Prowlers are one of the best and most versatile bits of training kit you can use. The problem is, most people only push them. Whilst this is a great workout in its own right, there’s so much more you can do with a prowler! I’ve written this post to share a few prowler workout ideas with you, so you can see how I use a prowler with my personal training clients and in my own training.
If you’ve never used a prowler, you’re missing out on a piece of kit that can be literally transformative for your fitness and physique. In fact, when I built MyGym, one of the first items of kit that I bought was two custom made prowlers. The ones I have are 90kg each, with three different handle options….
My prowlers are heavy, but they also have really wide ski’s on the bottom so they move pretty well. They definitely make for a much tougher prowler workout though!
What is a prowler?
A prowler is a sled – they come in a variety of weights and shapes and are designed to be pushed or pulled along the ground. They can be adjusted in terms of weight by adding additional plates onto the machine. They’re the classic example of a simple bit of gym kit that delivers a huge return. They’re the opposite of complicated, but prowlers are one of the most effective tools in the gym.
Primarily prowlers are a conditioning tool, used to create a a huge heart rate and calorie burn response. In a few short seconds you can take your heart rate from low to lung-bursting, such is the effectiveness of prowler workouts.
They are also effective strength and muscle building tools because they can be loaded with weight. You can go as heavy as you can push, but remember you need to make sure you can get some grip under foot – trying to push a prowler with no foot grip is like trying to run on ice – you’re likely to end up slap down on your face!
Reasons to use a prowler workout for conditioning…
There are lots of reasons to use a prowler for your workouts, some of which aren’t immediately obvious. Here’s a snapshot of the main reasons to use a prowler in your workouts, with a little explanation of each…
With a prowler, you don’t lose strength…
One of the issues with using straight low intensity steady state cardio for fat loss is that you can lose strength and muscle mass. With a prowler that’s not an issue because it’s resistance-based. We’re working against a weight, building a specific type of strength and not losing either muscle or strength (in fact in lots of cases, we’re gaining it).
You recover from prowler workouts quicker…
When you push a prowler there’s a distinct lack of eccentric contraction (the muscle lengthening type of contraction), which is associated with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This means that even when you work hard, you’re unlikely to experience a lot of pain or post-exercise soreness. Thanks to this you can increase your training load without compromising your recovery.
You can increase your training load…
With the prowler workouts demanding less from you when it comes to recovery, you can increase your training load and volume. This in turn will improve your physical capabilities, your calorie burn and ultimately your results. With a prowler workout burning hundreds of calories in short space of time, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Pushing a prowler is a simple technique…
I’m a huge fan of weightlifting and kettlebell workouts for conditioning and fat loss, but the reality is unless you’re experienced and have good technique with a kettlebell or barbell, you’re putting yourself at a degree of risk. Pushing a prowler negates this risk because it’s a very simple technique with a low/no risk of injury. It’s a massive return for a simple technique.
Prowlers are inexpensive…
Relative to a treadmill, spin bike, rower, cross trainer etc, a prowler is an inexpensive bit of kit. The ones we have at MyGym are custom made by Anvil Strength and Conditioning, weigh 90kg each and are capable of holding on to thousands of kilograms. Even with the bespoke design and manufacture, they’re less than 10% of the price of a standard commercial grade treadmill.
Prowlers offer more workout variety…
A prowler can be pushed or pulled quickly when unloaded. It can be weighted and then slowly dragged or pushed. It can be used in partner workouts, hill workouts, can be transported and used on different surfaces. It can be used in short, sharp bursts or you can use it for a longer period of time. You can use it with accessories. You can use it for conditioning work on its own, for strength work on its own or a mixture of both. The point is, you’ve got a lot of options with prowler workouts.
There’s little joint impact with a prowler…
Unlike full sprinting, the technique is typically a slower, steadier push or pull without the explosive bouncing or striding you’d get with a sprint workout. If you’ve got join issues but still want to work on power and explosiveness, prowler workouts could be perfect for you.
