In this article we will discuss the prowler push, a versatile piece of equipment to train muscle hypertrophy, leg strength, metabolic conditioning, and more. We will cover five benefits of prowler pushes and a thorough exercise demonstration and guidelines for coaches and athletes alike.
What Is a Prowler Push?
A prowler is a specific type of sled that allows you to load multiple plates onto it to increase the resistance that one must work against when pushing (or pulling the sled/weight). This can also have a variety of handle placements (high, low, vertical, horizontal) to help coaches and athletes train a wide array of angles.
In the below video, Mark Rippetoe goes in great detail about the two different ways to push a prowler (1) being highly compressed on the spine vs the other (2) being more disruptive and challenging to the core, trunk, and hip musculature. Be sure to watch the video below, where I fast forwarded to the specific part in which he goes in great detail about set up and pushing considerations (about the 10:00min mark).
5 Benefits of the Prowler Push
Below are five benefits of the prowler push that coaches and athletes can expect to see when done for either time, max effort strength, distance, or other training metric.
1. Leg and Core Hypertrophy
Increased muscle hypertrophy is a primary benefit from doing long duration (45-90 seconds) prowler pushes. By pushing the sled at the above angles (described in the video by Mark Rippetoe), you challenge the quads, glutes, abdominals, erectors,and upper body to stay rigid and contract for prolonged periods of time, which has been shown (time under tension training) to increase muscle growth. This is a great way for lifters who have injuries and/or are trying to limit spinal loading yet looking to add quality muscle mass and training volume within their training programs.
2. Active Recovery
Prowler pushes and sled training is a great way to increase blood flow to active tissues for recovery purposes (when done at lower intensities). Prowler pushes involve concentric muscle contractions, meaning that they do not induce eccentric strains upon the muscles (which have been linked to delayed onset muscle soreness). IN doing so, you limit muscle soreness all while helping to increase blood flow to damaged muscle tissues (from previous training to ultimately increase the recovery process of the body.
3. Work Capacity / Conditioning
The prowler push is a great modality for low impact conditioning and work capacity training for nearly every athlete. Whether you goals are power, strength, muscle endurance, or weight loss, the prowler push can be modified (based on loading, time intervals, rest periods, etc) to fit the needs and exercise physiology of the sport.
4. Sprint Mechanics
When angles are changed so that they are similar hip and knee angles found in sprint mechanics, the prowler can be a great way to increase leg drive and force output (unilaterally). By doing so, you can increase the force output and ground reaction forces of the lower body during running, sprinting, and other athletic movements, helping to create faster, stronger strides.
5. Functional and Sport Training
Pushing the prowler, cars, opponents, and handling loads in dynamic ways is a key skill and foundational movement pattern that many humans should have within their skill set. Throughout most sports, human interactions, or daily life, the ability to contract the core, upper body, and carry/pull/push heavy loads can come in handy. Doing this safely by learning proper hip angles, leverages, core stability, and developing enough muscle mass are al benefits of the prowler push and can have a drastic impact on one’s athleticism and functional fitness and strength.
Prowler Push Alternatives
In an earlier article we discussed a few prowler push alternatives for individuals who may lack proper space or equipment to perform prowler pushed. The above benefits are not necessarily exclusive to the prowler push, but rather the movement patterning. Therefore, many of these exercise in the above link can be substituted into any training regimen to bring about similar training outcomes.
Featured Image: @leiwillbefit on Instagram
Editor’s Note: CJ Murphy — ISSA SSC, MFS, IKFF Level 1, RPR Level 1, KMS Level 1, C-ISSN — had the following comments on this article. Murphy is a former strongman competitor and former National Powerlifting Champion, with almost 30 years as coach and nutritionist. He’s also a member of the Advisory Board to Muscle and Fitness Magazine, and a member of Team EliteFTS. He owns and coaches at Total Performance Sports.
The Prowler is one of the most versatile tools we have available.
It can be used for:
At TPS we use Prowlers daily for many goals with our athletes and clients.
A favorite drill that we use that is not listed is and Arm over arm pull to a push.
Attach a rope to one end and stand up and arm over arm pull as if in a Strongman event, when you get to the end of the rope, sprint it back.