Best Sled Push Alternatives for CrossFit Athletes

As tough as it is to push a sled, which is also known as a prowler push, I like that this exercise works out my entire body. It boosts strength, power, and speed, three of the many things I to work on. It also burns calories. Because it is not a typical exercise, the novelty makes it fun and interesting.

But if your box doesn’t have this piece of equipment, you have other alternatives that you can push: a car, a shopping cart filled with weights, or one or more plates on the floor.

You can also run on a treadmill that’s been turned off. Other alternatives to try are sprinting uphill, overhead walking lunge, partner band sprints, or isometric wall pushes.

Because these movements are unconventional, do them only with the supervision of your Crossfit coaches. They’ll tell you which choice will work best for you.

Push A Car

Pushing a car closely approximates the exact position and movement needed for pushing a sled, albeit with much larger equipment.

The most important thing to remember is that you have to own the vehicle, or at least have access to its keys. Because to do it right, you’ll need someone in the car to put the car in gear, to steer, and to step on the brakes in case something gets in your path.

Get in the back of the car, lock your arms out as you push on the trunk, sit with your hips, and push forward. If this becomes too easy, get more people from the box to sit inside the car, get a bigger car, or push it uphill.

Push A Shopping Cart

I’m not suggesting you take a shopping cart from your supermarket to bring to your workout. But if your box happens to be near a retailer that has these carts and one or more of them just happen to be nearby, there’s no harm in borrowing one temporarily.

Put cardboard or a towel inside to protect the cart, and then put plates inside. It’s designed to hold over 1,000 lbs., so you don’t have to worry about overloading it. Grab the handles, straighten your arms and sit your hips low with your head down and push.

While this does duplicate a sled push, it may move more easily because of the wheels. Be careful about going too fast.

Plates On The Floor

If you want to keep your efforts within your box, put a 45-lb plate on a towel on a smooth surface. Go low, put your hands on the plate, and push.

  • Because of the friction of the plate, you can’t go too heavy on this, but if you want a challenge, you can put more plates on top.
  • You may also have the plate moving too fast. You can either speed up your legs to keep up or push more on the weight from the top to increase friction and slow things down.
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Unpowered Treadmill

We don’t have treadmills in our box because we run outside. But if you’re lucky enough to have them, turn them off or unplug them. Then get into a running position on the treadmills with your hands pushing against either the bars nearest the console or at the console itself.

Drive your legs forward while keeping your hands straight. Eventually, the belt will turn to keep up with your movements and the lack of power provides plenty of friction. This resistance against your action will be very similar to pushing a sled.

Running Uphill

When you run uphill, you force your legs to go higher, which requires more force. This is similar to the sled push, which forces you to drive your legs more strength to move forward. However, the run does allow you to swing your arms more naturally, which you can’t do with a sled.

If you do not have a hill, try running upstairs. Start by putting a foot on every step before graduating to a longer stride that crosses two steps at a time.

You can make either the hill or stair workout more difficult by putting on a weighted vest.

At the end of your upward slog, you can look forward to going downward, which is far easier.

Partner-Resisted Band Sprint

For this exercise, you’ll need a partner who has your strength or is stronger. Loop a long resistance band around your hips and then have your partner stand behind you while holding on to one end of the band and dropping into a slight squat. Run forward as your partner tries to impede your progress by pulling on the band.

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Depending on how much resistance you want or the force you’re exerting, your partner can stay in place or slowly move forward. You’ll experience resistance that is similar to the sled push but the force will be coming from behind instead of the front.

Ask your partner to resist the temptation to suddenly release the band, as hilarious as that may seem at the time.

Overhead Walking Lunge

You’ve probably done this exercise as part of your WODs. Use one hand to lift either a dumbbell or kettlebell overhead as you lunge forward until your knee touches the ground.

Alternate legs with each lunge. When you reach a certain point, switch arms and continue to lunge.

The leg movement builds leg strength and general stamina, just like the sled push. Lifting a weight involves your shoulder, arm, and core. For a more advanced version that requires more balance, try holding a barbell with or without weights overhead.

Isometric Wall Push

This is a perfect exercise for a crowded box or a small space because you stay in one place.

  1. In a low lunge position with one leg forward, press your arms against the wall at about chest level.
  2. Lean into the wall and drive forward with your front leg while pushing back on your other leg.
  3. Maintain the tension in your upper body and core as you hold for 5 or 6 seconds.
  4. Repeat with the other leg forward.

Do this for about 10 reps total.

Tim Rollins, Editor

About boxletes was created by a team of CrossFit athletes and fitness enthusiasts who love to share information about the best CrossFit boxes, workout gear and equipment, and fitness and nutrition tips.

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