How the Sled Can be Used For Effective Power Training

How the Sled Can be Used For Effective Power Training

The sled or prowler can be used for effective power training. However, there are two prerequisites to its use. Firstly, it requires someone to have enough absolute strength to produce power. Secondly, it requires great technique in order to get the required effect of the session.

This particular education piece will not discuss technique NOR pre-qualifications BUT how to ensure it’s effective use for the purposes of developing an athlete’s power.

The prowler is unique in that it can be used to suit a variety of individuals and purposes. It can be used to help sport specific athletes enhance motor patterns required for their respective sports and it can be used to metabolically drive and challenge the metabolic process for the purposes of physical conditioning. It can be used to improve mechanical changes in ground contact and hip extension coordination. It can be used in aerobic grinding pieces, short fast bursts with turnover, unsustainable efforts for threshold work, training or testing. To summarize, the sled or prowler can be used to suit a variety of training needs.

The last type of use is an area of training for the time period of 30-40 seconds of work. This time domain of work represents power training.

This area of work requires the coach to have an understanding of the client’s abilities, the load being used, the intensity being asked and where it sits in the training day and overall plan to determine what the effect will be on the client.

If the client does 30 seconds of “work” with the sled, and it is done for a certain distance and effort, and they rest 30 sec and repeat that same work over and over a few more times all with 30 seconds of rest between efforts, this is called possibly sustainable work, or aerobic.

If the client does 30 sec of “work”, followed by 30 seconds of rest like above, over and over, and they DECREASE output per round, this is called unsustainable work, or work done for the purpose of capacity or testing.

If the client does a 30 sec piece of “work”, and requires 4-8 min to recover from that piece of work to do it over and over – this is ALSO unsustainable work, but with the rest period it allowed a full recovery to REPEAT the work the SAME each set. This is called sustainable power work.
This style of work and learn scenario is coaches can truly dictate the effect they wish the sled training to have on their clients.

Anyone can make someone suffer with the prowler. There is nothing to learn in that for other users or coaches. If you want to train the prowler for power and adaptation to that power, then the work/rest scenarios of a 30-40 sec time frame, with 4-8 min rest is the right kind of work for the right audience.

It does not make other work/rest scenarios wrong, it just makes you question why the other methods are done.

The positive aspects of the 30-40 sec time frame with the prowler are many:

  • High contraction rate in a short period of time
  • Intensity mixed into a work/rest scenario that can build on future anaerobic endurance sets
  • Specific bilateral hip musculature function that is NOT used in traditional weight lifting environments at those angles and speeds
  • Work output places the client close to an O2 debt scenario without pushing over to enhance mitochondrial function without fatigue
  • Creates progressive efforts for builds towards specific power testing
  • Allows a litmus on power output for how the CNS is trending in the training program
  • Eloquently balances power output and the start of breath control with power

In order to make sure you are using the sled or prowler for power training correctly, refer back to the of benefits above.

If the person can do 30-40 seconds at a high output and can rest 4 min and repeat that same effort for the same work output again, then add load or effort to the next subsequent set.

The idea around this area of time for work is that the client should comment that it, “will NOT be sustainable for a few more seconds”.This is when you know you have the right person doing the correct intervals and the right dose response for the work being done. After all, it is a non-sustainable activity that is being done, which requires a longer rest, which requires the right power, which requires the right person.

With this work/rest scenario, you can watch closely for a SMALL drop off in total work performed on a set. When this happens, you have 2 choices – kill the workout OR increase intensity and do one more. For younger aged trainees, offer the latter, for more trained people, kill the workout and save it for another time. This style of training can be properly placed alone as conditioning for some, or on back end of training for others.
If someone is in a setting where they have the force requirements and are doing other weight lifting obligations in the week, this style of training works well alone in the week on a session by itself. Consider the following example:

A. Snatch work
B. Power Jerk tech work
C. Front Squat – Singles
D. supplementary muscle endurance work
E. Core
Sled Power Time

If someone is in a setting where the power for must occur for them in the SAME training session, its best done like this:

A. Jerk off blocks
B. BS singles
C. Upper Body Work
D. Sled Power Time

In most cases, the sled work requires so much timing and motor coordination that when it’s done under fatigued states of the core and hips, there is a chance of:

  • faulty patterns being built – then compensatory actions in how to do the prowler
  • power work for the CNS becomes learned in a tired state, not in a learning state
  • overloading of the hip muscles and overuse or strains or injuries occurring because of muscle contraction rates not being able to work

Be cautious of training the hip muscles too much prior to the training of the prowler for power. The hip work should enhance the power work, and not diminishes what you are trying to accomplish in the session. Start with small sets of two.

Why two?

Because at least you can create some ideas on what the pace needs to be and effort to create repeatable almost unsustainable work. Like this: 35 sec work hard effort, rest 5 min x 2 – then place the scores (distances achieved and load used) side by side and compare.
This allows training for the power system.

It’s possible you have under trained the power you are capable of but you are better off training UNDER the top end power at the start of low sets and reps than overdoing it from the get go and now learning how to fight your way back to pacing.

Next session: 3 sets @ 35 sec hard, rest 5 min….next session after that: 35 sec hard, rest 5 min x 4…..over and over.

Add sets over time with same time variable (volume works best first for power development, when volume is achieved, then add speed).

Keep at this time variable of 35 sec in the example above, and same rest with a little more sets for 4-8 weeks. It will take time (and each person is different) to adapt to and learn the required effort.

You want to make those working sets MORE efficient over time with higher volume, that is the key. Then you can retest a 40 sec all out test and see if you have improved POWER. To increase then again, move to 40 sec of work, 5:20 rest x 2…etc…and build again. These are good practices in training the prowler for power, and ensures you and your clients are getting the right dose response for the work you are trying to do.

Power training is an example of what we call Energy System Training. This type of power training would fall into the alactic energy system (or OPEX Gain as we call it). Learn more about Energy System Training with our free guide. Download now and develop progressions to build the alactic, lactic, and aerobic energy systems.

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