HYROX Sled Pull Guide: Ultimate Tips and Tactics!

Picture of a determined male athlete conquering the Hyrox Sled Pull challenge with sheer strength and determination

New to HYROX or a seasoned event finisher and looking for an extra edge?

There’s much more to sled pulls than pulling a rope for what seems like an eternity.

Want to arm yourself with killer insight?

Dive in to discover the 9 insights that will maximise your output. Let’s get pulling!

1. What is the HYROX Sled Pull

The HYROX Sled Pull is a 50m pull split over 4 x 12.5m pulls. It’s the 3rd workstation in the HYROX race format. By the time you get to the Sled Pulls you will have completed 3x1km runs, 1000m Ski Erg and 50m (4 x12.5m) Sled Push.

Once you complete the Sled Pull you have 5 x 1km runs, 80m Burpee Broad Jumps, 1000m Rowing, 200m Kettlebell Farmers Carry, 100m Sandbag Lunges and 75-100 x Wall Balls left to complete.

The Official Sled Pull used in HYROX Races

HYROX Equipment - HYROX Sled Pull rope with 3m yellow markings

HYROX Sled Pull Rope

15m long with Yellow markings every 3 meters

The official Sled used in HYROX competition

HYROX Sled

Sled used in all HYROX races.

Length – 102 cm / 40.2 in, Width – 60 cm / 23.6 in

2. HYROX Sled Pull Weights by Category

The Weights and Distance

Singles

Distance 4 x 12.5 m

WOMEN 78 kg incl. Sled

WOMEN PRO / MEN 103 kg incl. Sled

MEN PRO 153 kg incl. Sled

Doubles

Distance 4 x 12.5 m

WOMEN 78 kg incl. Sled

MEN 103 kg incl.

Sled MIXED 103 kg incl. Sled

For more info visit Hyrox.com

Movement Standards

• Sled and athlete must be positioned completely behind the line prior to beginning. 

• Once the athlete pulls the entire sled passed the 12.5 m mark, the athlete switches sides and pulls the sled back 

• At all times, the athlete must remain standing, it’s not allowed to pull the sled sitting or kneeling 

• At all times, the athlete must remain between the designated lines the so called Athlete’s Box and is not allowed to overstep these lines while pulling the sled. 

• During the pull, the athlete must make sure that his/her rope remains on their lane and that it is not in the way of the neighbouring lanes. 

• As soon as the athlete completes 4x 12.5 meters and the entire sled passes the start/finish line the station is completed 

• If the athlete violates any of the above mentioned points, the pull becomes invalid and in the second warning the athlete receives a 5 m distance penalty that he/she has to pull back him/herself. 

• If the athlete completes less than four lanes, a penalty of 3 minutes per missing lane will be awarded. 

Added Rule for Doubles Only

The resting partner remains behind the working partner and is not allowed to “help out“ with the rope or touch it.

3. Average HYROX Sled Pull Times

If you don’t prepare properly for the Sled Pull it can sap your energy and slow your HYROX race.

During the 2022/23 HYROX Season the average Sled Pull Times for each category were;

Womens Open: 05:57 mins

Womens Pro: 06:06 mins

Mens Open: 05:01 mins

Mens Pro: 06:17 mins

Womens Doubles: 04:04 mins

Mens Doubles: 03:00 mins

The master tips below will help you perfect your technique and energy efficiency to Smash through this element of your HYROX race.

Data Courtesy of https://www.theroxzone.com

4. The Correct Technique to Train for HYROX Sled Pulls

Stance and Grip

Start with a stance that is slightly wider than your shoulder width, planting your feet firmly on the ground to establish a solid base. When gripping the rope, your hold should be strong but flexible.

Hold the rope at waist height, keeping your arms engaged but not stiff. Footwear plays a big role in maintaining stability; if you haven’t found the right pair for you yet, take a look at our HYROX Trainer Review.

The Initiation

Before the pull begins, stand upright, ensuring your hips and knees are fully extended. Grasp the rope firmly and maintain a straight back, as you prepare for the initial pull. Remember, the inception should be a marriage of technique and power, not a brute force attempt.

