I’m a personal trainer and have had several clients undergo my crushing sled workout on a hill. Below are guidelines.
You will need a standard exercise sled, appropriate strapping to rig the sled for pulling, weight plates and a smooth grassy hill, ideally very short so that the top can serve as a recovery station.
Warming up for the hill sled workout:
The hill workout requires a solid warm-up, which can consist of brisk walking up the hill, then jogging up the hill, as well as empty sled pushes and pulls in level areas, and some light to medium deadlifting. Proceed onto the hill using an empty sled, still in the warm-up phase.
Once warmed up, you’re ready to huff and puff, push and pull, and breathe heavy and hard at the conclusion of each run.
There are different ways to go about this routine. If all you have access to is a very short hill, like the kind of smooth-grass hill that’s between a sidewalk and a parking lot below, then you will have to move as fast as possible, relative to the weight load on the sled or the weight of the tire.
If the hill is so long that the recovery point will have to be somewhere on the hill, then the scheme can vary, ranging from the shortest and fastest runs with lighter loads to long, slow but torturing runs with heavier loads for the sled. Long, agonizing runs can also be done with light loads.
A scheme can focus entirely on 30 second runs with sled pushing and pulling, meaning, after about 30 seconds, you can’t go any further and are breathing very heavily. You should walk during recovery.
If the recovery must take place on the hill before the slope levels out, walk perpendicular to the slope, back and forth. If you prefer, slowly walk up the hill for a few minutes – a huge relief from having to push or pull the sled up the hill.
In between short, explosive pulls and pushes are several minutes of this kind of recovery. Keep in mind that, depending on fitness level, you may need ONLY the sled for pushing or pulling: no weight plates required.
Stronger individuals will be able to handle added weights, which may range from a 10 pounder, to a 25 or 35 pounder, and for beasts, a few 45 pound plates.
Remember, this is uphill. The hill changes everything. See if you can handle for a 30 second burst. For some people, their best “burst” will actually be a laborious, panting crawl.
A different scheme would be to focus on prolonged climbing while pushing or pulling. The pace will vary, depending on fitness of the individual, and the load.
As long as you’re breathing heavily and working very hard, an ultra-slow pace is perfectly fine. You may even have to pause every so often to catch some wind or just relieve the muscles, then resume climbing slowly.
These longer runs may last a few minutes, even five minutes, all while pushing a sled (empty or not) or pulling it (empty or not). This will be nothing short of absolutely draining. Take active rest (as described previously) for several minutes in between these slower, longer runs on the hill.