Scientific evidence on the benefits of strength training proves that it can be beneficial for overall health. Not only does it help in gaining more strength, but it also helps burn fat, improve cardiovascular health and lower the risk of injury, among others. Due to its multiple benefits, the strongman sled or “prowler” has become one of the most popular strength exercises. So much so, that it’s already part of the workout routines of a growing number of professional athletes and Hollywood stars such as Chris Hemsworth, who’s currently preparing for “Thor 4” by integrating a prowler into his workout routine.
What is a Strongman Sled?
A prowler consists of two grab bars and a space to place weight to act as a ballast. Thanks to its simplicity, sled exercises can be performed even at home. Using a prowler can improve resistance, strength, and power, which is ideal for those who practice sports such as football or rugby. But even those people who just want to stay in great physical shape can still reap huge benefits.
Several studies indicate that this exercise contributes to enhancing body composition due to its high metabolic demand. It also increases speed, improves muscle function, and is a comprehensive exercise that trains a large number of muscles simultaneously, such as the quadriceps, glutes, calves, hamstrings, abdominals, hip flexors, chest, triceps, and shoulders.
How to Properly Use a Strongman Sled
The first step is to choose a weight according to your physical condition and training objectives. Beginners can use the sled without weight, but for more experienced athletes, it’s recommended to load the sled as follows: 25% of the maximum load for speed and endurance training, and 70% of the maximum load or body weight for strength training. It’s also a good idea to install athletic turf to reduce injuries whenever you use the sled. This is because turf can provide greater traction and at the same time, better impact absorption in case of a slip.
Once the weight is determined, the basic position is to stand directly in front of the sled and grab the bars, one in each hand, at a high or medium level. Next, extend your arms and hold the sled, place your feet further back and push the sled forward. As you take steps, let the balls of your feet take your weight to improve momentum. Your steps should be short, and it’s advisable to direct your eyes towards the ground to avoid overloading your cervical and to help keep your back straight.
To train speed, push the sled as fast as possible for 10-20 yards, taking 60-second breaks and repeating 4-6 times. The strength routine is similar, but it’s done at a lower speed, while in endurance training the sled should be pushed for one minute, taking 30-second breaks, repeating 5-10 times.
Other Ways To Workout With a Strongman Sled
One of the most common variations of the basic exercise involves using a harness and straps to move the sled. In this case, the exercise consists in pulling the sled instead of pushing it, but with your back to it. Another similar option is to use a harness to work with lateral displacement, but this modality requires an extra effort due to the lateral movements. It’s important to alternate directions to work both parts of the body equally. Another tricky exercise is the bear crawl. In this case, you’ll need to put your hands on the ground and move by dragging the sled, crawling with your knees bent, but without touching the ground.
More and more athletes are turning to the strongman sled to improve their endurance, strength and power. Although it’s a simple exercise, it’s important to take the necessary measures to avoid injuries, and use a weight according to the particular physical condition. When in doubt, it’s recommended to talk to a personal trainer to be properly guided while using this fitness equipment.