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Musings On a Sled

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

This post is the first entry in this blog. Hopefully the first of many to come.

For this reason I thought it would be suitable to start with a post that captures, if not all, then at least a large chunk of the topics and themes that I am hoping to cover in the future. Setting the stage for things to come as it were. Also in the spirit of getting straight to business we will start with something immensely practical.

Some months back I recorded a few videos on simple DIY projects for training. This one detailing the construction of tire sled was a particular favourite of mine:

Watch on YouTube

There are two primary reasons for constructing a sled like this one: it is a highly effective and versatile training tool and it can be made cheaply (possibly even free depending on your personal circumstances).

What I would like to do here is offer a few further suggestions for the construction process and touch briefly on how to approach training with the sled. [A more detailed discussion of the different uses of the sled will have to wait for a later post.]

In terms of the construction and acquisition of the relevant parts, the critical element is to get hold of a suitable tire. Local car dealerships and tire vendors often have hundreds of used tires lying around, and are likely to part with them for free, or at nominal cost.

However, there is one clear problem with this, the tires at such places are likely to be smaller car tires, which are lighter and less sturdy than what we ideally want. These tires has less structural rigidity and because of their small diameter it is difficult to stack enough weight on top of them – though the last bit depends hugely on what sort of weight you have available and what you are wanting to use it for in your own training. The practical solution to this problem is to seek out dealerships working with larger vehicles and heavy industrial machinery. There are also junk yards that deal with these types of vehicles. If you ask around there is likely be such places in your local area. The tire I used for my sled likely came out of a fork lift, and was acquired from a local junk yard. If no such options exist then a tire from something like a big SUV would also work. The video should give some indication as to what dimensions I am suggesting.

Choosing a bigger tire will also allow the sled to be loaded with what we might call ‘unconventional’ weights. Rocks, bags of sand, junk metal are all valid options and range from free to dirt cheap. It also means that it can be left alone outside until you next need to use it.

There are two principal ways of dragging the sled: the simplest is to grab hold of a rope and drag it backwards – the other is to attach this rope to a belt or strap which is secured to the hips. Both are valid, though my personal preference is for using the belt. Unless I am using the sled for upper body work. The belt also allows for more variation in the walking patterns, which allows you to work basically all the major muscle groups of the lower body.

Most commonly sleds are used development of specific types of endurance, and if you opt for a small sled that is basically the only option you are left with. With a larger sled it becomes feasible to develop strength and power by working up to a progressively heavier sled and/or pulling a heavy sled quicker. In other words it is still possible to get strong and powerful legs, even if Covid has taken away your gym access.

So enough talk. Go build a sled.

[This blog was first posted on my dreamwidth blog.]

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