The Effectiveness of Resisted Sled Training (RST) for Sprint Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
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.
- 8.Alexander RM. Mechanics of skeleton and tendons. Handbook of physiology—the nervous system. Am Physiol Soc. 1981;2:17–42.Google Scholar
- 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
- 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.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
- 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.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
- 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
- 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
- 52.Cohen J. Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (revised ed.). New York: Academic; 1977.Google Scholar
- 54.Higgins JP, Green S. Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. New York: Wiley; 2011.Google Scholar
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.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.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.Siff M, Verkhoshansky Y. Supertraining. Denver: Supertraining Institute; 2003.Google Scholar