“I’m not only the Hair Club President, but I’m also a client.” - Sy Sperling.
I sometimes laugh about that commercial, but I identify with it as well! I can promise you that as the creator of the XPO Trainer I have used more sleds in more ways than most of you can ever imagine.
My first sleds were simple things on skids built from leftover parts from other projects. I hated the skids, so I built a “sled on wheels” and used parts scavenged from a broken scooter to create resistance. And from there I eventually worked towards what is produced today as the XPO Trainer.
Over that time I built versions that were next to impossible to push as well as some that I could maintain a running stride for a 400m, and was much easier to push than our current design. They all had an uncanny ability to introduce even professional athletes to true metabolic exhaustion.
Which brings me to my warning about the XPO: It’s sneaky.
A traditional sled on skids will be hard to push, but if you get it loaded heavy enough to really tax you it won’t take much fatigue until you simply grind to a stop. You can’t keep going unless it isn’t that hard to begin with. In the case of the XPO, you can push as hard as you can and you’ll hit a similar wall where you can’t go faster, but unlike an old-style sled you don’t grind to a halt. You just slow down and keep going.
And there’s the sneaky part: You can always push it at some speed. There’s never that grind to a stop that FORCES you to take a break.
So one day I was late to CrossFit Richardson (Where we test all of our latest designs) and didn’t do the regular class so just decided that before I left I’d push the XPO the length of the gym as hard as I could, every minute for 30 minutes. The gym is about 100’ long, so this seemed simple enough.
At first it was taking 7-8 seconds, and while I slowed a bit over the 30 minutes, I still did all of them in under 10 seconds each. But I felt fine and I didn’t feel like I was overdoing it.
When I finished the thirty minutes I thought I was okay, but felt a little weird while driving home. Within a couple of hours I felt like I was getting the flu, my ears were ringing, and I was having a hard time staying awake. By the time I went to sleep that night my ears were still ringing, my urine was almost as dark as iced tea, and I just felt mentally off.
The next day I felt a little better. My urine slowly returned to a normal color by the end of that day, but I didn’t feel totally recovered for at least another day or two. I had no idea the hole I had dug for myself doing all those sprints, but in retrospect it makes sense. They were short, with about a 5:1 rest to work ratio, so I was fresh enough to go close to a maximum effort on each one, and because the XPO lets me go as hard as I can, I was truly giving a max effort every time.
Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t decide to do this for 45 minutes. I hope if you’re reading this and have access to an XPO Trainer that you’ll ease into it more intelligently than I did. It’s a great training tool, but remember, it’s a sneaky one as well.