Prowler Workout Ideas to try…
Here’s a selection of the prowler workouts I use with my personal training clients and in my general programming at MyGym. You can take these prowler workout ideas and build on them too…
This is the standard prowler exercise – push hard against a medium/heavy prowler. The training effect comes from the amount of work you do, rather than the heavy weight or the speed. They come into other exercises – this is a pure volume play.
Light Weight Prowler Sprint
Use a light weight prowler for this one and sprint – the aim here is to accelerate into the prowler push. It’s not to be done with a heavy prowler, keep weights light an maximise speed.
Prowler Power Rope Drag
This is an exercise designed to build pulling power, not strength. It is done with a light weight on a small prowler, with the aim being to drag the prowler towards you quickly. The medium/light weight makes this possible, so don’t be tempted to overload the prowler for this exercise.
Heavy Prowler Push
The heavy prowler push is simple – you load up a prowler with weight, get low and push hard with your legs. It’s a great strength and muscle builder, plus it doesn’t create much in the way of DOMS so although your legs will be tired the day after, they won’t be sore.
Prowler Push Pull
The is an all-body exercise with the prowler. You tie a battle rope to the prowler and push it until the top is in a straight line. You then jog back to the end of the rope, grab it and pull the prowler towards you. Repeat as many times as required.
Backwards Walking Prowler Drag
Wrap the battle rope around the prowler, hold onto it with two hands and walk backwards, pulling the prowler with you. This exercise can be made much harder with extra weight on the prowler and you can adjust the speed with you do the pulling.
Over the Shoulder Prowler Drag
Another exercise incorporating the battle rope. Loop it around the prowler, grab it by both handles and walk away from the prowler, dragging it behind you. This can be made harder with more weight or a faster pull.
This is a way you can incorporate the prowler into partner workouts – stand at opposite ends and push from one to the other. Can be done with as many participants as you want.
Prowler Shuttle Runs
These are brutal but very effective – set three cones out at 5m, 10m and 15m from a start line. Push the prowler to the 5m cone and back, then to the 10m cone and back and finally the 15m cone and back. These are excellent as a finisher.
Prowler TRX Power Row
The prowler TRX row is a variation on the drag, but we’re looking to use the double-armed technique and focus on the explosive, powerful nature of the pull. The idea is to pull the prowler as far as you can with each row. These are great for building back strength and power.
Who should use a prowler?
In short, anyone who is able to! There’s not a single group of people I can think of who wouldn’t benefit from improved leg strength and power. If you have the ability to push a prowler you should go for it and use these prowler workout ideas as a starting point.
Other you’re a runner, a bodybuilder, CrossFitter, general gym user, a cyclist or anything in between, you’ll be able to find room for prowler sessions in your training programme. As you’ve read in this article, the benefits of prowler workouts are too numerous to ignore – you’ll improve yourself athletically and from a physique perspective whilst keeping your injury risk low.
Incorporating a prowler workout into your programming
You can put prowler workout ideas into your sessions where you see fit, largely. Personally I use them mostly as a finisher, but that’s because I do most of my more complex work beforehand and prowlers don’t much in the way of technique or thinking – just lots of ‘doing’!
I will sometimes use them as the main item of kit in a workout, but typically this will include the use of the ropes to add an upper body element to the session. If I’m using the prowler for a whole workout, I’ll also mix the weight and the intensity to ensure I’m getting plenty of variety in the session.
If you’re using a prowler as a finisher to a session, my advice is to keep things light, keep things high intensity and keep them short. The purpose of a workout finisher is to end a session with a high intensity calorie burn, not spend ages slowly building up to a high intensity. Go hard and fast with little rest in between sets.
Prowler Workout Ideas – Concluded
The prowler is a fantastic and under-appreciated piece of equipment in most gyms, but with these prowler workout ideas and a bit of effort, you’ll see how effective they can be. Throw a few prowler workouts into your training and you’ll see the benefits VERY quickly!
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