The sled pull is a dynamic move that will work on your legs, upper back, and grip strength, it's also good for getting your heart rate up. While these pulls do help with multiple muscle groups, this article will focus on the quads and why it is beneficial for your knees. In our gym, we set up the sled pull by attaching a TRX strap to our weighted sled in the carpet area between the cardio floor and weight room. You will then face the sled with the TRX handles in a neutral grip. Then you want to slightly bend at the waist and knees to get into an athletic position, this is followed by extending your arms straight in front of you and keeping good shoulder posture.
The actual movement is pretty simple - just start walking backwards! Posture plays a massive role in protecting the lower back and shoulders when doing this move. Try to focus on squeezing and activating the quad muscles with each backward step. If you are struggling with balance you can start by taking small steps, as you get comfortable with the movement you can increase your stride to your normal length. The reason we want to key on the quad in this exercise is because of the benefits of stronger quads and the protection they can give your knees.
The quadricep is comprised of four large muscles located on the upper, front part of our leg, the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and the vastus intermedius. This set of muscles are responsible for a few very important things, first of all, they are extensors of the knee joint, flexor of the hip, and they even help stabilize the knee joint when running. As you can imagine, these are crucial patterns when walking, running, squatting, etc. In other words, we could all benefit from what the sled pull has to offer on the quad involvement alone. In a study published by the Cleveland Clinic, a group of people between the ages of 40 and 79 took part in a test to see how quad strength would contribute to cartilage loss. After about three years of continued studies, 15% experienced a loss of knee cartilage. 44% happened to participants with quad weakness versus 11% with normal strength. This is one very specific study but I think it is a great example of how the move can truly help our body. Something like preserving knee cartilage probably isn't a specific goal for most people but it will definitely be something we would all appreciate in our future.
Watch the video below to get a moving visual on how to do the sled pull, then come over to Western and give it a try!