How to Make a DIY Prowler Sled

by A Manly Guest Contributor on April 27, 2012 · 29 comments

in Fitness, Health & Sports

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jerred Moon.

Want to expand your repertoire of handyman skills and get in the best shape of your life all at the same time? Then you, my friend, need to make your very own DIY Prowler. Never heard of a Prowler? Let me tell you what sort of workout you’ve been missing out on first, and then I’ll show how you can make your own with some 4x4s, pipe, and brackets.

What Is a Prowler?

A Prowler is basically a sled that you stack weight on and push around for exercise. But the Prowler isn’t just another push or pull workout sled. The different variations and workout combinations you can perform with a Prowler are almost endless, making it an amazing strength and conditioning tool.

Depending on which variations and movements you use, the Prowler is great for conditioning and endurance workouts or for strengthening your core, arms, and lower body. There aren’t too many conditioning tools that exist in this world that have the power to work your whole body like the Prowler. A few quick intervals with this thing and you will feel like you ran 5 miles and completed a load of heavy squats.

The Prowler was made popular by some of the world’s top strength training coaches like Dave Tate and Louie Simmons. These coaches learned that any lifting program, if not coupled with appropriate muscle conditioning, prevents athletes from reaching their full potential. Athletes that want to compete at an elite level will need an elite level of conditioning to get through their training.

With CrossFit exploding in popularity, we have seen a huge shift in the world of fitness. Movements and lifts that were once reserved for Olympians and powerlifters are now being performed by your average CrossFitter. And equipment that was once used only by elite athletes (like the Prowler) are being incorporated into the fitness regimens of more and more average folks.

The problem with some of this cool new fitness equipment is that it can cost you an arm and a leg. For example, buying a heavy duty Prowler will run you anywhere from $250-$800 at most fitness stores. But with an investment of just 50 bucks, you can build your very own this weekend.

Alright, enough chit chat. Let’s start building your Prowler.

Step 1: Go Shopping

Now, before you run out and buy everything on the list, make sure you read through this entire article first. I left some things optional. This could make your project easier or cheaper depending on your specific situation. The items on the equipment list with a star have options.

Materials List:

  • (2) 8’ 4×4’s
  • (1) 10’ metal conduit pipe 1 1/4” in diameter* (or other pipe options that do not involve cutting)
  • (10) 5/16” lag screws 6” (1 extra just in case)
  • (1) box of flat edge screws 1-1.5”
  • (1) 2’ PVC section 4” diameter* (other options available)
  • Masonry Circular Cutoff Blade for cutting metal and PVC* (only if you plan to cut the pipe yourself)
  • Brackets
    • (2) 6” flat brackets
    • (2) Hurricane bracket straps
    • (6) 90 degree brackets
    • (4) 45 degree brackets (adjustable angle)

Step 2: Cutting the 4×4′s

First, we will be cutting the 4x4's for the basic pieces we will use to make the sled. This step includes a majority of the 4x4 cuts; however, there will be more cutting later.

Cut the following:

  • (1) 43″ piece (used for T-shape)
  • (1) 36″ piece (used for T-shape)
  • (3) 7″ pieces (used for the “runners” on the bottom of the sled)
  • (2) 8.5″ pieces (used for support on top of the sled)

Step 3: Boring Holes

We’ll be boring 1-1/2″ holes in the 4×4 for our pipe. To do this job, you’ll need a 1-1/2″ hole boring drill bit.

Bore the following holes:

  • 36″ piece – 2 holes. Each hole should be 7″ from each end.
  • 43″ piece – 1 “half way-hole.” Hole should be 29″ from one end. DO NOT DRILL ALL THE WAY THROUGH!!
  • Two 7″ pieces – Bore a hole halfway through directly in the center. DO NOT DRILL ALL THE WAY THROUGH!!
  • Two 8.5″ pieces – Bore a hole 2” from all the way through.

