Sled Push Alternative (10 Best At-Home Substitute Exercises)

sled push isn't something everyone will have heard of, but it's a very effective way to train your body. It involves pushing a loaded sled up and down a track within a gym, engaging your upper and lower body simultaneously to make it move.  

There are a lot of benefits to a sled push exercise, but if you're working out at home or your gym doesn't have one, then you need an alternative. In this guide, we'll introduce some sled push alternative exercises so you can decide which is best for you.

To get the benefits of a sled push without a sled, you need to mimic the movement. We’ve compiled a list of the best ways to copy the movement at home and get all the benefits of a sled push without the equipment:  

1. Running With Resistance  

Running with resistance is a very similar motion to pushing a loaded sled, and you can use resistance bands to achieve the same effect. Wrap a durable resistance band around your waist and have a partner hold the other end.  

Sprint away as hard as you can while they're holding you in place, and you’ll feel the burn on your whole body. If you don’t have a partner, you can attach the resistance band to a wall or solid outdoor object instead.

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

You can also use a dedicated resistance running system, which is basically a heavyweight resistance band with a belt. One of my favorites is the Victorem Strength 80-LB Training Bungee Band. 

See Also - Do Resistance Bands Build Muscle?

Running With Resistance

2. Plate Push 

A plate push is a great alternative in gyms without a full sled push machine. All you need is a weight plate and a smooth enough floor that you can push along without meeting too much resistance.

Start with the plate flat on the floor and one hand on each side of it. Bend forward with your shoulders and hips leaning forward and your legs ready to push off. Push into the plate until it slides along the floor, and you should start to feel the resistance in your back, arms, and legs.   

A plate push is a good way to work out and especially useful for those without a whole sled. It’s easy to do, and the fact you have to get lower means you engage your back more effectively. If you're trying a sled push alternative for the first time, this is a great exercise to go for. 

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

If you want to add more resistance, you can stack weight plates on top of each other. Just make sure they're lined up before starting.

Read Also - How Many Weight Plates Do I Need?

Plate Push

3. Broad Jumps 

Broad jumps are an effective way to work your quads, calves, hamstrings, and hips in a way that’s similar to a sled push. There’s no equipment required, and you only need a few feet of space to jump in.  

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms up in the air. Next, swing your arms back behind your body and push your hips back. Then, swing your arms forward and push through your feet to explosively jump forward. Land on your feet and then move back into the starting position to repeat it.  

Broad jumps aren’t as good for working out your upper body, but they’re a great way to improve your overall fitness. You'll particularly feel it in your quads, and it's valuable training for anyone. This is an excellent alternative to sled pushes for those working out at home. 

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

This exercise is also a great alternative to box jumps if you don't have a plyometric box at home.

Broad Jumps

4. Walking Lunges  

Walking lunges are a variation of static lunges shown to strengthen your core and lower body. The movement emulates a sled push and gives a lot of the same benefit, but with much less risk of injury because there's no impact. In addition, you don't need any equipment, and you can perform walking lunges in a very limited space.

Start standing up straight with your hands by your sides. Next, step forward with one leg and put the weight into the heel before bending your knee, so it's parallel to the floor. Lower yourself as much as you can and then pause for a second. Next, move your other leg and repeat the same movement. Keep going with the walking lunge for 10-12 reps before resting.

If you're more experienced and want a greater challenge, you can also try adding weights. For example, hold a dumbbell in each hand, and as you lunge forward, take the opposite arm with you. If you're trying to find an alternative to a sled push, then this is best because it engages your upper body as well as your lower.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

If you're struggling to keep your balance, I recommend skipping the added weight and perfecting your form first.

Related Article - 9 Benefits Of Lunges

walking lunges

5. Overhead Walking Lunges 

A popular alternative to the walking lunges is an overhead walking lunge. This is performed in exactly the same way, but you hold two dumbbells above your head as you do it.

You should aim to keep these as steady as possible as your body dips up and down, keeping your arms and back engaged. You may find this coordination difficult at first, so start with light weights and build up to heavier ones.  

