Six New Uses for the Prowler®

TAGS: Molly Galbraith, energy systems training, mental toughness, prowler, Rehabilitation

elitefts™ Sunday Edition

Loved, hated, revered, and feared—there aren’t very many pieces of equipment that strike fear in the hearts of professional athletes and weekend warriors quite like the Prowler®. If you aren't familiar with the Prowler®, where the hell have you been hiding? (You certainly haven’t been keeping up with elitefts ™ like you should!)

The Prowler® is famous for crushing even the most in-shape humans on the planet, but there’s a lot more the Prowler® can do besides just “crush people” (which most people don’t really need anyway). Read below to find out six other really awesome uses for the Prowler®.

1. Energy systems training

When most people think of energy systems training (or “cardio” for the uninitiated), they typically think of high intensity interval training (HITT), and they often perform twenty- to thirty-second intervals with 30–60 seconds of rest several times. While this type of interval training is fine and can be great for fat loss, there are other methods you can use to train energy system qualities that carry over better to sports performance. One of these qualities is explosive repeatability, which is especially good for team sport athletes, Strongman competitors, or any individual needing to improve explosive endurance.

According to conditioning expert Joel Jamieson, author of Ultimate MMA Conditioning, this type of Prowler® training is extremely effective because it “improves the endurance of the fast twitch fibers so that they are able to maintain their power output longer without fatigue. This means that in scenarios where you need to be as explosive as possible for as long as possible, you’ll be better equipped to maintain your speed and power while everyone else is slowing down.”

Joel was kind enough to provide a fantastic workout to train explosive repeatability. Check it out below:

Explosive repeatability workout

  • Warm up as necessary.
  • Perform an explosive Prowler® push against high resistance for 5–6 seconds.
  • Perform an active recovery movement (jog, body weight squats, jump rope, etc.) for 30–45 seconds.
  • Repeat 12–15 times.

2. Recovery

Despite the Prowler's® reputation for bringing the pain, it’s actually a fantastic recovery tool. Doing very light, continuous Prowler® pushes will increase blood flow to muscles and therefore bring more nutrients to the muscles for repair. Also, because there isn't any loaded eccentric portion of the movement, it shouldn’t leave you sore. In fact, in my experience, it actually shortens the amount of time I experience muscle soreness if I use it the day after a grueling workout. So the Prowler® is a fantastic option for those days when you may feel overworked and sore and you want to speed up your recovery.

Recovery workout:

  • Warm up as necessary.
  • Load the Prowler® as needed for relatively low resistance (the amount of weight will vary based on the Prowler® and the surface on which you are pushing the Prowler®). A rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of 3–4 is usually good.
  • Push the Prowler® on the high poles at a slow to moderate pace continuously for 15–20 minutes.
  • Takes breaks as necessary and ensure that your heart rate doesn’t rise above 150 beats per minute.

3. Single leg strength work

One of the most underrated uses for the Prowler®, in my opinion, is for single leg strength work. We use it with many of our clients from the general population to young athletes. It’s a great way to increase lower body strength while giving the spine a break from heavy loading.

It works especially well with our young athletes because many of them have played one sport their entire life and they tend to be weak and have poor overall movement quality. Thus, they often can’t perform the big bang exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges well.

Recently, I was discussing this with my good friend and elitefts™ training log team member, Julia Ladewski (http://julialadewski.com/). Julia is a professional powerlifter with elite totals in three separate weight classes. She is also the program director of the Parisi Speed School and works with hundreds of young athletes every week.

Here's what she had to say:

“With our younger athletes, I like to use Prowler® pushing toward the end of the workout as an accessory exercise or a finisher. If we’re working on sprint mechanics, I want them to be fresh for the technical work. Then we can hit the strength work at the end. If the workout is strength focused, this would still be an accessory lift (after squats or deadlifts). I would use this as a main movement if it was someone whom I couldn’t load for squats or deadlifts or someone who would benefit from the mobility work required to perform a single leg movement like this.

