Treadmill Pushes and Pulls: 2 Great Alternatives of a Sled

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Sled pushes/pulls are an essential tool in many strength and endurance athletes’ routines.

However, many commercial gyms may not be equipped with a sled.

Do not fret, because most gyms have a piece of equipment that can mimic a sled for both variations, and provide the same benefits.

These are treadmill pushes and pulls.

With both of these movements, the treadmill will not be turned on.

All movement of the treadmill belt will come from the user’s applied force.

Treadmill Pushes

Treadmill Pushes

Adding in treadmill pushes at the beginning of your workout is a great way to get warmed up, create blood flow, and can be a workout in itself.

Likewise, add them in at the end of your workout for a brutal burnout to end with or cool down.

These are performed with forwarding momentum.

The Sled Push Alternative Treadmill benefits:

If you’re a strength athlete, bodybuilder, runner, or an avid fitness person.

Then pushes, either with a sled or a treadmill have some major benefits, including:

  1. Increased muscular endurance and conditioning (specifically anaerobic)
  2. Upper body activation (chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abdomen)
  3. Lower body activation and mobility (hamstrings, hips, quadriceps, calves, ankles, glutes)
  4. Increased explosiveness

Another thing to note is that sled/treadmill pushes don’t put any extra weight directly onto the individual performing the movement.

For instance, in a sled push, the weight is attached to the sled.

With a treadmill push, you will only be fighting the resistance of the treadmill.

Even if you do decide to attach weight, there are plenty of indirect ways to do so.

Working with indirect weight/resistance will have a lower impact on joints while still sparking muscular contraction and fatigue.

Here are some ways to add extra weight or resistance:

  1. Ankle weights (this is a more direct weight)
  2. Put the treadmill to an incline elevation
  3. Attach a resistance band to your waist and anchor it onto the ground, or have someone hold the other end

How To Do Treadmill Sled Pushes

With this movement, it’s important to be prepared mentally and physically once you’re ready to start.

Because it may be a shock when you take those first two steps and realize that the resistance is much higher than you thought.

The thing to understand is that the first couple of steps is usually the hardest.

But once you build up that initial momentum it’s much easier to stay going, at least to a certain extent.

Below are some pointers to keep in mind involving preparation, execution, and ending the treadmill push:

  1. Use knee and leg drive
  2. Apply a great enough force to get the belt moving
  3. Brace your core throughout the movement
  4. A good way to brace is by holding your breath if possible
  5. Lean forward into the treadmill handles
  6. Step with the ball of the feet
  7. Hold your head facing toward the ground
  8. When you want to stop, slowly decrease your pacing. Stopping abruptly may lead to injury.
  9. The treadmill will be powered off for this movement, but if you’re having a tough time moving the belt try turning it onto a slow pace to assist
Treadmill Push Video Demonstration

Treadmill Sled Push Workout

Below are a few variations for a sled push treadmill workout.

  1. 6×60 paces
  2. 6×30 paces
  3. 3×60 paces
  4. 3×30 paces

Counting paces during the movement is a good way to track the distance.

These can be tough workouts.

So if you’re new to doing them or if your treadmill belt has high resistance, start small and build up.

Treadmill Pulls

Treadmill Pulls

Like the pushes, treadmill pulls are a great anaerobic exercise to engage a variety of muscles.

This movement is done using backward momentum.

Some of the muscles involved in this exercise include:

  1. Hamstrings
  2. Quadriceps (worked harder than the hammies due to emphasis on knee extension)
  3. Calves
  4. Hips
  5. Upper body engagement (forearms, shoulders, back)

This one works especially well at burning out the quadriceps along with engaging the hamstrings.

There is no direct weight resistance with these either so joint impact and CNS impact may be lessened.

For adding extra resistance:

  1. Putting the treadmill to an incline
  2. Wearing ankle weights or
  3. Using a resistance band and anchoring it in front are all viable options.

How To Do Treadmill Sled Pulls

Here are some tips to maximize the treadmill pulls.

  1. Firmly grip the handles with your arms straightened out
  2. Be ready to apply heavy force to get the treadmill belt moving
  3. Brace your core
  4. Use a ball-to-heel foot sequence
  5. Point your toes slightly outward
Treadmill Pulls Video Demonstration

Treadmill Pull Workout

Be sure to start with a comfortable set and pace scheme.

Let the body and muscles get used to this type of resistance and motion.

Here are some pace and set schemes to try out:

  1. 6×60 paces
  2. 6×30 paces
  3. 3×30 paces
  4. 3×60 paces

When To Incorporate Treadmill Sled Push and Pulls

For optimal performance benefits, both the treadmill push and pulls should be incorporated into one’s training plan at least 1 to 2 days per week.

As the athlete gets stronger, consider upping the frequency and volume per week.

Base it all on the feel, as these are exhausting movements.

Doing them separately or within the same workout are both viable options.

However, if done together, consider cutting down the sets and paces of each.

Doing them on lower body days, such as squats or deadlift days is my favorite as it gets my quadriceps, hamstrings, and hips warm and ready to go.

Give these two variations a try and reap the benefits that come with them!

Thanks for reading…

Stay Wild!


Eric De Cremer
Eric De Cremer

Eric is an NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer and competitively trained powerlifter. Feel free to contact him anytime at!