Step 4: Pipe Cutting

Wow, fire! Don’t be scared of some sparks. However, if you do feel uncomfortable cutting pipe you may want to buy the pre-cut galvanized pipe. Yeah, I cut it in the dark for a cool effect. Don’t try cutting in the dark at home!

A few notes: The pipe I used is a 1-1/4″ conduit pipe that comes in 10′ sections. It’s easy to cut and super cheap. It’s plenty strong for this project too. If you don’t want to cut pipe, you can buy the smaller sections of galvanized pipe, but it will cost more. You can purchase a skill saw blade that cuts conduit pipe for $2-$3.

Cut the following:

  • (2) 43″ pieces
  • (1) 18″ piece

Step 5: Putting It All Together and Bracing

Now we take all of your pieces and put them together, and add brackets and some wooden braces.

First, we will seat the pipes through all the wood. Take two 43" pieces of pipe and thread them through both holes on the 36" and two of your 7" wood pieces. This may take some tapping on the pipe to get it through. If so, use a piece of 4x4 on top of the pipe and then use a hammer on top of the wood. This will keep the pipe from getting damaged.

Next, put your 18” pipe through the “half-way hole” on your 43” piece of 4x4 (See arrow on my completed sled). This is where the weight will be held. Once the project is complete, I recommend putting a tennis ball or racquetball on top of the pipe for safety.

Next, we will secure the T-shape. The top of the T is your 36" 4x4. Place the 43" 4x4 perpendicular to the 36" 4x4 to form the T-shape. Fasten the two beams together with two hurricane brackets and two 6” bolts as shown above. One hurricane strap goes on top and the other will go on the opposite side and on the bottom. This will secure and minimize any torque on the T-Shape. The bolts will be 45-degree angles from one another. Note: Pre-drill a hole then screw in the bolt.

Now we have the basic structure and it is time to add braces. You will need to cut two 24" pieces of 4x4 at an angle that will fit your sled.

After cutting the two brace beams, secure them with bolts. (Note: In the picture you'll notice I have the brackets screwed on. I took this picture after I completed the project. We haven't gotten to bracket installation yet.)

Now secure the third 7" runner piece to the bottom 43" 4x4 towards the end. Screw in a 90 degree bracket on each side of the 7" runner piece Note: pre drill hole.

Here's where and how the three 7" runner pieces are placed on the bottom of my prowler. (Ignore the PVC pipe. We'll be adding that in a bit.)

Flip your Prowler so it's resting on the runner pieces. Slide a 8.5" 4x4 down the pipe (outlined in orange) Add a flat bracket to connect the 8.5" and 36" 4x4s (Arrow #1). Add a 90 degree bracket between the 8.5" and angled 24" 4x4s (Arrow #2). Add a 45 degree adjustable angle bracket to connect the 36" and 24" angled 4x4s (Arrow #3). Repeat on the other end.

Your sled is basically complete. All we need now is a surface for it to glide on.

Step 6: PVC Cutting

I used PVC on my 7″ runner pieces, and it has worked out great. However, I only use my sled on grass. I like the PVC because it’s easily replaceable if it breaks or gets worn. You can really get creative here. You could use a bucket cut in half to secure to the bottom or you could use those hard plastic furniture movers. I am currently using PVC and am enjoying it, but I may try some other material in the future. Just keep that in mind.

Put the 4x4 at the edge of the PVC to measure the width for your cut. Add tick marks where the wood meets the PVC edge. Draw a perfectly straight line down the edge of the PVC. These will be your cut lines.

After you have the center cut out, you will then cut the PVC into three 7.5” pieces.

Take your 3 PVC pieces and slide them on the wood runners. Pre-drill a hole in the PVC and into the wood. Secure the PVC to the wood with flat screws, the longer the better (See arrow)

Now you have a fully functional sled!!!

Now Go Use It!

The guys at Elite FTS have some great Prowler challenges that can be found HERE and they have a full list of Prowler exercises and movements as well.

