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Increase Your Fitness Level by Training on Turf Flooring

By Dominic Pharand and Laura Stevenson, PSP Ottawa Reconditioning and Fitness –

As previously announced, the Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa) is modernizing its fitness facilities in the National Capital Region to optimize Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members’ training programs. By incorporating different variables, different planes of motion and different levels of performance, the goal is to meet Universality of Service and to get our CAF members’ bodies moving as a whole.

In order to do so, PSP have installed turf in three of our main gyms (NDHQ (Carling) B6, NDHQ (Pearkes) Basement and 5th Floor, and 455 de la Carrière in Gatineau). Turf not only creates a defined space and improves the look of our gyms, but is also a better surface for dynamic resistance training exercises.  Amongst many of its benefits, the turf is softer than most flooring surfaces and therefore easier on the joints. Not only will this minimize impact on the joints during training or possible falls, it can prevent serious injuries to the ankles, hips and other body parts.

This surface provides new exercises to CAF members who haven’t been able to perform in our gyms previously. An example of this would be the addition of prowlers that provide many different full-body movements that mimic the running motion.

Also, when deployed the CAF operates all over the world. From snow to grass to sand, CAF members work in many different environments and turf provides a perfect opportunity to explore a surface that may be encountered when deployed. It is also much more operationally relevant when compared to stationary stacked machine. Using the prowler can greatly increase your performance on the Sandbag Drag and 20-meter rushes resulting in a higher incentive level during your next FORCE Evaluation.

Try one of the following circuit workouts next time you visit one of our gyms equipped with turf flooring:

After a general warm-up (light aerobic activity, mobility and muscle activation routine), complete a couple of warm-up sets of 20-meter sled push or drag with a light load.

For Strength Development:

Increase the load to get close to your maximum load (100%) – if you add more weight you won’t be able to move the sled.

Perform 4 to 6 sled push or drag sets of 10 to 20 meters followed by 2 to 3 minutes of rest between rounds.

During the rest period, you can add accessories exercises. For example you can add a superset exercise working upper body muscle groups like dumbbell shoulder press, dumbbell bent over row, dumbbell bench press, etc.


For Power Development:

Increase the load at 70 to 85% of your maximum load.

Perform 6 to 10 sled push or drag sets for a shorter distance (5-10 meters) followed by 3 to 5 minutes of rest between rounds. Longer rest period will provide a better restoration of muscle adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main energy source for power work.

During the rest period, you can add accessories exercises.  Right after the sled work add an exercise working your upper body muscles like dumbbell shoulder push press, explosive lat pulldown or pull-ups, explosive push-ups, etc.


For Sprinting/Anaerobic Conditioning:

Increase to a moderate load at 30 to 50% of your maximum load.

Perform 10 sprints of sled push for 20 meters followed by 60 to 90 seconds of rest between rounds. As you are getting better and more efficient at it, reduce your resting period to 30-60 seconds.


For Aerobic Conditioning:

You can pair prowler sled with another conditioning exercise and perform as superset: Load can vary from light to moderate to challenge yourself. Perform 10 sets of 30 seconds of prowler sled, then another cardio exercise for 30 seconds of one of the following: battle rope, run on the turf, indoor cycling, ski ergometer, rowing machine or air dyne bike) or 10 to 20 repetitions of one of the following exercises: kettlebell swing, bodyweight squat, wall ball, slam ball, etc. followed by a 60-second rest period between rounds.


Core Finisher:
Load can vary from very light to moderate to challenge yourself.

Perform 4 to 6 sets of 10 to 20 meters of one of the following exercises: prowler bear crawl, lateral sideways shuffle drag with harness (or TRX), single-arm prowler pull (can also add crossovers), low-bar prowler push, rope pull, etc. followed by different plank options for 30 to 60 seconds (front, sides, body saw, etc.).


A few tips for proper sled work execution:

  • Maintain a proper alignment of your spine as you execute the different movements;
  • Keep your core muscles activated;
  • Maintain a firm grip on the sled;
  • Same feet width and stance than when you are running, and drive through the ball of your feet with your toes in contact with the turf flooring;
  • Make sure to BREATHE!

For more questions and assistance, go see your local PSP staff.

This post is also available in: Français (French)

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