Build Upper-Body Strength With These 6 Sled Exercises

Don't ignore your upper body. Perform these sled exercises prescribed by STACK Expert John Papp.

Everyone knows you can crush a leg day with sled exercises and 100 percent effort. Sled Pushes, Sprints, Marches: The list goes on about how to grow tree trunk legs, improve conditioning and take yourself to that dark place to train mental toughness.

But what about your upper body? I don't think the upper body should be left out of the fun.

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Here are six upper-body exercises you can use with your sled to crush an upper-body workout. If you are really feeling it, add some lower-body exercises for a killer full-body workout!

1. Face Pull

  • Set up the handles or straps on the sled, grab 'em, and face the sled.
  • Step back to create tension on the straps.
  • Keep your elbows up and pull your hands to your chin.
  • Step back and repeat.

If you have trouble keeping your balance, split your stance—put one foot forward and one back. This will hit your upper back hard. Focus on squeezing your upper back as tight as you can throughout the pull.

2. I,Y,T

This is actually a series of three exercises designed to hit the upper back and shoulders.

  • Set up like you did for the Face Pull. Go light on the sled if you use any weight at all. The I's are no joke.
  • Split your stance, keep your arms straight and raise your arms above your head.
  • Keep your back as straight as possible. If you feel a big arch, lower the weight.
  • After you lower it, do the same thing—but this time angle your arms out slightly so after you pull, your body is in a Y shape.
  • Finally, return to the starting position and turn your palms so they face each other. Pull your shoulder blades together with your arms straight. Pinch as hard as you can.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat the cycle.

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3. Strict Row

  • Set up the straps as before and step back to create tension on the straps.
  • Assume a half-squat position with your arms out in front, holding the straps.
  • Without changing your back position, row the sled toward you by pulling your elbows back, making sure to keep them tight to your sides.
  • Try to maintain the same half-squat position throughout the movement. By remaining in this position, you will challenge other muscle groups to hold in a static position.
  • Step back and repeat.

4. Power Row

  • Set up as you did for the Strict Row.
  • This time when you row, explosively pull the weight back and push your hips forward as hard as possible.
  • Keep your elbows in and your back flat.

5. Curl

  • Set up as above, but this time turn your palms so they face up.
  • Step forward a few steps and lean back until there is tension in the straps. You should be leaning slightly backward.
  • Keep your upper arm in the same spot, bend at the elbow and curl the sled towards your face. Your hands should end up at your chin.
  • Repeat to build those beach biceps.

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6. Press

Finally, a different setup.

  • Turn around and face away from the straps.
  • Grab them and step out until there is tension on the straps.
  • Stagger your stance with one foot forward and lean forward slightly.
  • Holding your hands next to the chest—just as you would with dumbbells to bench—press the straps off your chest.
  • Step forward and repeat.

Check out the video for visual demonstrations of each exercise. Now get to work!


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: UPPER BODY | BUILD MUSCLE | SHOULDERS | BICEP CURL | PRESS | UPPER BACK