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Master This Move: Backwards Sled Pull

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When you think of a sled, exercise probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind (more like reindeer and sledding!). But a weighted sled is actually a super effective, albeit lesser-known, fitness tool. It’s a metal contraption that sits close to the ground with cylindrical poles around which you can attach weights. You then can either push (as picture to the left) the sled, or use the chain attached to the front to pull the sled. (Check out 3 More Tips to Amp Up Your Weight Training Workouts.)

“The sled pull is a great strength-based cardio move—you'll get your heart rate up while working your quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and calf muscles in one movement,” says Alyssa Ages, a trainer at Uplift Studios, Epic Hybrid Training and Global Strongman Gym. “It also helps develop power and strength in the glutes and hamstrings and, because pulling the sled backwards takes the focus off of your quads, works the oft-neglected lower back to boot,” says Ages.

Plus, it’s super tweakable. If your goal is to torch more fat and calories, put less weight on the sled, move faster, and cover more ground (with no rest). Looking to build more strength? Weigh it down a bit more and take your time. (But read up on 7 Surprising Signs You're Setting Yourself Up for Workout Burn Out so you don't over-tax yourself.)

While it certainly helps to have a sled for this one, you may not find one at every gym. But you can easily create a make-shift sled at home by rigging a rope or chain to weight plates or a similarly heavy object, says Ages. Work four sets of four reps of this move into your routine once or twice a week.

A Pull the chain or rope taut and lean your body back in the direction you will move. Feet should be placed in a wide stance to increase stability. Put your weight in your heels, engage your core and upper back, and keep arms straight and in front of you.

B Take short quick steps backwards. The idea is to move as fast as possible, building momentum as you go. Accelerate over the course of the entire distance. Repeat!

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