“They should call this Hell.”
The Prowler 2 (more commonly known as The Prowler) is essentially a weighted sled that can be pushed and/or pulled on pavement, asphalt, and/or turf; it’s great for general conditioning and lower body strength and endurance. Additionally, in my opinion, it definitely facilitates gains in speed, especially off the line and therefore translates into faster 40 times.
I’ve said, semi-seriously, that there are two kinds of athletes in the world, those who push the Prowler and those who don’t. If you’re a member of the former group, you’re painfully aware that sprinting with the prowler is strenuous exercise to say the least.
We’ve been asked on occasion what causes the Prowler Flu. I’ve done my best to answer the question in this blog, so without further delay, here’s what sometimes physiologically transpires after an athlete sprints extensively with what is affectionately known as The Vomit Rocket.
Blood flow patterns change during strenuous exercise. The action sympathetic nervous system, which generally controls the body’s fight-or-flight response, redirects blood flow from “non-essential” areas to those areas that are active during strenuous/exhaustive exercise (i.e. the muscle tissue).
Approximately 15 to 20% of resting cardiac output is allocated to muscle tissues. However, during exhaustive exercise, like Prowler sprints, the body’s muscle tissue receives approximately 80 to 85% of the cardiac output.
The reduction of blood flow to the body’s vital organs (i.e. kidneys, liver, stomach, and intestines), can cause the feeling of nausea and the subsequent vomiting, we affectionately refer to as The Prowler Flu.
The diversion of oxygen-carrying red blood cells to the working muscle tissue can also lead to feelings of being light-headed due to lack of sufficient oxygen to other systems.
Another potential cause of nausea and vomiting after a strenuous prowler program is dehydration. Pushing the Prowler causes an athlete to sweat. Excessive sweating results in a loss of both moisture and salts from your body; both are necessary for maintaining the body’s electrolyte balance. Disturbances in electrolyte balance can result in nausea and vomiting.
A lot of heat is generated within the body when an athlete exercises with the Prowler. Heat exhaustion is a leading cause of dehydration. When bodily fluids are not replaced it may result in vomiting and nausea. Strenuous exercise with the Prowler, coupled with hot and humid weather, could further intensify the nausea and vomiting.
Prowler Flu Prevention
Now that we’ve discussed some of the causes of Prowler Flu, let’s briefly discuss some preventative measures.
The human body has the remarkable ability to adapt, over time, to imposed demands. Based on our experience with intense Prowler training, the majority of our athletes adapt quickly to the demands of this type of conditioning. It’s not unusual for one of our athletes to experience nausea and vomit when pushing the prowler for the first time, but it is atypical for the nausea and vomiting to continue in subsequent sessions.
It’s very important to keep the body hydrated during intense Prowler training. Water represents roughly 45 to 60% of an adult athlete’s total body weight. The variation is explained by the difference in body tissue proportions between individuals, with muscle comprising 80% water compared to fat, which is only 20% water. Maintaining a constant fluid volume will help keep the cardio-respiratory system functioning properly (i.e. facilitating proper delivery of blood and therefore sufficient oxygen to the working muscles).
The Prowler is an awesome training tool to develop strength in an athlete’s legs, hips, and arms. It can be used in team situations and competitions, and definitely makes for a great atmosphere. It is a tool that should definitely be implemented in the training of all serious athletes. Prowler Flu isn’t pleasant, but at times it can be a short-term side effect of intense training.
Stay hydrated and in the words of Jim Valvano – Don’t give up; don’t ever give up!