Sports Medicine

, Volume 48, Issue 9, pp 2143–2165 | Cite as

The Effectiveness of Resisted Sled Training (RST) for Sprint Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

  • Pedro E. AlcarazEmail author
  • Jorge Carlos-Vivas
  • Bruno O. Oponjuru
  • Alejandro Martínez-RodríguezEmail author
Systematic Review



Sprinting is key in the development and final results of competitions in a range of sport disciplines, both individual (e.g., athletics) and team sports. Resisted sled training (RST) might provide an effective training method to improve sprinting, in both the acceleration and the maximum-velocity phases. However, substantial discrepancies exist in the literature regarding the influence of training status and sled load prescription in relation to the specific components of sprint performance to be developed and the phase of sprint.


Our objectives were to review the state of the current literature on intervention studies that have analyzed the effects of RST on sprint performance in both the acceleration and the maximum-velocity phases in healthy athletes and to establish which RST load characteristics produce the largest improvements in sprint performance.


We performed a literature search in PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science up to and including 9 January 2018. Peer-reviewed studies were included if they met all the following eligibility criteria: (1) published in a scientific journal; (2) original experimental and longitudinal study; (3) participants were at least recreationally active and towed or pulled the sled while running at maximum intensity; (4) RST was one of the main training methods used; (5) studies identified the load of the sled, distance covered, and sprint time and/or sprint velocity for both baseline and post-training results; (6) sprint performance was measured using timing gates, radar gun, or stopwatch; (7) published in the English language; and (8) had a quality assessment score > 6 points.


A total of 2376 articles were found. After filtering procedures, only 13 studies were included in this meta-analysis. In the included studies, 32 RST groups and 15 control groups were analyzed for sprint time in the different phases and full sprint. Significant improvements were found between baseline and post-training in sprint performance in the acceleration phase (effect size [ES] 0.61; p = 0.0001; standardized mean difference [SMD] 0.57; 95% confidence interval [CI] − 0.85 to − 0.28) and full sprint (ES 0.36; p = 0.009; SMD 0.38; 95% CI − 0.67 to − 0.10). However, non-significant improvements were observed between pre- and post-test in sprint time in the maximum-velocity phase (ES 0.27; p = 0.25; SMD 0.18; 95% CI − 0.49 to 0.13). Furthermore, studies that included a control group found a non-significant improvement in participants in the RST group compared with the control group, independent of the analyzed phase.


RST is an effective method to improve sprint performance, specifically in the early acceleration phase. However, it cannot be said that this method is more effective than the same training without overload. The effect of RST is greatest in recreationally active or trained men who practice team sports such as football or rugby. Moreover, the intensity (load) is not a determinant of sprint performance improvement, but the recommended volume is > 160 m per session, and approximately 2680 m per total training program, with a training frequency of two to three times per week, for at least 6 weeks. Finally, rigid surfaces appear to enhance the effect of RST on sprint performance.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

Pedro E. Alcaraz, Jorge Carlos-Vivas, Bruno O. Oponjuru, and Alejandro Martínez-Rodríguez have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.