The benefit of overhead walking lunges is that they engage your upper body a lot more. They are more challenging to perform, and you'll be out of breath more quickly, but this will help improve your stamina. If you want to challenge yourself, you should upgrade from traditional walking lunges to these.

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

You can also use a short barbell for this exercise as opposed to dumbbells. By holding a barbell overhead, you can focus less on each side of your body and more on the lunge movement.

Read Also - Lunges Vs Split Squats

Overhead Walking Lunges

6. Step-Ups 

Step-ups are often seen in fitness videos and classes, and for good reason. They're an excellent way to raise your heart rate and train your legs and lower torso. They’re also a great alternative to a sled push. To perform step-ups, you’ll need a step in front of you.

Most commercial gyms will have these, but you can also buy them fairly cheaply online. As you become more experienced, you can raise the height and get even more from your training.  

Start with the step directly in front of you. Stand up straight and raise one foot onto the step. Push through with that leg and lift yourself onto the step. Pause for a second and then put the opposite leg back down and lower your body to the floor.

Repeat the movement again but move the other leg up onto the step first. If you find the exercise too easy, you can add resistance by holding a dumbbell in each hand. This will help you tone your arms as you work your legs.  

Step-ups are a simple and practical alternative to sled pushes that can be performed at home or in the gym. If there's no sled push available, this is a useful alternative. 

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

You can also use a plyometric box to perform step-ups. If you really want to up the intensity, hold a dumbbell or kettlebell as you step onto the plyo box.

Suggested Equipment - 9 Best Plyometric Boxes

Step-Ups

7. Mountain Climbers 

Mountain climbers are a favorite for HIIT training sessions and a great way to get your heart racing. The positioning of your body and the movement is very similar to a sled push, so it's a practical bodyweight alternative you can perform at home. All you'll need is you and a space big enough to plank on.  

Start in a raised push up position with both palms and feet on the floor. Engage your core, keep your back flat, and raise one leg bending the knee until it reaches your chest.

Pause for a second and then lower it back to starting position. Repeat the motion with your other leg, alternating for a set period. Performing mountain climbers for 30-60 seconds will help you grow your fitness and condition your body, adding to your functional strength. 

It's difficult to add more resistance to mountain climbers, so you might not get the same burn as you do with sled pushes. However, you don't need any equipment, so it’s a free way to train your body well. 

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

If you want to target your obliques, you can lift your knee and try to touch your elbow. This will activate your obliques give you that desirable V-shape.

Related Article - Does Cardio Burn Muscle?

Mountain Climbers

8. Stairmaster 

Stairmasters have become increasingly popular pieces of gym equipment in the past few years because of the cardio and muscle benefits. 

Most modern commercial gyms have a few Stairmaster machines, but they are often too expensive for a home gym. If your gym doesn’t have a sled to push, then this is often the next best option. Stairmasters are basically just a treadmill that allows you to climb flights of stairs for as long as you want. 

Just like a treadmill, you just have to turn it on and start moving, and the steps have a resistance belt, so with every step, you'll need to use your legs and lower body to push through the movement.

You can customize the resistance to match your ability and increase the intensity as your fitness grows. A Stairmaster won't do much for your upper body, but the benefits to your quads, glutes, and core are impressive. This is an excellent alternative to a sled push and combines cardio and resistance training effectively. 

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

I like to use the Stairmaster as my warm-up machine of choice on leg and back day. I feel it gives me the most effective muscle-stimulating warm-up for my lower body.

Popular Related Article - Stairmaster Vs Treadmill 

Stairmaster

9. Speed Squats 

Squatting is regarded as one of the key compound exercises for building a strong, functional body. Performing it correctly increases your lower body strength and overall fitness, conditioning your body to help with other workouts. Practically every athlete or weightlifter in the world performs squats as part of their training, so there's no doubt about the benefits.

Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing forward. Keep your back straight and bend your knees like you're sitting down in a chair. Try and get your bum as low as possible and then pause for a second before rising back up. 

For speed squats, you should aim to do 30-60 seconds of quick squats before resting. You’ll find that your range of movement improves over time and that you’ll be able to do more squats after a few weeks.   

