One of the most underappreciated and versatile training tools for a mountaineer is the humble sled.
It can be used to develop muscular endurance, strength, conditioning and even aid your recovery. And today, I share how to use it best:
Now if you haven't come across a training sled before, the concept it as simple as it sounds. You load up a sled with weight, and then push or pull it back and forth a track or oval.
And while they are becoming more and more common in gyms, they still don't get the praise they deserve. And for a mountaineer, they can be your secret weapon.
Now there are endless possibilities of workouts you can do on the sled. But today, I want to share some simple guidelines on how to best use them for developing specific traits of fitness:
While strength is incredibly beneficial for a mountaineer to develop, many mountaineers out there are hesitant to challenge themselves with heavier weights.
Which is fair enough!
And if you are not so keen on heavier weights, the sled can often be a good answer for strength development. One of the best things about a sled is you can load it up HEAVY, without having to spend weeks learning how to do it properly or worrying about injury.
And while I will admit it isn't quite as effective as traditional strength training to develop your strength, it can be a good alternative if needed.
If you are looking at strength development with the sled, here are a few things you want to look for:
All mountaineers know muscle endurance is crucial for mountain performance. And while this is usually done on a hill or stairs, a sled can also be a great option as well.
If you are looking at muscular endurance training with the sled, here are a few things to follow:
If you want to mix up your standard lower-intensity conditioning sessions, the sled can be a great option again.
If doing this, here are some guidelines:
When you get to your higher intensity training, the sled can be a really fantastic option. It allows you to push FAST, working mountain-specific muscles, with minimal risk of injury (great for those who are not great at standard running).
A few guidelines:
One handy use of the sled, which is very underused, is using it for recovery workouts.
The beauty of this is that the sled has minimal 'eccentric load'. As eccentric muscle contractions are where the majority of muscle damage occurs, using a sled will allow you to get your legs moving and get the blood pumping, without putting any extra stress through the legs.
A few guidelines for this:
As you can see, the sled can be a fantastic training tool in many situations for a mountaineer. And if you haven't used it before, I highly recommend you get around it.
Don't have access to a sled? It is pretty simple to make your own! Simply put 'build a training sled' into Google, and you will find loads of options.
Now if you did like the idea of versatile training for mountaineers, and you are a bit bored of the standard routine of run/cycle/hike every single week, just know there are dozens of other (effective) training options for mountaineers out there.
If you want to discover a different process for your training, you can find it here:
Yours in adventure,
Rowan is a personal trainer who specialises in training for hiking, trekkers and mountaineers for their bucket list adventures.
Summit Strength is a personal training for hiking service created specifically to help hikers have the best chance of a safe, enjoyable and successful adventure.