  1. 1.
    Faude O, Koch T, Meyer T. Straight sprinting is the most frequent action in goal situations in professional football. J Sports Sci. 2012;30(7):625–31.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Haugen TA, Tønnessen E, Seiler S. Speed and countermovement-jump characteristics of elite female soccer players, 1995–2010. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2012;7(4):340–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Haugen TA, Tønnessen E, Seiler S. Anaerobic performance testing of professional soccer players 1995–2010. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2013;8(2):148–56.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Vescovi JD. Impact of maximum speed on sprint performance during high-level youth female field hockey matches: Female Athletes in Motion (FAiM) study. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2014;9(4):621–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Mann RA, Hagy J. Biomechanics of walking, running, and sprinting. Am J Sports Med. 1980;8(5):345–50.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Young W, Benton D, Duthie G, Pryor J. Resistance training for short sprints and maximum-speed sprints. Strength Cond J. 2001;23(2):7–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mero A, Komi P, Gregor R. Biomechanics of sprint running. A review. Sports Med. 1992;13(6):376–92.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Alexander RM. Mechanics of skeleton and tendons. Handbook of physiology—the nervous system. Am Physiol Soc. 1981;2:17–42.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Rabita G, Dorel S, Slawinski J, Saez-de-Villarreal E, Couturier A, Samozino P, et al. Sprint mechanics in world-class athletes: a new insight into the limits of human locomotion. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2015;25(5):583–94.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mero A, Komi PV. Force-, EMG-, and elasticity-velocity relationships at submaximal, maximal and supramaximal running speeds in sprinters. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1986;55(5):553–61.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Delecluse C. Influence of strength training on sprint running performance. Sports Med. 1997;24(3):147–56.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Weyand PG, Sandell RF, Prime DNL, Bundle MW. The biological limits to running speed are imposed from the ground up. J Appl Physiol. 2010;108(4):950–61.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Weyand PG, Sternlight DB, Bellizzi MJ, Wright S. Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid leg movements. J Appl Physiol. 2000;89(5):1991–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Clark KP, Weyand PG. Are running speeds maximized with simple-spring stance mechanics? J Appl Physiol. 2014;117(6):604–15.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    DeWeese BH, Bellon C, Magrum E, Taber CB, Suchomel TJ. Strengthening the springs: improving sprint performance via strength training. Track Tech. 2016;9(3):8–20.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Nagahara R, Mizutani M, Matsuo A, Kanehisa H, Fukunaga T. Step-to-step spatiotemporal variables and ground reaction forces of intra-individual fastest sprinting in a single session. J Sports Sci. 2017;36(12):1392–401.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Nagahara R, Mizutani M, Matsuo A, Kanehisa H, Fukunaga T. Association of sprint performance with ground reaction forces during acceleration and maximal speed phases in a single sprint. J Appl Biomech. 2017;34:104–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Dalleau G, Belli A, Bourdin M, Lacour J-R. The spring-mass model and the energy cost of treadmill running. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1998;77(3):257–63.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Voigt M, Bojsen-Møller F, Simonsen EB, Dyhre-Poulsen P. The influence of tendon Youngs modulus, dimensions and instantaneous moment arms on the efficiency of human movement. J Biomech. 1995;28(3):281–91.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Plisk SS. Speed, agility, and speed-endurance development. In: Baechle TR, Earle RW, editors. National strength and conditioning association: essentials of strength training & conditioning. 2nd ed. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics; 2000. p. 471–91.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    MacDougall D, Sale D. Continuous vs. interval training: a review for the athlete and the coach. Can J Appl Sport Sci. 1981;6(2):93–7.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Iacono AD, Martone D, Milic M, Padulo J. Vertical-vs. horizontal-oriented drop jump training: Chronic effects on explosive performances of elite handball players. J Strength Cond Res. 2017;31(4):921–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Rumpf MC, Lockie RG, Cronin JB, Jalilvand F. Effect of different sprint training methods on sprint performance over various distances: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(6):1767–85.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Freitas TT, Martinez-Rodriguez A, Calleja-González J, Alcaraz PE. Short-term adaptations following complex training in team-sports: a meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017;12(6):e0180223.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Seitz LB, Reyes A, Tran TT, de Villarreal ES, Haff GG. Increases in lower-body strength transfer positively to sprint performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2014;44(12):1693–702.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hill A. The heat of shortening and the dynamic constants of muscle. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1938;126(843):136–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hill A, Long C, Lupton H. The effect of fatigue on the relation between work and speed, in contraction of human arm muscles. J Physiol. 1924;58(4–5):334–7.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Cormie P, McGuigan MR, Newton RU. Developing maximal neuromuscular power part 2-training considerations for improving maximal power production. Sports Med. 2011;41(2):125–46.