Speed squats are challenging at first but can give you great results. If you want to grow your legs and improve your fitness without a sled push, then you should try these out.

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

When doing this exercise, I tend to focus a little bit less on form and more on speed. This will really get your muscle fibers fired up.

Also See - Bulgarian Split Squat Substitutes

woman doing a bodyweight squat

10. Treadmill  

Treadmills are one of the most common pieces of home equipment, and over 50 million Americans own one. You can perform lots of different workouts with a treadmill, but you can also use them to mimic the sled push movement.  

To carry out this exercise, you'll need to keep your treadmill turned off because the treadmill belt itself will be your resistance. Place your hands on the back of the control panel and use your legs and feet to push the belt around the base of the unit. This will be challenging at first, but it should start to glide as you get going. Keep your chest down and really push into it to feel the benefit.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

For a real challenge, if your treadmill allows for it, set the incline at about 13.5%. This will really help you work your quads.

Learn More - Different Types Of Treadmills

Man Running on Treadmill in a Gym

Benefits Of Sled Push Substitute Exercises 

A sled push is an exercise built to develop your overall strength. It's a full-body workout that engages all your major muscle groups and is one of the only ways to exert upper and lower body muscles simultaneously. It also helps to get your heart rate racing causing you to burn a lot of calories.  

Sled push exercise, and alternatives, are designed to improve your body's functionality. It will make you faster, stronger, and improve your conditioning. It will also increase your fitness so you can work out harder for longer.  

For these reasons, it's favored by athletes and makes up a core part of their training. It’s also popular with personal trainers, cross-fitters, and those who like HIIT workouts and want to get the most from their workout.

Related Article - Is Strongman Training Good Or Bad?


Sled Pushes Outside The Gym (How To Simulate With No Sled) 

Sled pushes are a functional exercise that helps prepare your body, so it's more functional. There are a few movements and actions outside of the gym which will train your body in the same way and give you similar benefits:   

Push A Car  

Anyone who’s even broken down knows that pushing a car can be challenging. It mimics the sled push movement exactly and gives you all the benefits without the specialist equipment.

Start with your car in neutral and have a friend in there to control the vehicle if needed. Bend at the hips and push the car using your back and leg muscles. Make sure to keep your back flat and always use a flat, even road.

Run Uphill 

Running uphill has been proven to be more beneficial than track running. It forces your legs to push harder and work more to get you up there.

It also makes your heart beat faster as you exert yourself, burning more calories and improving your fitness. You don’t need any equipment, just find a hill with a decent gradient and run up as fast as you can.

Run On Sand 

Running on sand is more challenging than running on the track and makes you work harder. Dry sand will move underneath your feet and give you an uneven surface to push off from, so you have to move faster and put in more effort.

Regular running on sand is part of many athletes' training routines and will have a similar impact to sled pushes. Performing it regularly should make you stronger and faster.

Wind Chute Sprinting 

Wind chute sprinting is really tough and provides similar benefits to a sled push exercise. You'll need to get a small chute (similar to a parachute) and attach it to you via a belt or backpack.

As you start to run, the wind resistance from the chute will start to build, and you'll feel the strain in your back, core, and legs. As you start to slow, the resistance will decrease as the chute deflates.

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People Also Ask (FAQs)

What muscles do sled push alternatives work?  

Sled push alternatives tend to focus on the quads, calves, hamstrings, and hips. They’ll also help you build a strong core, and some will engage your back and arms too to give you a full-body workout. 

Do sled push substitutes burn fat? 

Yes, the alternatives listed above are all designed to raise your heart rate, which will burn calories and fat.

Is it better to mimic the push or pull of a sled? 

The pushing motion of a sled will help you to build speed, whereas the pull will help to build strength. The majority of sled push alternatives will mimic the push motion because it’s more beneficial to overall conditioning and easier to perform. Ideally, you will introduce a range of alternative exercises which copy the push and pull motion of the sled.  


Conclusion

Sled pushes are a great way to train your whole body and improve your speed and strength. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to specific sled push equipment, but there are many ways to mimic the movement inside or outside the gym. Hopefully, this article has given you a few ideas, and you include these exercises in your regular training.

Paul J