Lab Rats Needed to Test The Fitness Improvement Effects of Backward Sled Drags

By Rob Shaul

MTI is calling for fit lab rats to test the fitness effects of backward sled drags.

The training will begin Monday, March 7, 2022.

The deadline to apply is 1700 Mountain Time, Friday, March 4, 2022.

Lab rats must be 20-40 years old.


All lab rats will complete the same, focused 3.5 weeks, 5 day/week focused training cycle.

We’re looking to get 6-12 committed, fit, lab rats for this study.

Athletes must have solid free weight strength training experience and know their way around a weight room. This cycle isn’t appropriate for athletes new to lifting or strength training, or de-conditioned athletes.

All lower body and work capacity efforts in the plan will be based around backward sled drag intervals. You’ll do these 3 days/week. The rest of the week will be focused on upper body and core strength training.

You’ll work directly with MTI Founder Rob Shaul for the duration of the project and communicate through a group-only message board/forum.

What We Hope To Learn

  1. The effectiveness and computability of an interval-based backwards sled drag programming methodology.
  2. The fitness effects of backwards sled pulls on endurance, lower body strength, and overall work capacity.
  3. A comparison of the effect of backwards sled drags to forward sled pulls.

There is a little bit of research available on the effects of sled pulls on sprinting speed, but none that we could find on the overall conditioning effects of high volume, interval-based sled pushes, and/or pulls. Many college weight rooms and strongman competitors swear by the strength and work capacity conditioning power of sled pushes/pulls, but to our knowledge, this has never been actually quantified.

Previously, MTI conducted a 3.5 Week Mini Study to assess the endurance, lower body strength and overall work capacity affects of forward sled pulls. This study will piggy back that research by comparing the effect of forward pulls to backward pulls.

One of the programming problems with sled pulls/drags is the sled and the sliding surface greatly affect the friction and thus the difficulty of the effort. This makes it difficult for strength coaches to program sled pushes/pulls for remote athletes. We’re hoping an interval-based system while not perfect, can lead to effective remote programming.

Required Equipment

  • Fully outfitted functional fitness gym (racks, barbells, bumper plates)
  • Sled and place for pull and/or pushes. If athletes have access to a turf field or beach, they may also pull a sandbag.

Cycle Duration

This study project will take 3.5  weeks. It will begin Monday, March 7, 2022 with a general strength, work capacity, and endurance assessment, and end, Monday, with a 1RM assessment, and end the week of Monday, March 28, 2022 with a re-assessment.


To Participate

  • You’ll need to commit to training 5 days/week for 3.5 weeks, and follow the program as prescribed
  • You’ll need to commit to following only this programming as formal fitness training for the study project period. You can’t double up this training with any other physical fitness training.
  • You’ll need the required equipment (see above).
  • You’ll need to be 18-40 years old, fit, and a weight room veteran. This is intense programming, and not appropriate for functional training rookies or deconditioned athletes.

Want to be an MTI Lab Rat?

Please email, and put “Backwards Sled Drag Lab Rat” in the subject line.

Please include:

  • Age
  • Verify you have access to the required equipment and have a solid strength training background
  • Verify you will commit to the 3.5 weeks, 5 day/week program
  • Verify if you are either (1) current Athlete’s Subscription subscriber, or (2) past purchaser of an MTI training Program or packet of plans
  • Describe the type of sled/sandbag you have access to in detail, as well as the space and sliding surface you’ll be using.

We’re hoping to get 6-12 lab rats for this project.



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