About two years ago, I developed an unhealthy relationship. My wife told me I was a damn fool to get involved but to hell with her. She wasn’t me, and I knew what I was doing. A few hits here or there. No big deal. I was completely in control, and I could quit at any time.

Then I hit bottom this past month. After 24 months of dedicated service, my Prowler broke up with me. I mean it literally broke. The ski came off in the middle of an uphill push. I finished, but I have yet to explain the foot long plow line in the street by my home.

Withdrawal was harsh and brutal. No more weekend Prowler sprints. No more distance walks with my daughters, who lovingly talked about how weak and slow I was (one’s five years old and the other is two). No more burning chest pain and aching forearms. I felt weak, fat, and well, downright useless. I tried dragging implements and even did some Strongman work, but the loss was just unbearable.

But a new hope was discovered this past week. I put a plate on the rubber track of my school’s gym floor and pushed for 40 yards. The feeling was euphoric. It sucked, but damn I missed this! I tried to do this outside, but grass was easy and pavement was just too rough on the plates and hands. This rubber surface and plate combination provided the right resistance and sucked enough to make me start doing a weekly series of 40- and 20-yard sprints.

Because I didn’t like it, it meant the kids I coach were going to like it even less! As the kids pushed, cried, dry heaved, puked, and crawled to the end, true conditioning was discovered by this contingent of high school athletes. No amount of distance runs or sprint work equates to moving a plate one tenth of a mile.

Not content to stop there, I started using heavy dumbbells and created new and wonderful implement drills to obliterate the physical and mental limitations of my kids. The first one was based on Mr. DeFranco’s New Jersey hell protocols, But due to the lack of uprights, there had to be something to do in between the sprints. So I created the following drill to work the body in a fatigued movement state:

Sprint 40 yards Body weight squats, 20 reps Rest 45 seconds


Sprint 40 yards Push-ups to failure (max of 50) Rest 45 seconds

Sprint 40 yards Burpees, 15 Rest 45 seconds

Sprint 40 yards Pikes, 15 Rest two minutes


This works well for large athletic teams because you simply don’t get to half ass it. Your teammates will point you out, and the plate will simply stop if you try and go slow.

For added difficulty, I put the following together for a few off-season kids to get in extra work in without killing themselves. This is more of a circuit style program that pushes you to work but not to the point of exhaustion. I usually have my athletes perform this in a repetitive cycle so they don’t stop for 10–15 minutes.

Rope skips, 50–100 total Plate push, 50 steps Medicine ball hip thruster, 15 Deadlift, 10 Hang clean, 10 Abdominal rotation, 20 per side with a 25-lb or heavier plate Hip thrusts, 15

The key is to perform the deadlifts and the hang cleans with maximal effort on a moderate load. My PR on the deadlift is 600 lbs, but I keep the deadlift weight at 250–300 lbs. This is for force and speed. The same goes for the hang clean. You can grind out ten, but I want you to pop ten out with emphasis on form and with an explosive movement. I haven’t had a team do this yet, but I can see the benefits if implemented correctly. Well, that’s it. If you have wet dreams about a Prowler but no cash to buy one, grab a plate and get ta pushin!

Adam Plagens is the strength and conditioning coach for Saline High School in Saline, Michigan. He is completing his master’s degree in health education while raising a family of three along with his three-lift total.