The presence of a long strip of green artificial turf is one of the signs you’re at a well-equipped gym. Just the fact that there’s enough room for it is impressive enough. But what can you do there? More things than you think. Let’s talk about how to use some of the equipment you’ll commonly find around a turf area (sleds, agility ladders, even that giant tire) — plus a few options that don’t require any special equipment at all.
Backwards sled drags
Look around the turf, and you’ll probably find a sled (or a prowler, which is a type of sled). You can push or pull these, so let’s look at a few variations.
One good place to start is a backwards sled drag. Find a pair of handles (they may be made of rope, strapping, or chain). Face the sled, and step backwards to pull it across the turf. These are amazing for the quads.
Forward sled drags
The other way to drag a sled is by facing away from it, so you’re walking forward. Your gym might have a harness that goes over your shoulders, but you can also place a strap across your hips (right in the crease where your legs meet your body). You’ll work the muscles on the backs of your legs (glutes, hamstrings, calves) so they’re a good counterbalance to the backwards drags.
Sled or prowler pushes
Now that we’ve pulled the sled, how about pushing it? A prowler typically has high handles so that you can push it without leaning over too much. A sled usually has lower handles. Both are good. Just put your hands on the handles and push.
Now that you know several ways of moving the sled down the turf, you can mix them together. Push it down, drag it back, and repeat.
If you’ve only ever done farmer’s carries with dumbbells, have I got a treat for you. Some gyms that have a turf area will also have farmer’s handles, which are sort of bizarro-world barbells with a handle in the middle and upright loading pins at either end. But if you have to make do with dumbbells, kettlebells, or other random heavy objects, that’s fine too. Farmer’s carries are great for your grip, your core, and your cardiovascular system. This video from strongman coach Brian Alsruhe gives tips for moving with farmer’s handles while keeping them under control.
If your gym has sandbags, these are also great for carries. You hug the bag as high on your chest as you can, and walk to the other end of the turf. This video from Alena Alsruhe is a must-watch if you find sandbags hard to pick up and work with. She’s carried a double bodyweight sandbag and has great tips on how to master the sandbag carry.
Agility ladder drills
Is there a flexible ladder around, probably folded up and stuffed in a corner? Time to do some agility drills. This video shows a variety of footwork drills you can do with a ladder, starting with beginner level hops and progressing to more advanced work.
Agility cone drills
If you can’t find a ladder (or if you’ve already had your fun with it), what about cones? This video shows agility drills you can do with cones. Some involve running specific distances; others like the “X drill” can be scaled to the space you have available.
This one requires no equipment at all. Instead, we’ll be moving our body in different ways to get from one end of the turf to the other. Bear crawls involve walking on your hands and feet, and there are more: duck walks, lizard crawls, frog jumps — we have a whole library of them here, too.
Another no-equipment set of movements are moving plyometrics. These include skipping (with or without arm circles), bounding, high knees, butt kicks, and more. A few lengths of each will make a great warmup for running or for a lower body strength workout.
Is there a giant tractor tire hanging around the turf area? Jackpot! Tire flips are fun and make you feel badass. Just make sure to watch a tutorial like this one on the technique first — you want to get the tire off the ground by pushing it, not by yoinking it up with your arms. For a big tire, you may want to do one or two flips and then alternate that with another exercise; for a smaller one, go ahead and flip it all the way down the turf.