The prowler is elegant in its simplicity. You put weights on it and push it back and forth until you can’t push it anymore. It’s pretty difficult to hurt yourself with it and you feel like a badass when you use it. We’ve been lucky to have access to one at our gym and have slowly turned it into one of the main focuses of our workout sessions.
Our current block of training calls for muscular endurance work, denoted as a work volume/intensity where the legs burn out before the cardio vascular system does. The typical way to use the prowler is short suicide sprints. These work by building up your maximum ability to perform work anaerobically by taxing your entire body very very quickly. We built some suicide sessions into our initial maximum strength block of training and were lucky enough to not catch the prowler flu (also gross, but funny). As brutal and effective as this was, however, it did little or nothing towards building muscular endurance in our legs as a typical ‘rep’ would only last ~30 seconds.
We’ve switched our methodology to work on sled pushes for longer blocks of time with resistance that keeps our heart rate in pre-determined zones (either zone 1 or zone 3 depending on what we need at any particular time) for the pre-set work time frame.
We’ve settled into working for sets of ten minute blocks. This time frame allows a suitable amount of recovery between sets while still giving each of us time to work on the sled, trading off to rest while the other guy works. We’ve been progressing by adding both weight and sets. I recently completed four sets of ten minutes with ~150lbs on the sled, at an intensity level that kept my HR in Zone 3 the entire time. This is hard work. It severely fatigues my propulsion system. I’d like to work up to being able to do six sets of ten minutes over the next two months.
Given our lack of major hills to work our legs on, the prowler used in this way seems to be an effective method to build ‘heavy’ endurance in the legs, hips and lower back. It’s not directly related to the movement patterns we’ll have while alpine climbing but I’m hoping that it stresses the same systems enough that we’ll see some carryover.
For bonus points throw in sets of squats during your ten minute rests if you hate yourself and/or don’t need to move the next day. For more inspiration on how to use the prowler in your workouts check out ‘Death by Prowler,’ an article from some strength coaches that love the sled even more than I do. If your gym doesn’t have one, then find a new gym.
Does anyone else have an opinion on this? I can’t find much online literature regarding using a sled to build endurance in the drive muscles in this way so I’m flying blind.