The sled push is a powerful tool used in the gym for building full body strength and explosive power. A sled push will bring intensity and variety to your workout.

This equipment requires a lot of space and not all gyms have one, or you might want a sled push alternative at home.

In this guide, I'll introduce some sled push alternative exercises so you too can build power and strength. 

The sled push loads your lower body in a unique way that's going to build leg muscle and strength and carries less risk that compound lifts like squats and deadlifts.

 Not only goes the sled push target the legs, it's also strengthening the upper body due to the pushing movement and engages the core.

The sled is loaded with weight plates to add resistance and can be made lighter or heavier depending on your goals. 

To get the benefits of a sled push without a sled, you need to mimic the movement. Read on for my 10 best sled push variations you can do at home.

1. Running With Resistance 

Man Running With Resistance In Place

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.  

This is a great substitute for sled pushes that required minimal equipment and has great results.


  • Helps develop speed and explosive lower body power.
  • Ideal variation if space is an issue.
  • Builds lower body endurance, great for runners.

How To Run With Resistance:

  1. Loop a resistance band around a rack or a stable surface, or get someone to hold the other end of the band.
  2. Sprint away as hard as you can whilst the band holding you in place.
  3. Go as hard as you can for desired time, go slower to recover and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

You can also use a dedicated resistance running system, which is basically a heavyweight resistance band with a belt.

2. Plate Push 

Man Doing A Plate Push Exercise

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.

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. This is a great substitute for sled push. 


  • Improves sports performance that requires leg drive and sprinting.
  • Increases leg muscle mass.
  • Improves power and speed.

How To Do A Plate Push:

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

Tips From A Trainer!

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

3. Broad Jumps 

Man Doing Broad Jumps Exercise

Broad jumps are an explosive movement that works your quads, calves, hamstrings, and hips in a way that’s similar to a sled push.

This is a good substitute for sled push as there’s no equipment required, and you only need a few feet of space to jump in.  

Broad jumps are 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. 


  • Improves fast twitch fibres, allowing you to generate maximum force.
  • Improves acceleration and perfect for sports performance.
  • Increases cardiovascular fitness.

How To do a Broad Jump:

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

Tips From A Trainer!

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

4. Walking Lunges 

woman performing walking lunges

Walking lunges are a variation of static lunges that strengthen your core and lower body.

The movement emulates sled pushes and gives the same benefit when doing lunges, but with much less risk of injury because there's no impact. 

If you're more experienced and want more stimulus, 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.  


  • Great exercise for improving muscular imbalances.
  • Builds strong legs and glutes.
  • Strengthens the core by challenging balance.

How to do a Walking Lunge:

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

Tips From A Trainer!

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

Related Article - Split Squat Vs Lunge

5. Overhead Walking Lunges 

Woman Doing Overhead Walking Lunges

An advanced 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, or you can do it one side at a time. 

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.


  • Improves stability in the shoulders.
  • Great variation for those who are more advanced, need a challenge and want to incorporate more upper body in this exercise.
  • Builds strong and powerful legs.

How To do a Overhead Walking Lunge:

  1. Start by holding dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand.
  2. Press them overhead and lock out your elbows.
  3. Next, step forward with one leg and put the weight into the heel before bending your knee, so it's parallel to the floor.
  4. Lower your back knee to the floor into a lunge position then drive your foot away from the floor and extend that foot forwards into the next lunge.
  5. Keep going for desired number of reps.

Tips From A Trainer!

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

6. Step-Ups 

Man Doing Step-Ups In The Gym

Step-ups are 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.

As you become more experienced, you can raise the height and get even more from your training.  

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. 


  • Enhances stabilization in the hips.
  • Improves any strength imbalances between the left and right side of the body.
  • Are versatile and can be adapted to all fitness levels. 

how to do a Step-Up:

  1. Start with the step directly in front of you, holding weights if required.
  2. Stand up straight and raise one foot onto the step.
  3. Push through with that leg and lift yourself onto the step.
  4. Pause for a second and then put the opposite leg back down and lower your body to the floor.
  5. Repeat the movement again but move the other leg up onto the step first. 

Tips From A Trainer!

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 - Best Plyometric Boxes Reviewed

7. Mountain Climbers 

Man Doing Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are a favorite for HIIT training sessions and a great way to get increase your heart rate.

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.[1] All you'll need is you and a space big enough to plank on.  

It's difficult to add more resistance to mountain climbers, so you might not get the same burn as you do with sled pushes.


  • Builds a strong core.
  • Increases cardiovascular fitness.
  • Strengthens the hip joint.

how to do a Mountain Climber:

  1. Start in a raised push up position with both palms and feet on the floor. 
  2. Engage your core, hold your upper body position then raise one leg bending the knee until it reaches your chest.
  3. Pause for a second and then lower it back to starting position.
  4. Repeat the motion with your other leg, alternating for a set period. 

Tips From A Trainer!

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?

8. Stairmaster 

Woman Exercising On A Stairmaster

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

You can customize the resistance to match your ability and increase the intensity as your fitness improves. A Stairmaster won't do much for your upper body, but the benefits to your quads, glutes, and core are impressive.[2

This is an excellent alternative to a sled push and combines cardio and resistance training effectively. 


  • Improves cardiovascular health and fitness.
  • Very effective for strengthening the lower body.
  • Improves balance and coordination.

How to do the Stairmaster:

  1. Step on the Stairmaster and start stepping, the machine will automatically start.
  2. With every step, you'll need to use your legs and lower body to push through the movement.
  3. Set the desired resistance and workout time.

Tips From A Trainer!

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 

9. Speed Squats 

woman doing a bodyweight speed squat

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.

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.[3]


  • Increases fast twitch muscle fibers for more explosive power. 
  • Enhances overall athletic performance.
  • Promotes fantastic strength development and increased caloric burn. 

How To do a Speed Squat:

  1. Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing forward. 
  2. Keep your back straight and bend your knees and hips at the same time, descending into a squat position.
  3. Try and get your bum as low as possible and then pause for a second before rising back up. 
  4. Repeat for desired reps or time, aiming for 30-60 seconds before resting.

Tips From A Trainer!

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. 

10. Treadmill 

Man Running on Treadmill in a Gym

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 sled pushes by setting the resistance high.

Suggested Equipment - 10 Best Affordable Treadmills For Home Use


  • Increases cardiovascular fitness and improves heart health.
  • Can be used for sprinting or endurance.
  • You can modify the resistance and incline to suit what you are wanting to target. 

How to do the Treadmill:

  1. To carry out this exercise, you'll need to keep your treadmill turned off because the treadmill belt itself will be your resistance. 
  2. 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.
  3. This will be challenging at first, but it should start to glide as you get going.
  4. Keep your chest down and really push into it to feel the benefit.  

Tips From A Trainer!

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

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.

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.

Common Sled Push Questions

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.  


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.

Try one of these sled push variations to bring intensity to your next workout. 





Jo Taylor

Jo Taylor

Hi, I’m Jo. I love sunrise swims, cold water immersion and cats. I have been dedicated to strength training for the past 14 years. I became a qualified Personal Trainer in 2020, and am passionate about helping my clients get stronger. Visit Jo Taylors Website