Any legitimate training facilities you walk into will have several things in common when it comes to the equipment. There will always be the staple pieces like barbells and dumbbells, but quite possibly the most underrated piece is the Prowler Sled.
Of course, they are nothing new. Prowler exercises have been in use for decades, helping people get stronger, faster and more powerful. But now, more than ever, the accessibility of the sled is at an all-time high, and there are more ways to use it than we originally thought.
When building a complete athlete, many factors come into play. Depending on the athlete’s age, experience level, skill level, sport(s) and position(s), their training could change accordingly—not to mention their movement patterns and injury history.
But to keep things tidy, let’s look at some major attributes we want, generally, to develop in athletes: strength, power and the ability to control their movements safely. There is more to it than that, but those three things can be optimally built with the sled–and in ways that carry over to sport and to other, more common exercise techniques.
Here are three of my go-to prowler exercises that can help enhance an athlete from the inside out.
Prowler Drag Bear Crawls
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The Bear Crawl is one of the best bang-for-your-buck exercises I can think of. It has all the qualities you look for in a low-risk, high-reward movement.
Bear Crawls alone are awesome for improving mobility and simultaneously working on stability—i..e, learning how to be more in control of your movement—something every person on the planet can benefit from.
By adding a small amount of load behind your body, you can take the Bear Crawl to a new level of effectiveness. I prefer to load this exercise behind the body (as shown) instead of on top of the body with chains, weights, vests, etc.
Dragging the sled while you bear crawl provides an external load while you’re in motion, forcing you to control the weight and the movement. The flip side is that there is no load when you’re not in motion—it’s not just pushing down on you like a plate on your back or a weighted vest would be. So you get resistance when you need it, and a break when you stop. You can breathe, reach and reset each rep without an external load pulling you further out of position. This is a similar concept to the Max Tension Plank (a.k.a. the RKC Plank), as you alternate between a hard contraction and relaxation.
In addition to becoming stronger and more stable throughout your whole body, this can also help your movement timing, mental focus and conditioning.
Prowler Split Jerk
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This is what I call a faux-lympic lift. Olympic lifting ranks among the most beneficial forms of training for many athletes, but the lifts are highly technical and more difficult to coach, plus they carry a higher risk than other exercises. Which is why I often incorporate moves like these, which deliver similar benefits but with less risk. I’ve had great success personally and with clients by implementing not-quite-Olympic lifts in training programs.
The Prowler Split Jerk is one of my favorites to use as a power-building teaching tool that can eventually progress to a Split Jerk with a barbell overhead. At its core, it’s an upper-body push, loaded and performed for power development, with a split landing. Of course, it’s not the same, but it can be looked at as pretty similar to an Olympic Jerk.
I like this because you don’t have to go overhead or even use a barbell to work on your split stance landing, which can be so impactful in sports. You get a great pressing exercise that’s easy on the shoulders and requires a lot of athleticism to pull off, yet is ultra-safe for everyone.
Even if it’s for a few sessions, the benefits of the Prowler Split Jerk will show up later in other lifts and, of course, during games!
Prowler High Pull
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The Prowler High Pull is another fauxlympic lift, and another one of my favorites. Here, we’re working on triple extension (extending the ankles, knees and hips) with a high pull that is close to the movement you do in Cleans and Snatches. You can implement this with a barbell, but it gives you another resource for getting into that position safely.
The greatest thing about this is that you have instant balance feedback, which you won’t get from the barbell. The key is to get into ankle, knee and hip extension with the High Pull and hold that position to truly own it. The exercise stops there. The rep doesn’t count if you fall forward or backwards.
This is great for jumping athletes, because it demands true lower-body balance through strength, which is much more effective than gimmicky balance training.
Aside from tuning up your balance, you can obviously use this to progress into a Clean or Snatch by mastering the timing of your high pull and hip motion. It’s also really fun to do.
Give these a try, not instead of but in conjunction with your other training protocols and see if any of them resonate with your goals.