Sleds are Awesome
A weighted sled is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can own. You can use it to build lower and upper body power, preserve strength and increase blood-flow through concentric-only work on recovery days, increase grip strength, and as a ruthless conditioning tool. Basically, sleds are awesome. The good people at elitefts.com offer a wide selection of sleds and prowlers, but unfortunately even the most basic of these models will run up a sizable bill (especially after you pay for tow handles, a harness, plates to load it with, etc…). Bummer.
Tire Sleds are Awesome. And Cheap.
Tire sleds are great because the tire itself is free (get it used from a local tire shop) and the rest of the equipment is relatively cheap from the hardware store. I spent a some time during the last couple weeks tinkering with tire sled designs for the sports teams at Providence Hall High School where I coach. They wanted two sleds that could be dragged with either handles or a harness and loaded with plates. The following is what I came up with.
[picture of final sled]
- 1 used tire
- 2 ft x 2 ft – 3 ft x 3 ft of steel weld wire fence (chicken wire might work)
- 1 eyebolt
- 1 large diameter washer
- 4 1 1/2″ bolts
- 5 nuts
- 5 locking rings
- 1 ft of 1 1/4″ PVC pipe
- 2 strong caribiners
- 1 steel ring
- about 20′ of 1′ high-tensile strength nylon webbing
- Duct tape
- Cordless drill
- Hacksaw (or anything else that cuts PVC)
- Metal file
- Wire clippers
The Tire Sled
Set your tire vertically and locate a spot in the center of the tread. Ideally it will fall in a groove so you dont have to drill through too much rubber. You will have use a bit much bigger than the diameter of your eyebolt, and there is also some wire mesh to drill through. Just keep drilling until you can thred the eyebolt. I left the hole pretty snug so it took some leverage to fully screw the eyebolt in. Now lay the tire on its side and secure the eyebolt with the washer, lock ring, and nut, in that order.
Now measure the diameter of the hole in your tire (where the rim was ), add 2-3 inches to it (depending on how large the tire is), and cut the weld wire fencing in a square to match that length. For example, if the diameter of the hole is 15 inches, cut a 17×17 inch square of fence.
Next drill 4 evenly-spaced holes around the inner edge of the tire, about 1-3 inches out from the very edge. Some tires are thicker toward the inner edge so plan accordingly. Once you have the four holes, stick the bolts through them and lay the tire down so the bolts are sticking straight up and into the tire. Shove your wire fencing down into the tire, position one corner over each bolt, and secure it with a washer, ring, and nut. This can be tricky–just make sure that the mesh is stretched taught over the opening to prevent sagging, dragging, and breaking as time goes on.
*note: after several weeks of use, the mesh stretched enough that it dragged on the pavement and started to tear. I would advise using either multiple layers of wire, or wire of a thicker gauge. Alternatively you can just cut the top off the tire and throw some plywood in–I just don’t have knife sharp enough for the task since these tires have metal threads.
Cut two 4 1/2 to 6 inch lengths of PVC pipe and file down the rough edges until smooth (especially the inner edge as it can catch on the webbing). The bigger your hands, the longer your… handles. Set these aside for later.
The strapping that you will use to tow the sled has two parts. Part 1 has handles, and part 2 is just a length of webbing with carabiners knotted to both ends. In the end you will connect Part 1 to Part 2, and Part 2 to the tire (sorry if that’s confusing).
Part 1: Cut a 7 foot long length of webbing use the lighter to singe both ends. Do this to prevent fraying of the cut edge. Now thread one end through a handle, loop the webbing back on itself, pinch both strands and make a loop, then pull the handle through the loop to tie a knot. I searched for 15 minutes to find the name of this knot but couldn’t. If you know the name, tell me in the comments section 🙂
Slide your steel ring onto the webbing from the other side before repeating the process with the second handle. The second handle is a bit trickier because you have to thread the first handle through the knot, but with a bit of finagling it works.
Part 2: Now cut a 12-14 foot length of webbing and singe both ends. I originally used an 11 foot length but found that after tying knots it wasn’t as long as I would have liked. The longer it is the more horizontal the pulling angle will be when you drag the sled. This is most important when using a harness (described in a later post). Secure a carabiner to each end using 2 overhand knots. That’s what I used, but if you’re a knot type, you probably know of a better one. I like to secure the knots with tightly wound duct tape to prevent slipping and loosening.
Take everything out to the street or a nearby park, attach the straps and handles, add weight to the tire (dumbbells, kettlebells, plates, bricks, rock, sandbags, small children, etc…), and tow away!