Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Slow Prowler Pushes

Jim Wendler has been talking about using a Prowler for a slow walk for strength, instead of at a sprint for conditioning.

This is something I've been using for a while, so it's gratifying to see a widely-respected and knowledgeable athlete/trainer/writer strike onto the same thing.

The idea is simple - instead of running the Prowler, walk it, high handles only, with heavy weight.

What are the advantages to doing this?

Heavy loading with minimal technique. As long as your head and chest are up, and your heels and driving to the floor and your legs straightening, you're doing it correctly. So this allows for loading a client or trainee up, without worrying about teaching them the squat or deadlift. It doesn't achieve the same effect, exactly, but it will make them stronger.

Full-body exercise. The closest analog to a high-handles Prowler walk is pushing a car or truck. Everything from your arms and hands holding the handles to your ankles and feet are involved. You need to tighten your abs and back, and drive with your legs and hips, in order to push the weight.

No bar on your back. For clients and trainees who either can't safely load their spine, or who lack the coordination and strength to do it effectively, a Prowler is a safe alternative. If they become unable to finish the rep, the Prowler just stops moving. It doesn't staple you to the floor or need spotters.

It scales easily. It's easy to load this to be effectively below the weight of an empty bar. And you can add weight easily to make it harder.

Less soreness. Since it has no eccentric (lowering a weight against a load) portion, you will get less sore doing these than you might would other leg exercises.

This will make you stronger, if you work at it. But it does have downsides:

Surface and weather conditions affect the effective loading. Does your turf get slick in wet weather? It'll be harder to get traction on your shoes and you won't be able to push as much. Are you pushing on rough asphalt, smooth asphalt, concrete, or any of a variety of brands of fake turf? How much can push will change.

It doesn't teach tension. While you can push more weight if you stay tight from head to toe, you don't have to stay tight to move it if the weight is relatively low.

It takes special equipment and a lot of room. You need a Prowler or a knock-off sled, and space to push it. If that's indoors, you can do it year-round. If you do it outdoors, it's strongly dependent on weather and time of day.

For all of its downsides, if you have a Prowler or equivalent sled, try doing slow, heavy pushes. Drive your heel to the ground and walk the sled, and you will get stronger.

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