Though athletes and workers have long pushed or pulled heavy weights, the idea of the Prowler is a relatively new one. Who amongst us, upon seeing this shining behemoth on the gym floor has not been tempted to try it out?
As an admittedly recent convert to the Prowler, I’m somewhat late to the party. As is so often the case, something comes along, everyone raves about it, and I grow incredibly cynical about it. Louis Cyr didn’t use one, why should I etc. While this attitude served me in good stead with the Swiss Ball, it led my astray with the Prowler. Putting my pettiness aside, I finally tried the device several months ago and have been hooked ever since.
It has kicked my ass on several occasions thereby leading my mind to the object of today’s post. What sadistic individual invented the Prowler? And what heinous group promoted its use?
Who Invented the Prowler?
Though some have claimed antecedents, the Prowler as we know it can be traced to the early 2000s. Clemson University of South Carolina, were undergoing some renovations to their enviable gymnasium. Under the supervision of Joey Batson, the University’s head of strength and conditioning, Williams Strength had been contracted to help supply standardised equipment and also help customise some builds specific to the team.
Being from Ireland, my knowledge of American Football in general is non-existent and my knowledge of Collegiate football is even lower. So if anyone has better information on Batson please let me know, because cards on the table, I’m a fanboy. In interviews and videos, the guy comes across as knowledgable, passionate about his subject and incredibly no-nonsense. Though subject at times to some incredibly detailed criticism, the long term coach has remained, validating one supposes, his training philosophy. Inspired by the work of Louie Simmons and Westside, Batson appears to place a great emphasis on the development of power and speed as a foundation to success. It is from this emphasis that the modern prowler was born.
You see back in 2004 when Williams Strength came to Batson he presented them with a new and exciting piece of equipment that would soon be known as the Prowler. Made entirely from wood, the device was designed specifically with his Linemen in mind. Seeking to increase the athlete’s hip drive from a low position, Batson wanted a heavy duty version of his prototype. According to StartingStrength, Batson was adamant that the prowler must have 3 skids, 2 vertical handles that weight could be loaded onto, and a low horizontal handle.
Williams Strength took the great man’s ideas and ran with it. The coach got what he wanted and an new idea had just emerged in the strength and conditioning community.
Who Popularised It?
Though the history is unclear, we know that very soon after Batson got his heavy duty prowler, Williams Strength had begun to play around with the idea of mass producing the Prowler.
By 2005, Dave Tate’s EliteFTS began a collaboration with Williams Strength to create the first mass prowler. What is interesting about this is that as early as 2001, if not earlier, Tate had been extolling the benefits of sleds for physical conditioning. This interest perhaps explains Tate’s waxing lyrical about the Prowler in 2006 under the attention grabbing headline ‘We’re all going to die’! Melancholy aside, the Prowler, or Prowler 2 as it was termed, had been born!
Well through EliteFTS and subsequently the likes of Joe DeFranco, Prowler training began to enter the training zeitgeist in real effect from 2011 onwards.
The most powerful advertising tool, was not however the endorsement of two lifting legends but rather the then burgeoning phenomena of Youtube. As the social media outlet became more and more popular, we were treated to scores of videos featuring people having their asses kicked by the Prowler. This 2007 video from EliteFTS shows exactly what I mean
Such videos spurred the creation of the term Prowler Flu, which as anyone who had pushed it too hard on the device will know, is a rather apt description for the device’s impact!
As a Final Word
If anyone is looking for some variation with the Prowler, the below video was pretty useful
As always…Happy Lifting!