – and lately the classic ski sled for bike versions has been thrown overboard.

According to Mark Rippetoe, a former competitive athlete who runs Starting Strength and the Wichita Falls Athletic Club, metal skiing on the bottom of a sled and prowler can be problematic for several reasons. For starters: "A traditional ski sled is hard on the surface you push it on," he says. "It is also very sensitive to the surface it slides on," he adds.


The skis do not slide as easily on a surface as rubber and are annoyingly loud when crossing concrete. Another disadvantage is that external factors such as temperature, humidity and usage over time can affect the surface on which you slide the sled. "That's why there are no Prowler competitions," jokes Rippetoe. "The conditions change with every sled."

The best surface that a traditional sled can be pushed onto is turf that is smooth and protects the ground. However, if your gym doesn't have a lawn, it may be better to try a sled with wheels if your gym has one. A sled with wheels generates significantly less ground friction and is therefore more efficient to push than a sled without wheels. But that doesn't mean it's easy.

"It recruits the same muscles and attacks the same areas – they only change the means of resistance," says Don Saladino, senior fitness and wellness consultant at M&F, a New York-based trainer who clients like Sebastian Stan and Ryan Reynolds in Has brought shape. It means pushing or pulling a truck as seen in Strongman competitions. "It doesn't matter that it has wheels because you still generate tension," he explains. "It's about getting into a certain position and doing a full body movement that recruits your ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders."

With sledges without wheels, you load the weight and rely on gravity to generate tension. The variant with wheels works differently, as some use small motors or magnetic resistors to simulate pushing a heavy load. The Armored Fitness XPO trainer, for example, has an “exponential resistance curve” that increases resistance with increasing pressure. Such sledges protect the surfaces from wear and tear, eliminating the need to add weight plates – although you can still do this for added resistance – and surpassing skill. Serious athletes can push until they vomit, while beginners and even rehabilitation patients can work on functional movements with an easy-to-control sled that adapts as they get stronger.

"You see, you don't always have the luxury of pushing a traditional sled onto the perfect surface," says Saladino. At the end of the day, he demands, all you have to do is build tension – regardless of whether you load a chic sled with wheels, a ski sled or even a wheelbarrow with stones and take them with you for a ride.


Traditional sledge



Build up explosive power Good fitness training Quantify loads


Can damage surfaces. Loud when used on concrete

roll carriage


Build up explosive power Excellent condition training Can be used on any surface Suitable for all skill levels


Loads more difficult to quantify



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