Given: "Sled Training Is Just One Of Many Components of Training Acceleration and Power"
"The combine is 6 weeks away and I need to improve my start. My strength and conditioning coach told me to go find a field and to do sled pulls every day for acceleration work," said one of the nation's top NFL draft choices. Of course he did. He is just another victim/clone in the world of strength and conditioning. What he read in his sport conditioning study guide did not walk him through how to use principles and theories with personal conceptions and out-of-text thinking.
In other words, let's use our brains every once in a while. I believe in sled pulls. I also believe in power training for acceleration. I also believe in taking laws of physics and laws of biomechanics to a different level - the level of blood, sweat, puke and tears. A level of anaerobic hell.
Enter sand training 101. Let's get through the science and get to your guts. "Law Of Acceleration: This law states that a force applied to a body causes an acceleration of that body of a magnitude proportional to that force, in the direction of the force, and inversely proportional to the body's mass," according to Newton's second law of motion.
In athlete terms, if you weigh 245 pounds, you are applying 245 pounds into the ground. The ground then throws 490 pounds (2x Your Body Weight) back at you. Luckily you're leaning forward into what we call acceleration. This is only true if you are maximizing your correct biomechanics and your core strength. Let's assume you are. You are now in motion.
Sled training is great for power training for acceleration!
This is the easy way to get moving. Granted, you are still on hard ground. Let's put a sled behind you with a 45-pound plate. Now we have added resistance. We have added the factor, which is going to put your body in the stage of muscle cell recruitment. We are using just enough energy to pull the sled. When we take the sled off, we feel as though we are faster.
How Our Muscles Work!
In reality, our muscles remember we are using resistance and make sure that we have those additional muscle cells ready for the next sprint. The next sprint has no sled. Logically we will feel faster. Eventually the feeling turns into the action of being faster with enough reps. The ground is one level. The ground is like a trampoline. The ground absorbs force and shoots force back. The sand is many levels. In a soft sandpit that measures 3 feet in depth, the athlete will sink 2-3 inches with each step. The average width of a shoe sole is half an inch. So, that means that for every inch of sunken sand, you end up running on 2 different surface levels. Two to three inches of sunken sand per step will equal, approximately, 4-6 different surface levels.
Guess what? The soft sand absorbs 100% of the force applied into it, and throws back a small percentage of the force to you. You then have to pull your legs and body out of the sand (the 4-6 different surface areas) with a greater energy supply used and increasingly greater muscular strength than running on hard ground would require. This training results in an "anaerobic shock" (the 4th quarter) because your body has to find other ways to accelerate besides depending on the ground's primary force reaction. In addition, your phosphacreatine and ATP storages in the cells are depleted at a higher rate.
Your anaerobic system (short burst of energy system) is smashed. After training in the sand, with the right program design, regular, one surface, level ground will make you feel like you're accelerating downstream.
This training is resistance training brought to a different level. "The combine is 6 weeks away and I need to improve my start. My strength and conditioning coach told me, if I had the guts, to try this routine in soft sand (defined as sand that will let you sink 2-3 inches per step):
Example Training Program
With a sled and enough weight added to keep the correct biomechanics, try this pyramid at 200% effort:
Four 10's in the sand, Four 10's on the field.
Take a 2-minute break.
2. Three 20's in the sand, Three 20's on the field.
Take a 3-minute break.
3. Two 30's in the sand, Two 30's on the field.
Take a 4-minute break!
4. One 40 in the sand, One 40 on the field.
Understand the way you train,