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The XPO Trainer Sled is very unique. Although it's been greatly refined over time, it still looks like some crazy science experiment or a vehicle out of the movie Mad Max.
The reason for its unique appearance is in how it receives its resistance. Pretty much every sled in the world today (besides the Torque Fitness Tank, we'll get to that later) receives it's resistance through friction.
For instance, the best friction sled, in my opinion, is the Rogue Dog Sled. It's one that I have and still use to this day when I want to do very heavy sled pushes. The resistance derived through this sort of sled is provided through the metal scraping against the concrete or in more formal scenarios, turf. The more weight you put on the sled, the more gravity drove the sled into the pavement and therefore made it more difficult to move.Although this has really been the only way for sleds to achieve resistance,
Although this has really been the only way for sleds to achieve resistance up to this point, Armored Fitness has created a clever way of producing resistance using a resistance motor and wheels. A chain connects from the motor to the front wheel, and the harder you push, the harder it is (more on that later.)
Many look at the weight stacked on the sled and think that is what creates the resistance. However, the weight is there simply to keep the back wheels from coming off the ground during pushes.
The XPO Trainer Sled showed up on my door step as many packages do; being delivered by an annoyed and overworked delivery murmuring profanities under his breath as he struggles with my equipment (I get a lot of packages.)
Thankfully, despite the delivery man's dismay regarding dropping off yet another package that requires two men to carry, the box was in pretty good shape.
After bringing it inside and going about my evenings business, it kept calling out to me. So, after my wife had gone to sleep, I brought it out to the garage and went to work assembling the machine.
Thankfully, Armored Fitness had partially assembled the sled. This made it easier for me to put it together and helped avoid any possible issues with misaligning the front wheel.
All parts were properly protected within the box and without any damage. Cue the "10 minutes later" Spongebob Squarepants scene and...
Voila! The sled is complete and ready to put some hurt on anyone's CNS who dares to underestimate the damage sled sprints can do.
The Armored Fitness XPO Trainer Sled has a cool story. It started out as an idea in the inventor Bill Strahan's head as most things do, and through trial and error eventually came to the polished product that I'm reviewing today.
The will to succeed and create has always astounded me. I love training and finding new pieces of equipment and being able to share it with our readers is very thrilling for me. That's one reason I was so excited to review this sled, not only because it's unique, but also because it has a cool story.
Before I get into the performance aspects of the sled, I first want to detail the construction. Although the XPO Trainer Sled has greatly improved over the years, there are still some areas that need further refinement, and this relates mostly to the sled's construction.
I first want to clarify that there isn't much on the sled that causes me concern in the way of overall durability. From a function standpoint, the XPO Trainer Sled is pretty flawless. But, this is a $700 piece of training equipment, and with that price tag there are some things expected.
Before I get into the good, I need to show you the not so good. One of the great features of the XPO Sled is that it has removable handles. These are similar to what Rogue uses in their Dog Sled and it allows for increased portability as well as compactness. In fact, it's so compact I just hang it on my wall.
The issue has little to do with the handles themselves, but mostly with the holes the handles are inserted into.
This may simply be an issue with my sled, and if it is I will update this review, but once I got the handles in, I literally had to jump on the sled and pull the handles out like I was pulling excalibur out of the stone. The only issue was in this scenario I was not the true king (look up the story if you don't know it) and had to wiggle the handles back and forth many times until finally it was out. Figuring maybe it was just one hole, I went to the other with high hopes and was quickly saddened.
Both holes were nearly impossible to have the handles removed and it was pretty difficult inserting them as well. My guess is the powder-coat was too thick in the holes are and is preventing the handles from being inserted and removed with ease. To remedy this, I plan to take some sandpaper and smooth out the holes.
And this is about where the problems stop. In reality, the issue with the holes is very small. After taking out and putting in the handles a few times, there will likely no longer be any issue, but I think it's important for you to see.
Since I've mentioned the powder-coat I might as well tell you more about it.