The Pull Phase

As you start pulling, engage your core and lower body muscles actively. Your movements should be smooth, applying a consistent force that utilises the strength of your glutes and hamstrings in harmony with your back muscles. It’s a continuous, rhythmic, yet powerful motion.

The Sustained Pull

In the sustained pulling phase, maintain a rhythmic and steady pace, coordinating your upper and lower body to generate a continuous force. It’s essential to keep a strong core to support your lower back, integrating the full power of your body into the pull.

Recovery and Regrip

As you progress, there will be moments to regrip and realign. It’s crucial to do this seamlessly, not losing the rhythm, ensuring a tight grip that avoids any slack and maintains the momentum so no energy is lost.

Safety First

Despite the adrenaline rush of pulling with all your might, it’s important to maintain the correct form. Be conscious of your back alignment and the grip on the rope, ensuring a technique that prevents injury.

Referee’s Role

In competitive settings, the referee will check movement standards and rules aren’t broken, including checking the sled fully passes the 12.5m line each time.

5. How to Train for the HYROX Sled Pull Without a Sled

If you don’t have a sled available for your training, don’t worry, we have you covered with exercises that can mimic the movements and build the strength required:

1. Manual Treadmill Walking: Unplug a treadmill and walk backwards on it. This mimics the resistance you’d get from a sled pull and provides whole-body tension. It’s excellent for building lactic acid tolerance as your legs power the belt, and you can vary the intensity with intervals or use it as a finisher in your workout​​.

2. Tyre Drags: Tie a rope around a tyre and practise pulling it backwards. You can increase the resistance by adding weights on top of the tyre and vary the distances you pull to build resistance.

3. Resistance Training: Engage in resistance workouts that target the same muscle groups as sled pulls. Sissy squats and lunges, for instance, are great for quadriceps, calf muscles, and your glutes. Add a weighted vest to increase the challenge or try running backward to simulate the pull resistance​​ on your legs. Seated row with a close grip helps build your upper body strength for the Sled Pull.

4. Alternative Movement Patterns: Consider resistance band crab walks to target your inner and outer thigh muscles. For quadriceps isolation, leg extensions with resistance bands or weights can provide a focused workout. And don’t forget about backward squat walks, which engage your lower body similar to sled pulls​​.

5. Bodyweight Exercises: Incorporate bodyweight exercises such as bear crawls, which provide intense core work. These can be done anywhere and require no equipment at all​​.

Implementing the Training:

Start by incorporating these exercises into your weekly routine. Aim for consistency and gradually increase the weight and duration to build up the strength and endurance required to smash the sled pull.

Keep an eye on the elite performance times to see how you compare to the very best.

Remember, it’s not about the equipment; it’s about the movement and the muscles involved.

6. Common Mistakes in HYROX Sled Pulls

A sled with a prominent red cross over it, symbolizing common mistakes to avoid in sled pulls

Insufficient Pull Depth A tiny pull won’t get the job done. It’s vital to pull the rope from a substantial distance to effectively engage the target muscles. Half-hearted pulls will not only reduce the exercise’s efficacy but can also pave the way to muscle imbalances and injuries over time.

Improper Stance Stance is everything; it’s your foundation. Your stance should be firm and stable, with feet firmly planted wider than your shoulders. A narrow stance will leave you unstable and reduce your pulling power, while a too-wide stance can restrict your movement and impede your rhythm.

Erratic Pulling Much like attempting to cook without a recipe, pulling without control can lead to disaster. Yanking the rope without a steady rhythm can cause increased fatigue and result in a less effective workout. Steady and rhythmic pulls are the key to success here.

Overextending the Back Imagine your back is like royalty; it needs to remain upright and dignified at all times. Overarching the back can lead to ineffective pulls and invite injuries down the line. Keeping the back straight and core engaged allows for better energy transference.

Neglecting the Grip You wouldn’t shake someone’s hand with a weak grip, would you? Likewise, maintaining a strong yet flexible grip on the rope is crucial. A lax grip will lead to the rope slipping, and breaking your rhythm.

Ignoring the Breathing Pattern Breathing is like the unsung hero of any exercise. Maintain a consistent breathing pattern, inhaling and exhaling rhythmically to fuel your muscles efficiently.