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Randell AD, Cronin JB, Keogh JWL, Gill ND. Transference of strength and power adaptation to sports performance-horizontal and vertical force production. Strength Cond J. 2010;32(4):100–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Haff GG, Nimphius S. Training principles for power. Strength Cond J. 2012;34(6):2–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Alcaraz PE, Palao JM, Elvira JLL, Linthorne NP. Effects of three types of resisted sprint training devices on the kinematics of sprinting at maximum velocity. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(3):890–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kawamori N, Newton R, Nosaka K. Effects of weighted sled towing on ground reaction force during the acceleration phase of sprint running. J Sports Sci. 2014;32(12):1139–45.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Brown SC, Craik FI. Encoding and retrieval of information. In: Tulving E, Craik FIM, editors. The Oxford handbook of memory. 2000. p. 93–107.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Haff GG, Stone MH. Methods of developing power with special reference to football players. Strength Cond J. 2015;37(6):2–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Alcaraz PE, Palao JM, Elvira JL. Determining the optimal load for resisted sprint training with sled towing. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(2):480–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Jakalski K. The pros and cons of using resisted and assisted training methods with high school sprinters: parachutes, tubing and towing. Track Coach. 1998;144:4585–9.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Lockie RG, Murphy AJ, Spinks CD. Effects of resisted sled towing on sprint kinematics in field-sport athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2003;17(4):760–7.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Cottle CA, Carlson LA, Lawrence MA. Effects of sled towing on sprint starts. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(5):1241–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Kawamori N, Newton RU, Hori N, Nosaka K. Effects of weighted sled towing with heavy versus light load on sprint acceleration ability. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(10):2738–45.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Monte A, Nardello F, Zamparo P. Sled towing: the optimal overload for peak power production. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016;12(8):1052–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Cross MR, Brughelli M, Samozino P, Brown SR, Morin J-B. Optimal loading for maximising power during sled-resisted sprinting. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2017;12(8):1069–77.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Samozino P, Rabita G, Dorel S, Slawinski J, Peyrot N, Saez de Villarreal E, et al. A simple method for measuring power, force, velocity properties, and mechanical effectiveness in sprint running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2016;26(6):648–58.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Cronin JB, Hansen K, Kawamori N, McNair P. Effects of weighted vests and sled towing on sprint kinematics. Sports Biomech. 2008;7(2):160–72.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Maulder PS, Bradshaw EJ, Keogh JWL. Kinematic alterations due to different loading schemes in early acceleration sprint performance from starting blocks. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(6):1992–2002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Martinez-Valencia MA, Romero-Arenas S, Elvira JLL, Gonzalez-Rave JM, Navarro-Valdivielso F, Alcaraz PE. Effects of sled towing on peak force, the rate of force development and sprint performance during the acceleration phase. J Hum Kinet. 2015;46(1):139–48.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Linthorne NP, Cooper JE. Effect of the coefficient of friction of a running surface on sprint time in a sled-towing exercise. Sports Biomech. 2013;12(2):175–85.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Petrakos G, Morin JB, Egan B. Resisted sled sprint training to improve sprint performance: A systematic review. Sports Med. 2016;46(3):381–400.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG, Prisma G. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. PLoS Med. 2009;6(7):e1000097.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Bhogal SK, Teasell RW, Foley NC, Speechley MR. The PEDro scale provides a more comprehensive measure of methodological quality than the Jadad scale in stroke rehabilitation literature. J Clin Epidemiol. 2005;58(7):668–73.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    de Morton NA. The PEDro scale is a valid measure of the methodological quality of clinical trials: a demographic study. Aust J Physiother. 2009;55(2):129–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Maher CG, Sherrington C, Herbert RD, Moseley AM, Elkins M. Reliability of the PEDro scale for rating quality of randomized controlled trials. Phys Ther. 2003;83(8):713–21.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Cohen J. Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (revised ed.). New York: Academic; 1977.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Hopkins W, Marshall S, Batterham A, Hanin J. Progressive statistics for studies in sports medicine and exercise science. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(1):3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Higgins JP, Green S. Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. New York: Wiley; 2011.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Zafeiridis A, Saraslanidis P, Manou V, Ioakimidis P, Dipla K, Kellis S. The effects of resisted sled-pulling sprint training on acceleration and maximum speed performance. J Sports Med Phys Fit. 2005;45(3):284–90.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Spinks CD, Murphy AJ, Spinks WL, Lockie RG. The effects of resisted sprint training on acceleration performance and kinematics in soccer, rugby union, and Australian football players. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21(1):77–85.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Harrison AJ, Bourke G. The effect of resisted sprint training on speed and strength performance in male rugby players. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(1):275–83.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Clark KP, Stearne DJ, Walts CT, Miller AD. The longitudinal effects of resisted sprint training using weighted sleds vs weighted vests. