(Mark Keppler, File/AP Photo)
This might be the sport that demands the most total body agility, speed, power, and mental acuteness, says Burke. "A lot of the explosive power and agility is within the run and the push" before the athletes hop into the sled. After that, the ride down the chute requires a lot of core strength to steer and stay steady, she says. To build your own explosive power, she recommends standing long jumps or star jumps. To do a star jump, bend your legs at the knees, then jump up and out while opening your legs wide and arms out (like a star). When you land, bend your knees until your hands touch the floor, keeping your back straight and your head looking forward.
To more precisely mimic the sport, you can push either a heavy sled or a weight bench across the floor (probably best to save this for less crowded hours at the gym), says Gene Schafer, an athletic trainer and owner of Arc Athletics, a New York-based rehab and training facility. Another option, he says, is to use large, thick exercise bands to provide resistance as you sprint forward against their pull and then walk back in a controlled way to resist their retraction. And of course, if you live in or visit a snowy climate, just find a hill, grab a sled and some kids, and go for it.
[Here's how to train as race day approaches.]