Underutilising the Hips Hips play a vital role in generating power during the pull. Engaging your hips effectively will grant the additional force needed, helping you power through the pulls.

7. HYROX Sled Pull Tips and Tricks

Gripping Technique When it comes to gripping the rope, think precision and control. Employ a grip that is both firm and allows for quick re-grasping as you pull the rope hand over hand, bringing the sled towards you. Ensure your hands are evenly spaced to facilitate a balanced pull, mitigating the risk of veering off course.

Smooth Transitions Between Pulls Seamlessness is key in transitioning between pulls. Focus on cultivating a rhythmic flow, coordinating your hand and foot movements to foster a continuous, unbroken chain of motions. This fluidity can significantly enhance your efficiency, shaving precious seconds off your pull time.

Effective Clothing Selecting the right clothing can be a game changer for your Sled Pulls. You want items that facilitates unrestricted movement and are breathable. Moisture-wicking materials allow you to remain dry and comfortable throughout your session. Durable gloves can add enhanced grip and prevent rope burns, and select footwear with excellent traction to maintain a firm stance on the ground.

Breath Management Correct breath management can be your ally in sustaining energy levels and minimizing fatigue. Establish a rhythmic breathing pattern, inhaling as you prepare for the next pull and exhaling forcefully as you execute the pull.

Regular Practice to Build Endurance Just as in any other sport, regular practice is key to enhancing your performance over time. Structure a training plan that incorporates a gradual increase in difficulty levels, including heavier sled weights and longer pull distances, to build both your strength and endurance.

8. What Muscle Groups do the HYROX Sled Pull Target for Improved Fitness?

Visual representation of human anatomy highlighting the muscle groups targeted by sled pulls for improved fitness

Initial Pull Phase

Quadriceps: These muscles form the powerhouse at the beginning of the pull, stabilising the body and facilitating the initial burst of power necessary to get the sled moving. Strengthening your quadriceps will aid in a powerful start, setting a strong pace right off the bat.

Calves: These muscles play a supporting role, assisting the quadriceps in initiating a robust start. Working seamlessly with the quadriceps, they facilitate a smooth transition of power from the upper to the lower body, helping maintain balance and stability.

Sustained Pull Phase

Hamstrings and Glutes: These muscles are fundamental in the sustained pulling phase. A well-conditioned hamstring and glutes pair will ensure a consistent force, aiding you in manoeuvring the sled efficiently.

Erector Spinae: This muscle group supports the spine, aiding in maintaining an upright position during the sustained pull. Strengthening these muscles is essential to prevent back injuries and ensure a strong, stable core throughout the pull.

Throughout the Pull

Core: As with the Sled Push. the core muscles are actively engaged throughout the pull, acting as a stabilising force that ensures a balanced, controlled movement. These muscles are vital in protecting the spine and facilitating an interplay between the upper and lower body movements.

Upper Back and Shoulders: These upper body muscle groups, including the traps and deltoids, work tirelessly, offering stability to the shoulders and aiding in the pulling motion, working with the lower body to maintain a continuous force.

Grip and Forearm Engagement

Forearms and Hands: The forearms and hand muscles involved in grip strength are crucial in maintaining a firm hold on the ropes, ensuring a non-slip grip that facilitates a potent and sustained pulling force. Conditioning these muscles can aid in avoiding early fatigue in the arms, allowing for a steady, powerful pull throughout.

Aerobic Engagement

Heart and Lungs: Beyond muscular engagement, sled pulls demand a robust aerobic response. Training for cardiovascular endurance is a much, as the heart and lungs work overtime to supply the necessary oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles, promoting sustained energy and endurance throughout the race.

9. Benefits of a HYROX Sled Pull

Image of a male torso holding a DNA helix, illustrating the scientific benefits of sled pulls on human physiology

Metabolic Implications

Post-exercise Calorie Burn

Given the intensity, sled pulls can push your body into an oxygen debt, which it then has to recover post-exercise. This recovery requires energy, meaning you continue to burn calories even after you’ve collapsed onto your sofa.

Neuromuscular Advantages

Proprioception and Coordination

The task of pulling a weight while maintaining a forward motion hones your body’s proprioceptive skills. You become more attuned to where your body is in space, which enhances balance and coordination.

