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Sled Towing Acutely Decreases Acceleration Sprint Time

Wong, Megan A.; Dobbs, Ian J.; Watkins, Casey M.; Barillas, Saldiam R.; Lin, Anne; Archer, David C.; Lockie, Robert G.; Coburn, Jared W.; Brown, Lee E.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: November 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 11 - p 3046–3051
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002123
Original Research

Wong, MA, Dobbs, IJ, Watkins, C, Barillas, SR, Lin, A, Archer, DC, Lockie, RG, Coburn, JW, and Brown, LE. Sled towing acutely decreases acceleration sprint time. J Strength Cond Res 31(11): 3046–3051, 2017—Sled towing is a common form of overload training in sports to develop muscular strength for sprinting. This type of training leads to acute and chronic outcomes. Acute training potentially leads to postactivation potentiation (PAP), which is when subsequent muscle performance is enhanced after a preload stimulus. The purpose of this study was to determine differences between rest intervals after sled towing on acute sprint speed. Twenty healthy recreationally trained men (age = 22.3 ± 2.4 years, height = 176.95 ± 5.46 cm, mass = 83.19 ± 11.31 kg) who were currently active in a field sport twice a week for the last 6 months volunteered to participate. A maximal 30-meter (m) baseline (BL) body mass (BM) sprint was performed (with splits at 5, 10, 20, and 30 m) followed by 5 visits where participants sprinted 30 m towing a sled at 30% BM then rested for 2, 4, 6, 8, or 12 minutes. They were instructed to stand still during rest times. After the rest interval, they performed a maximal 30-m post-test BM sprint. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed that post sled tow BM sprint times (4.47 ± 0.21 seconds) were less than BL times (4.55 ± 0.18 seconds) on an individualized rest interval basis. A follow-up 2 × 4 ANOVA showed that this decrease occurred only in the acceleration phase over the first 5 m (BL = 1.13 ± 0.08 seconds vs. Best = 1.08 ± 0.08 seconds), which may be the result of PAP and the complex relationship between fatigue and potentiation relative to the intensity of the sled tow and the rest interval. Therefore, coaches should test their athletes on an individual basis to determine optimal rest time after a 30-m 30% BM sled tow to enhance acute sprint speed.

Department of Kinesiology, Human Performance Laboratory, Center for Sport Performance, California State University, Fullerton, California

Address correspondence to Lee E. Brown,

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.