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Your conditioning program is not complete without exercises that tax the whole body, and not having access to a Prowler or a traditional weight sled is no excuse for not getting it done. Enter treadmill pushing, a simple but effective group of exercises performed with the one piece of equipment found in virtually every commercial gym in the world…unplugged.
“Prowlers and treadmill pushing are pretty similar,” says Keir Wenham-Flatt, a London-based trainer. “With treadmill pushing and with the Prowler, you get whole-body tension, and great energy systems work.”
The setup is straightforward. Instead of weight plates stacked on a sled, the belt of the powered-down treadmill provides the resistance.
Lactic acid tolerance training is another benefit of treadmill pushing, according to Wenham-Flatt. “Since your legs are responsible for keeping the belt moving,” he says, “you get a ton of lactic acid buildup. With the whole-body tension, there’s nowhere for that lactic acid to go.”
Try these treadmill pushing variations in your next conditioning workout, either at intervals—60 seconds high intensity (fast) followed by 30 seconds low intensity—or as a finisher: three minutes as hard as you can manage.
All variations are performed with the power turned off. Don’t worry about damaging the equipment, either. In two years of steady use with clients (including many pro Rugby players), he says he’s never damaged a machine.
Assume a pushup position facing away from the dashboard, with your hands on the floor behind the treadmill and your feet on the belt. Brace your abs and drive the belt. This position provides more core work than any of the other movements listed here.
Hold onto the dashboard of a regular treadmill, keep your head up, and your spine in a stiff, neutral position. Drive the belt with your legs by “pawing” at it with your feet. Drive through your heels as you move the belt to work glutes and hamstrings or get on your toes to put more emphasis on your quads.
Stand on a treadmill with your back to the dashboard, hold on tight to the handrails, and drive the belt. It can be an unnatural feeling to have your feet moving away from you, so focus on staying upright.
Turn on the treadmill and program it for maximum incline. When it reaches its max height, shut it off, then mount the treadmill after it has come to a complete stop and perform a normal forward push.