I was recently sent a link to a letter in response to my “5 Drill That Are Better Than the Prowler” article, which was recently published on T-nation. The letter, which I’ve copied below, was written by “The Angry Coach”, who writes a General Log on EliteFTS.com.
The Angry Coach’s letter is well written and brings up a few points in regards to my Prowler article, which I feel do deserve some clarification. So, below his letter you’ll find my responses.
Note: Before you read today’s post, you should read my Prowler article here first!
An Open Letter to A Guy Who Wrote an Article on a Really Popular Training Site
By The Angry Coach (originally published here)
I don’t know you, nor do I know anything about you, what you do, or how you train people. If your website and social networking presence are any indication, you’re running a successful business, and you’re likely helping lots of people. This is a difficult industry from which to feed your kids and put a roof over your head, so you’re probably doing a lot of things right.
And no, I’m not being patronizing. I don’t know you, so take this at face value.
My issue with you today is the article you’ve posted on a very big training site that Dave Tate won’t allow me to link to.
In this piece, you offer a rather long list of “cons” regarding the use of the Prowler. In fact, were I to read this list of negatives, I would, in fact, be dissuaded from purchasing a Prowler.
Now, I’m not going to get into a training argument here. There are a few inconsistencies in your presentation that I WILL list, but that’s not where I want to take this letter.
First, as a “pro,” you tell us that the Prowler “emulates” many of the motions used in sports. Then, as a “con,” you essentially tell us it doesn’t. Then you tell us it’s a slow movement that will turn us into “grinders,” but in your videos, you’re demonstrating indisputably slow movements and telling us they have the “same feel as the Prowler.”
As for your argument regarding hip extension, I’d encourage you to contact Williams Strength for a referral to some of the football coaches who helped design the Prowler to suggest some alternative uses that will address this issue quite effectively.
This is fine, and I take no issue with you presenting alternatives to the Prowler. They’re actually pretty cool ones. People can learn new things from this article.
What I take exception to is your list of “cons” and the title of your piece, which explains why the things you’re suggesting are “better” than the Prowler. What you’ve done here is targeted, on a massively-read website, a particular piece of equipment, sold by an exclusive distributor, and essentially told people not to buy it. This exclusive distributor, in point of fact, is universally known for doing nothing but helping everyone in the industry reach their goals. The way I see it, by publishing this piece (and don’t get me wrong, EFS and T-Nation have a fantastic relationship), you’ve essentially picked a fight with perhaps the most altruistic company in the fitness industry.
This would be akin to Dave Tate writing an article for T-Nation entitled “5 Trainers in This Author’s Town That Are Better Than This Author.”
You are probably going to think I’m a dick for calling you out, but when I have an obvious objection to something intended for public consumption, it’s difficult to remain silent. Thanks for your time.
Here’s my reply to the Angry Coach’s letter
”The Angry Coach” is absolutely correct that the title used in my article “5 Exercises that Are Better than Prowler” is overly absolute. That’ precisely why it was NOT the title I originally chose for the article to begin with!
When I first wrote the article, I titled it “5 Exercises I Like Better than the Prowler” since the exercise applications within the article are solely based on my own personal experiences and opinions. However, after thinking about it, I thought that title wasn’t enough to draw attention or to encourage people to actually take the time to read the article. So, I changed the title to “5 Exercises that are better then the Prowler”, which definitely grabs your attention. Then, I made “5 Exercises I Like Better than the Prowler” a subtile to clarify things a bit once you actully read through the article. Additionally, during the editing process, the editors often completely change the titles of articles to what they feel is best to get attention and encourage people to read the article. That’s their job and they’re damn good at it!
Now, I’m not an editor, I’m a fitness trainer. All I can do is write the best damn training article I possibly can and then let the editors sort out the rest. The editors obviously agreed with my “attention getting” title suggestion and stuck with it. And, I support them 100% in they’re decision because as soon as you actually read the article, it’s made very clear that no one is bashing the prowler or anyone associated with it. That just ain’t my style, baby! Plus, the subtitle heading for the protocols shown makes things further clear that they are simply my personal choice of “go to” training options.
