Reverse Sled Drags Reverse sled drags are a very low-tech and versatile lower body exercise. They can be used to rehab an injury, reduce stress on a sore joint, increase strength, improve conditioning and/or as an alternative to traditional strength training exercises. Reverse drags work the quads in a knee-friendly way for both “healthy” athletes and those with joint problems. They can be used as a standing terminal knee extension exercise to help strengthen and increase quadriceps mass after a knee injury, or to provide an effective alternative for anyone who needs to avoid more stressful knee-dominant exercises. Because reverse drags let you work the legs with little or no spinal loading, they are also good for those with minor back problems. Finally, because there is limited eccentric stress when reverse sled drags are performed properly, athletes should exhibit less residual muscle soreness following a reverse drag workout than following a workout using traditional strength exercises.
Reverse sleds can be used as both a strength tool and/or conditioning tool. To improve strength, increase the resistance, shorten the distance and increase the rest interval. For conditioning, reduce the load, and increase the distance and rest interval. Put them in at the end of a workout when using them as a conditioning tool or “finisher” drill. Because the arms, shoulders, core and hands are engaged as you push with the legs, reverse drags allow you to integrate upper and lower body strength through a stable core.
Specific distance and rest intervals will vary depending on strength and conditioning level of each athlete. For most athletes, we use distances of 20-40 yards for strength and 40-80 yards for conditioning. The mechanics of the drill are fairly simple. Attach some straps to a sled, grab hold and walk backwards. Focus on keeping the back flat so it doesn’t round. Reverse drags can be performed standing upright or squatting down a few degrees. Both ways are good, but squatting tends to stress the quads a little more.
Jose Vazquez, PT, CSCS
Head Strength Coach, Texas Rangers