The # 1 Lower Body Strength Exercise to Improve Horizontal Acceleration (Part 2)

This article is guest blogged by Karsten Jensen, M.Sc. Exercise Physiology, and a Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  Visit his website at

Click here for Part 1 of the 2 part series.

Considerations when performing walking lunges dragging a sled:

  • Practice on a surface with good friction.
  • Use a solid sled, weights, a rope and a harness, such as the ones found here. A low cost alternative is to use a tire, which has a great friction against asphalt. Drill a hole in the tire to anchor the rope. Place a board in the bottom of the tire, so that you can load it up with plates.
  • Both high and low reps can be used. However, while you could drag almost any load (some strongmen are dragging trucks and airplanes) there is a limit to – regardless of a person’s strength, the load that they can perform lunges with in proper form. When the load on the sled increases there is a point, where the athlete will have to lean forward in order to increase the pressure into the ground with the front foot in order to create sufficient friction.

At this point, progression with respect to load on the sled can only be increased by making the athlete heavier, a task that is accomplished by performing the walking lunges with load on the sled plus a barbell on the back or dumbbell in the hands.

See The Flexible Periodization Method for effective method variations, including examples of the differences in how a sprinter and a marathon runner would use Walking Lunges Dragging A Sled

  • As the athlete steps forward emphasize a lowering of the center of gravity until the back knee is 1-2 inches above the ground. Grab the ground with the toes and “pull” with the front foot. As the body passes over the support leg, the pull changes into a push that finishes with feeling the pressure of the toes.
  • Variations: Diagonally Walking Lunges Dragging A Sled, Alternating Leg Bounds With Sled Resistance, Single Leg Hop w/Sled Resistance, Dryland Skating w/Sled Resistance. First and foremost the resistance is provided by the load on the sled, but a second point of loading can be applied in the form of dumbbells, a bar on the bark, a bar overhead or a sandbag held Zercher Style. There are many, many other variations of sled dragging with different attachments that can be chosen to emphasize both pushing and pulling strength in combination with the lunges.

During a macro cycle a sprinter could periodize the variations of the Walking Lunges in the following way:

  • ISS block: Walk Lunge With Kick (lateral ankle and hip stability)
  • SIS block: Uphill Walking Lunges Dragging A Sled (places the hip extensors under greater stretch in the accentuated region of force)
  • SSP block: Alternate regular Walking Lunges Dragging A sled with Partial Walking Lunges Dragging a sled (allowing for heavier loads to be used)

If you would like to learn all the principles of exercise periodization, then you will like Beyond Functional Training – How to Maximise the Transfer of Exercises through Science Based Exercise Selection.

  • You can pretty much use whatever set and rep combination you would normally use to develop the kind of strength that you are seeking from Walking Lunges Dragging a Sled. However, 5 steps per leg with an individually determined 5 RM load is about as heavy as one should go (to prevent the previously mentioned forward lean).


If the load is too light or the friction to low, the sled will tend to get too close to the athlete after each step. With the right load, the rope stays tight regardless of the exercise performed.

As mentioned above, Walking Lunges Dragging A Sled improves horizontal acceleration for badminton players (or any athlete). No of the aspects of conditioning that Walking Lunges Dragging a Sled Does not do is developing eccentric strength required for deceleration

Due to the lack of horizontal resistance, simply doing Walking Lunges with barbell or dumbbell resistance is a VERY different exercise compared to the Walking Lunges with a Sled Resistance.

If you train athletes, who needs to improve horizontal acceleration there is no way around this exercise.

The principles of exercise transfer and the principles of exercise periodization a very powerful and liberating in the sense that these principles truly gives us the tools to offer any athlete or fitness client the most effective exercises possible.

With the right exercises, it is not uncommon that the athlete after a couple of weeks report back that they feel that some aspect of their movement in the sport specific practice has improved and when that happens they are hooked. They start trusting us. If you feel that the athletes are not motivated for the programs you create, chances are that they don’t feel the difference in their ability to train or compete.

I share everything I have learned so far about The principles of exercise transfer and the principles of exercise periodization in Beyond Functional Training – How to Maximize the Transfer of Exercises through Science Based Exercise Selection.

About the Author

Karsten Jensen (Msc Exercise Physiology, CPTN-CPTM, CHEK 2, HLC 3, USUI REIKI 1) is Strength and Conditioning  Specialist, and Founder of  The Flexible Periodization Method is the FIRST complete method of periodization, dedicated to MAXIMIZING results through a PROVEN 9-Step sequence to create truly INDIVIDUALIZED training programs.

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • Jimson, what do you think about Bounding with just Sled-only as resistance? I did this myself and had my guys doing it for 3×12 Bounds (standing start) last week.. rhythm looked good and mechanics still pretty decent (ground contacts quite crisp)

    Just wanted to know if you’d advocate this