Remember that T-nation pays good writers, good money to provide good content! If no one actually reads the damn articles because the title doesn’t grab their attention and spark their curiosity, no one benefits from the good content we all worked so hard to provide for them at NO COST! So, getting caught up in the title of the article instead of focusing on the quality of content in the article is, in my mind, hitting the bullseye or the WRONG target!
Here at the gym we have a big sign in the window that says “Look Better Naked.” Much like a good title of an article, it does it’s job and gets us lots of attention. But, everyone knows that just because that sign is in the window, it doesn’t mean that anyone has to actually physically get naked. It’s the training we provide that defines us, NOT that sign in the window! That’s what I mean by hitting the bullseye of the wrong target!
In regards to what was said in the letter about my “cons” list possibly discouraging some one from buying a Prowler. Again, the Angry Coach is absolutely correct! But, I also included a list of PROS that certainly WOULD encourage some one to buy a Prowler! That part of my article was ignored in the letter above. And, I also mentioned several times within that article that I like the prowler and use it for physique competitors and lots of general fitness clients. Interestingly enough, along with my Pros list, ALL of the positive things I said about using the prowler, like how it’s a GOOD tool, which seems to be getting overused, was NOT mentioned in his letter what so ever.
Here’s myself, Coach Shane Davenport and Bikini Competitor (and mom) Alli Oliver talking about her insane conditioning workouts, which incorporate the Prowler!
Furthermore, the concept of my article was to empower readers with an OBJECTIVE look at using the Prowler so they could make an informed decision for themselves as to how they feel it may best be applied in their programs. As I said in the article “use the tool, don’t abuse it.” Plus, I wanted the reader to also see my thought process as to why I’ve adjusted my programs to use the drills included within the article.
Now, providing BOTH the Pros AND Cons is what an objective look is! The fact that my list of pros and all my positive comments about using the prowler were pretty much left out of the above article/letter is a prime example of the blatant lack of objectivity with the fitness training world these days. That’s precisely why I take great pride in providing the best training info I can – And do it ALL from an objective standpoint! I always provide new ideas and innovative exercises that give readers simple and immediately applicable training solutions to common problems they face. Plus, I’m careful to write my articles in such a manner that not only informs the reader, but also inspires them to think for themselves and to not be afraid to use their own creativity to find simple solutions, instead of exclusively relying on buying into some one else’s ideas. Im proud to say that my Prowler article is no exception!
Finally, in regards to what was said in the letter about my article having inconsistencies in it. I’d agree, again, with the Angry Coach! In fact, after reading ALL of my articles once they’re published, I always think that I could have been more clear on a few things. That’s just what happens when you’re a perfectionist and can’t settle for anythitng less than the absolute best you can do!
So, here’s some quick and easy clarification of a fews things, based on the Angry Coaches comments:
– If I’m looking for a slower alternative to the prowler (that’s Prowler-ish), I’ll use the tire drills shown in the article.
– If I’m looking to use a faster, more upright posture for conditioning an athlete, I’ll use sprints, stairs and hills as I described in the article.
– Although the Prowler does put you into driving positions similar to those of pushing your opponent during aspects of MMA, wrestling and/or football lineman. I’ve personally found the Tire drills I showed in the article to match those postures slightly more closely than what I have seen with the Prowler. The closer the postures are to the actual sport action, the closer the force production patterns are, which mean’s the more likely you’ll see the training gains transfer into the sport. At least that’s my thought process and approach to training, which is why I choose those alternatives.
Finally, Al Vermeil said the quote about “too much sled work making athletes grinders”, not me. I appreciate that the Angry Coach tried to give me credit for something said by one of the most legendary and smartest strength coaches of all time. But, I must give credit were credit is due.
I included Al Vermeil’s statements in my article because I felt they added to the overall concept of the article and I found them interesting enough to go back and re evaluate the way I was using prowler training in my programs to begin with. Hence, what inspired me to write the article and share that with everyone else as well!
In conclusion, I greatly appreciate that “The Angry Coach” took the time to not only speak his mind, but to also provide me with his feedback. It’s precisely this type of feedback that helps me consistently re evaluate what I’m doing and grow to become a better trainer, writer and overall communicator. A BIG thanks goes out to the Angry Coach for helping me step up my game!
I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on all this. So, please post your comments below!