The XPO Trainer has a thick gray powder coat with a nice glossy texture. I like the look and it should hold up to whatever you can throw at it. The powder-coat covers both the frame of the sled as well as the previously mentioned handles. I'm glad they chose the texture they did for the powder-coat as it grips well during pushes and even takes chalk well if you're doing some sort of couplet with a barbell.
The frame of the sled is made of rigid, square steel in the familiar prowler shape that is perfect for the application.
There are two types of wheels used that allow the front of the sled to sit lower than the back. This forces the user to be more likely to keep the front of the sled down, which is what creates the resistance and is needed to operate the sled properly.
Both the rear and front wheels are heavy-duty and although I would have preferred puncture-proof tires (full rubber) I don't foresee many issues with them. I may have to air them up every once in a while to keep proper inflation, but that isn't a big deal.
Everything I've discussed thus far is pretty standard. A nice steel frame with heavy powder-coat, replaceable handles, and although wheels are unique to this sled, there's nothing about them that's too special.
What is special on the XPO Sled is the resistance motor that sits right behind the front wheel.
From a very basic standpoint, the motor turns the energy that you're putting into the sled and through the turning of the front wheel into heat that comes out the sides of the motor. It would be a good sled if it kept a consistent resistance, but what makes the XPO Trainer Sled great is the fact that it's similar to most of the conditioning equipment you're already using. Think about the Airdyne for a second. The harder you push, the more wind has to be displaced by the fan and therefore the harder it is for you to push.
Think about the Airdyne for a second. The harder you push, the more wind has to be displaced by the fan and therefore the harder it is for you to push. The XPO Trainer Sled works the same way.
The harder you push the sled, the harder it resists and right there is the reason I am such a big fan of the XPO Trainer Sled. There are other reasons as well as illustrated in this review, but from a training aspect, the XPO Sled is absolutely brutal and will humble anyone who doesn't respect it.
I remember the first time my cocksure buddy came over to train with me. He's the type that "squatted 500, benched 400, and deadlifted 600 in highschool" yet can't squat 315 today. You know the type. I told him we were going to finish the workout on the airdyne with some 15 seconds on/45 seconds off intervals. You could tell by the way he looked at the bike, he thought it would be like using an elliptical.
Five minutes into the workout he had to go outside to puke. The XPO Trainer has the same effect. If the Airdyne is the devil's tricycle, the XPO Trainer is his scooter and it's brutal.
Despite the XPO Trainer being brutal during training, it's a breeze to maneuver and store away, two of our gripes with the Torque Fitness TANK. Due to the shape and short wheel base on the XPO Trainer, if you want to maneuver the sled, you simply place your foot on the back part of the frame (there's also a jagged edge that helps grip your shoe) pull back on the handles, and reposition to your liking.
Thanks to the weight plates being displaced towards the back of the sled, lifting the front wheel off the ground after use is a breeze. The weight plate post is also removable, although I can't see many reasons you'd want to take it off as it is quite short.
If you can't tell, I'm a big fan of the XPO Trainer, but the question that will inevitably be brought up in the comments is, "which is better, the XPO Sled or the TANK Sled?" I plan to go into this in further detail soon, but although they have similarities, they're actually quite different. In my opinion, the XPO Sled is great for smaller gyms and home gyms. It's compact, less-expensive, and gets the job done. The TANK is just that, an absolute tank that is made of the best materials and is well thought out. Both have their shortcomings, but be on the lookout for my opinion in a future post.
Although the XPO Sled is outstanding, there are a few things that could be improved.
The first that has already been extensively discussed is the handles issue, I hope and kind of expect it to be a one off issue.
The second thing that could be improved is the housing for the motor. Although from a functional standpoint, the way it's currently designed works fine. But aesthetically, I would like to see some sort of removable housing to cover the motor and chain. This would lead to great protection from the elements and give it a more polished look. Similar to a car having the engine under the hood, I would like to see the XPO's engine covered.
The last thing I would like to see added is the ability to drag the sled. Sled pushes are a great workout, but to increase versatility, there needs to be a way to drag the sled with a rope or belt. Previous versions of the sled seemed to have an extension to add this capability and I'd like to see it on this version.
The XPO Sled is outstanding, but if these things were added, I think it could be even better.
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