Musculoskeletal Benefits

Strengthening Targeted Muscle Groups

Sled pulls specifically target a plethora of lower body muscles, most notably:

  • Hamstrings: Engaged as you drive the sled backward.
  • Glutes: Activated as you extend your hips, propelling the sled back.
  • Quadriceps: Essential when you’re pulling the sled back, emphasising a walking or marching movement.
  • Erector Spinae (lower back): This muscle group is consistently active, providing stability to the spine.
  • Latissimus Dorsi (upper back): Working in harmony with the lower back, these upper back muscles maintain an upright posture and assist in the pulling phase.

Improved Joint Health

Sled pulls, being a non-impact exercise, are forgiving on the joints. The resistance provided by the sled ensures the muscles work hard, yet the absence of jarring impacts means the knees, hips, and ankles are less likely to suffer from repetitive strain.

Cardiovascular System

Enhanced Cardiac Output

The sustained effort of sled pulls demands increased oxygenation. Your heart rate skyrockets to ensure muscles receive the oxygen they crave. This consistent cardiovascular stress (the good kind) paves the way for improved cardiac health and endurance.

Aerobic and Anaerobic Conditioning

The Sled Pull is unique. Depending on the weight of the sled and the intensity of the pull, you could be working either aerobically (with oxygen) or anaerobically (without oxygen). This provides a two-pronged approach to improving both stamina (aerobic) and power (anaerobic).

Psychological Perks

Mental Toughness

It’s no walk in the park, pulling a heavy sled. It requires incredible mental grit. The resistance of the sled, metaphorically and literally, forces you to push against the odds, fostering a resilience that can be used in the other HYROX Exercises and applied to life’s broader challenges.

Stress Reduction

The intense focus required for sled pulls, combined with the sheer physical exertion, creates an excellent avenue for stress relief. As your body combats the weight of the sled, it’s as if it’s also pushing away life’s stressors, one pull at a time.

Functional Benefits

Real-world Application

The act of pulling or pushing weight across a distance has a direct functional application in real-world scenarios – be it dragging a heavy suitcase across an airport or pushing a stalled car.

Injury Prevention

By reinforcing the entire posterior chain muscles and teaching proper movement mechanics, sled pulls can aid in preventing common injuries, especially those related to lifting and moving heavy objects.

Wrapping Up

Improved sled pull performance will have a great impact on your final HYROX time.

It won’t win the race for you but being well equipped for the pull will stop it losing the race for you.

Now you have the information, practise the tips and tricks while building your strength and form and you’ll be flying through the pull section before you know it.

If you want more guidance and ideas on how to get fit this year click the link.

And if you’re new to HYROX try our 6 Week HYROX Training Plan for Beginners to get you started.

FAQ’s

How far is the sled pull at HYROX?

A total of 50m, spilt into 4 x 12.5m

How much weight is the sled pull for HYROX?

The weight for the HYROX sled pull varies by category: Open Women 78kg, Pro Women 103kg, Open Men 103kg, Pro Men 153kg, Doubles Women 78kg, Doubles Men 103kg, Mixed Doubles 103kg, Relay Women 78kg, Relay Men 103kg and Relay Mixed 103kg. All weights include the Sled.

How to do a HYROX sled pull?

The HYROX sled pull involves pulling the sled towards you using a rope while walking or running backwards. The technique requires a strong core, stable posture, and consistent pulling to maintain momentum.

What are the 8 HYROX exercises?

The 8 HYROX exercises are:

  1. Skierg
  2. Sled Push
  3. Sled Pull
  4. Burpee Broad Jump
  5. Sandbag Lunges
  6. Farmers Carry
  7. Rowing
  8. Wall Balls

What is the hardest part of HYROX?

The hardest part of HYROX can vary for each person, but many find the the 75-100 wall balls at the end the hardest part due to the high volume and build up of fatigue from the rest of the race.

What is a good sled pull weight?

A good sled pull weight depends on your fitness level and training goals. For general fitness, start with a weight that challenges you while allowing you to maintain proper form. For specific training like HYROX, match the competition weights or slightly heavier for training purposes.

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