For a main movement, I would use a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of seven for approximately thirty yards (walking) and really work on driving through the ball of the foot. For an accessory movement, I would suggest using a RPE of 4–6 depending on the athlete and the work being done. The lower the RPE, the longer the distance.”

4. Rehabilitation

At our gym, we're lucky enough to get referrals from several physical therapists, massage therapists, and orthopedic surgeons. As you can imagine, many of our clients are post-surgery and/or dealing with some type of pain. The Prowler® can be an absolutely fantastic rehabilitation tool for these clients. In fact, my business partner, Jim Laird of J&M Strength and Conditioning, has used the Prowler® with many of his clients after back, knee, and hip surgeries with great success.

Obviously, every situation is different and not every post-surgery client will be able to push the Prowler® safely. Please consult with your client’s doctor and/or physical therapist to ensure they're only performing movements that they are capable of performing safely.

Here's a basic workout that Jim recommended:

Rehabilitation workout example

When working with a client of this nature, it’s very important to start slowly and work within his or her capabilities. Jim offered the following sample workout as an example of something he has done in the past with his clients:

  • Light Prowler® (weight will vary depending on surface) X 40 yards on high handles X 3–5 sets
  • Suitcase carry X 20–40 yards X 3–5 sets

Allow almost full recovery in between sets. The rate of perceived exertion on a scale of 1–10 should be 3–5. You must work within the client’s current ability level.

5. Assessment

Yes, assessments. This is another one that I learned from my good friend and business partner, Jim Laird. Before we ever attended any formal assessment training courses like Diagnosis Fitness, Jim used a basic warm up and some Prowler® pushing to assess how clients moved and figure out what they needed to get better. Keep in mind, I don’t recommend this as a sole assessment process for most people. Jim happens to be very talented when it comes to his natural ability to assess people.

Jim adds, “By observing how someone pushes the Prowler®, you can get some clues as to the tightness and function of their hips, their glute strength, where they get their core stability, and much more.”

Some common observations and their general indications are as follows:

  1. Knee cave/valgus—glute/hip weakness
  2. Excessive internal hip rotation (often on one side) —glute/hip weakness, hip stiffness, pelvic rotation
  3. Trouble achieving long, neutral spine—core instability, thoracic spine stiffness
  4. Excessive curve/hinge in spine—core instability
  5. Wobbly/shaky midsection—core instability

Please keep in mind that this is not a substitute for a full assessment. If you aren't well versed in assessing clients, make sure you check out the Diagnosis Fitness course offered by my coach and elitefts™ Q&A contributor Mike Robertson (#).

6. Mental toughness

This one is a no-brainer. It isn't called Prowler® flu for no reason! My clients always ask me when the Prowler® will get easier. My response? It won’t. That’s the point.

Whether you’re doing aerobic work, interval training, or extremely heavy single leg strength work with the Prowler®, it will always be taxing and challenging for your entire body. It’s also a really safe way to develop mental toughness. Think about the likelihood of injury during a set of 20-rep squats versus a heavy Prowler® push. It should be quite obvious that the Prowler® is a much safer method (although 20-rep squats have their place!). It’s very common in society today to be weak and weak willed and avoid things that are difficult. Being able to challenge yourself and develop mental toughness is a skill that will translate into many areas of your life.

Here's one of my favorites:

Mental toughness workout

  • Heavy Prowler® push X 50 yards (RPE 8–9)
  • Weighted wall sits X 30–60 seconds (RPE 8–9)
  • Side planks (focus on proper form) X 30–60 seconds per side
  • Repeat circuit 4–6 times with minimal rest in between exercises or circuits

When performing this workout, focusing on form is key. During the wall sit, your thighs should be approximately parallel to the ground with a tall chest, tight stomach, and ribs down. On the plank, you should have a completely neutral spine and head, tight glutes, and tight abs.

There you have it! There are six uses for the Prowler® other than simply crushing someone’s heart and soul. The Prowler® is such an amazing and versatile piece of equipment. If you don’t have one, grab one today!

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