Whether you’re currently in-season or still in the middle of your off-season training utilizing the sled/prowler can be a great addition to your training programs!
Here’s 10 Benefits of Using The Prowler/Sled:
1. Improves Unilateral Lower Body Strength
Heavy ASS Sled pushes/drags are one of my go to exercises for improving unilateral lower body strength with our athletes! In fact, it’s a record at my facility in Austin, TX. Here’s University of Texas Commit, Dalton Porter breaking the gym record by sled pushing 1,000 pounds!
I especially like heavy sled drags/pushes for our younger athletes as I’m able to load them extremely heavy without a bar on their back. With younger guys it becomes very challenging to load them heavy unilaterally or bilaterally when they’re a beginner in the weight room. Programming wise for heavy sled pushes, I will have my athletes perform anywhere from 5-10 sets for 10 total yards.
2. You Won’t Get Sore – There’s ZERO eccentric stress associated with this exercise. The eccentric portion (lowering portion) of an exercise is what contributes to the most muscular damage and soreness. Obviously, this is something you want to avoid in-season as muscular fatigue/soreness will hinder on-field outputs.
3. Improves Lower Body Speed & Power
Contrast training is something I’ve been utilizing quite frequently with my athletes over the past few years. This contrast pairing (shown below) in particular has produced BIG TIME results. I started using this contrast in my own training years ago when I was still playing. My speed/60 yard dash sucked and this pairing improved my acceleration technique/speed every single time. The heavy sled sprint forces you to run in the correct form of acceleration. By doing this prior to the sprint it forces you to run with good acceleration technique when you perform your unloaded 10-yard sprint.
4. Improves Upper Body Strength (Back, Shoulders, Core)
The heavy hand over-over hand rope sled pull is another max-effort upper body exercise I will use with my athletes to build strength in the upper back, forearms, biceps, and core! You can do this exercise standing or seated on the floor for 4-6 sets of 10-20 yards
Two of my favorite movements for the core, shoulders, and grip with the prowler are high plank rope pulls, and walking farmer carries while performing a sled pull with the prowler. I usually program these for my athletes at the conclusion of their workouts as more of a “finisher”.
5. Improves Acceleration Sprint Mechanics
Contrary to other unloaded sprint variations, the heavy sled drag and heavy sled push allow you to learn and practice acceleration mechanics at slower speeds. To perform these exercises you need to posses a good forward body lean, and maintain a good positive shin angle. For example, with heavy sled drags (shown below) if you don’t posses a good shin angle and forward body lean you’re not dragging the sled anywhere! This drill literally FORCES you maintain good acceleration mechanics throughout.
6. Improves Core Strength/Stability – Another added benefit to sled sprints and heavy sled pushes is the challenge it presents to the core. To keep the sled in the straight line you NEED to stay tight and brace your midsection. If you lose your core while trying to push the sled you will not be able to keep the sled going in a straight path.
7. Enhances Hip and Ankle Mobility – This is assuming that you’re trying to get full hip extension on each stride. By doing this you’re able to get a huge dynamic stretch of the hip flexors as well as the calves and achilles.
8. Trains Scapular Stability and Upward Rotation – Another benefit of sled pushes that’s overlooked by many is regarding the shoulder. When performing heavy sled pushes and sled push sprints you’re also improving scapular stability and driving good scapular upward rotation. Both of which are massively important to the overhead throwing athlete.
9. It’s a fantastic tool for improving G.P.P. (General Physical Preparedness) /conditioning – Here’s a few sample conditioning routines utilizing the prowler that you can try:
Sample Prowler Push Workouts with 45 LB plate on each side of sled:
Week 1: 10 Sled Push Sprints x 20 yards – Rest: EMOM
Week 2: 12 Sled Push Sprints x 20 yards – Rest: EMOM
Week 3: 15 Sled Push Sprints x 30 yards – Rest: EMOM
Week 4: 20 Sled Push Sprints x 20 yards – Rest: EMOM
Rest Periods: EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute)
Every Minute on The Minute: Right before you perform your first prowler sprint start your stop watch. When the clock hits 1 minute you will begin your next sled sprint
10. They’re great for insanely hard challenges – These aren’t a staple in my athletes training. However, I do like using them periodically with my athletes as more of a gut check – to see what athletes are mentally tough. I also will use these with athletes as punishment/motivation. For example, if an athlete comes in to the gym late for his training session he has to do prowler suicides. Needless to say, no one shows up to the gym late anymore. Here’s a BRUTAL prowler challenge I’ll use with the guys:
Prowler Pyramid Challenge – Rest 90 seconds after each set
Set 1: One 45 LB plate on each side of sled x 20 yards
Set 2: Two 45 LB plates on each side of sled x 20 yards
Set 3: Three 45 LB plates on each side of sled x 20 yards
Set 4: Four 45 LB plates on each side of sled x 20 yards
Set 5: Five 45 LB plates on each side of sled x 20 yards
Set 6: Four 45 LB plates on each side of sled x 20 yards
Set 7: Three 45 LB plates on each side of sled x 20 yards
Set 8: Two 45 LB plates on each side of sled x 20 yards
Set 9: One 45 LB plate on each side of sled x 20 yards
Don’t be fooled, this challenge is WAY harder than it looks! Have fun!
Hopefully this article was helpful! If you have any additional comments or questions please feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org