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(12):3287–95.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Lockie RG, Murphy AJ, Schultz AB, Knight TJ, de Jonge XAKJ. The effects of different speed training protocols on sprint acceleration kinematics and muscle strength and power in field sport athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(6):1539–50.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Makaruk B, Sozański H, Makaruk H, Sacewicz T. The effects of resisted sprint training on speed performance in women. Hum Mov Sci. 2013;14(2):116–22.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    West DJ, Cunningham DJ, Bracken RM, Bevan HR, Crewther BT, Cook CJ, et al. Effects of resisted training on acceleration in professional rugby union players. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(4):1014–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Alcaraz PE, Elvira JLL, Palao JM. Kinematic, strength, and stiffness adaptations after a short-term sled towing training in athletes. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014;24(2):279–90.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Bachero-Mena B, Gonzalez-Badillo JJ. Effects of resisted sprint training on acceleration with three different loads accounting for 5, 12.5, and 20% of body mass. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(10):2954–60.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Luteberget LS, Raastad T, Seynnes O, Spencer M. Effect of traditional and resisted sprint training in highly trained female team handball players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015;10(5):642–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    de Hoyo M, Gonzalo-Skok O, Sañudo B, Carrascal C, Plaza-Armas JR, Camacho-Candil F, et al. Comparative effects of in-season full-back squat, resisted sprint training, and plyometric training on explosive performance in U-19 elite soccer players. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(2):368–77.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Morin JB, Petrakos G, Jimenez-Reyes P, Brown SR, Samozino P, Cross MR. Very-heavy sled training for improving horizontal force output in soccer players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016;12(6):840–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Ross A, Leveritt M, Riek S. Neural influences on sprint running. Sports Med. 2001;31(6):409–25.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Van Hooren B, Bosch F. Is there really an eccentric action of the hamstrings during the swing phase of high-speed running? part I: a critical review of the literature. J Sports Sci. 2017;35(23):2313–21.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Van Hooren B, Bosch F. Is there really an eccentric action of the hamstrings during the swing phase of high-speed running? Part II: implications for exercise. J Sports Sci. 2017;35(23):2322–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Reeves ND, Narici MV. Behavior of human muscle fascicles during shortening and lengthening contractions in vivo. J Appl Physiol. 2003;95(3):1090–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Ettema G. Mechanical efficiency and efficiency of storage and release of series elastic energy in skeletal muscle during stretch-shorten cycles. J Exp Biol. 1996;199(9):1983–97.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Nagano A, Komura T, Fukashiro S. Effects of the length ratio between the contractile element and the series elastic element on an explosive muscular performance. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2004;14(2):197–203.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    Comfort P, Bullock N, Pearson SJ. A comparison of maximal squat strength and 5-, 10-, and 20-meter sprint times, in athletes and recreationally trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(4):937–40.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    McLean B. Biomechanics of running. In: Hawley JA, editor. Handbook of sports medicine and science: running. John Wiley & Sons; 2008. p. 28–43.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Schmidtbleicher D. Strength training: part 2: structural analysis of motor strength qualities and its application to training. Sci Period Res Tech Sport. 1985;4:1–10.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Schmidtbleicher D. Strength training: part 1: structural analysis of motor strength qualities and its application to training. Sci Period Res Tech Sport. 1985;4:1–12.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Siff M, Verkhoshansky Y. Supertraining. Denver: Supertraining Institute; 2003.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Farley CT, Gonzalez O. Leg stiffness and stride frequency in human running. J Biomech. 1996;29(2):181–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. 79.
    Brughelli M, Cronin J. A review of research on the mechanical stiffness in running and jumping: methodology and implications. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2008;18(4):417–26.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  80. 80.
    Kraemer WJ, Adams K, Cafarelli E, Dudley GA, Dooly C, Feigenbaum MS, American College of Sports Medicine position stand, et al. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;34(2):364–80.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. 81.
    Barnes C, Archer D, Hogg B, Bush M, Bradley P. The evolution of physical and technical performance parameters in the English Premier League. Int J Sports Med. 2014;35(13):1095–100.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  82. 82.
    Bolger R, Lyons M, Harrison AJ, Kenny IC. Sprinting performance and resistance-based training interventions: a systematic review. J Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(4):1146–56.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018
corrected publication July/2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCAM Research Center for High Performance SportCatholic University of MurciaMurciaSpain
  2. 2.Faculty of Sport Sciences, UCAMCatholic University of MurciaMurciaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Analytical Chemistry, Nutrition and Food Sciences, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of AlicanteAlicanteSpain

Personalised recommendations