_____________________

Need help with this project or want to see some different garage gym DIY projects? Check out End of Three Fitness for a full list of garage gym DIY projects and other information. Jerred Moon at End of Three Fitness is helping people like you change their view of fitness; he didn’t start the revolution but he plans to finish it!

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Griff April 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Great article! I do my workouts at home now and have been looking at DIY projects for the garage. This is perfect! I built my plyo-box, pull up system, etc. I’m going to be building a prowler like this now (thanks wholly to this article) and I’d like to take a swing at the power lifting rack I saw in the back ground of one of the photos. I was going to try building that out of metal but it’s up in the air.

I have a question about the runners. I too like the PVC idea (I have some extra PVC laying around from some paralettes I made) and I have some grass to run it through but it isn’t totally flat. I don’t mind the bumpy/hilly challenge but do you have any experiences with uneven ground? Thanks

2 Seth April 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Awesome article. I’ve been thinking about either getting/making a sled lately. I’ve also been thinking about those parachute harnesses that I’ve seen football players (mostly) use. I wonder if there are different benefits between the two (power vs. speed)? I’d love to see something on comparing the two, the best parachute harness, or a good DIY on making one.

3 Jerred April 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Griff,

I have the plans for the wooden power rack on my site if you want to check it out; http://www.endofthreefitness.com/ it is in the “DIY Corner”.

The grass I run my prowler through is actually pretty bumpy. It seems to hold up pretty well though!

4 Vincent April 27, 2012 at 6:48 pm

DIY fitness project? Try re roofing your house.

5 Roger Tucker April 27, 2012 at 9:10 pm

This post has lumber, PVC, grinding wheels, sparks, wrenches, hammers, bolts, metal braces, drills and sawdust. Great Work!!!!

6 Rolando April 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm

How does the PVC hold up on asfault, does anyone have an idea?

7 S Mason April 28, 2012 at 5:37 am

Making this project without power tools would be a fair workout too:-)

8 Jerred April 28, 2012 at 7:55 am

Rolando,

I haven’t used it on asphalt but considering how thin the PVC is it may wear pretty fast. You could try using thick plastic, like for a kitchen cutting board, and it will last longer. You may have to replace every once in awhile.

9 Martin April 28, 2012 at 8:45 am

There has got to be an easier way.

10 Tim April 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Griff, and any other DIY guys, checkout http://diywod.com to get customized workouts emailed to you every day.

11 Tim April 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Griff, and any other DIY guys, checkout http://www.diywod.com to get customized workouts emailed to you every day.

12 Tim April 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Griff, and any other DIY guys, checkout diywod.com to get customized workouts emailed to you every day.

13 Benny April 28, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Good idea for inexpensive piece of equipment. There is a cheaper way, though, and involves a tire. Basically using a large tire and towing straps. Pull it while going back or forth. Or pull it toward you. Many possibilities.

14 KippingItReal April 28, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I’m already a fan of Jerred’s posts, and this DIY Prowler really hits home for me. The care taken in the construction reminds me so much of the projects my dad would always have around the house when I was younger. Anything from trellises to my treehouse, he built it.

Who knows? It’d be SWEET if they start using Jerred’s DIY Prowler in future CrossFit Games haha.

15 DIY Strength April 29, 2012 at 11:44 am

Brilliant prowler tutorial, the best I’ve seen. Love the PVC pipe idea, which could easily be replaced with metal pipe for use on hard surfaces.

16 DAN April 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I made my own Wheel of pain.

17 Conor April 30, 2012 at 3:47 pm

What about a custom lawn roller. You can make your grass look good and get the same workout.

18 Conner May 7, 2012 at 12:57 am

I’m going to make this but I want to modify it with hooks so I can drag it as well. Also I need to figure a way to have it work on snow since I’m currently living in a location where it snows 9 out of 12 months.

19 JT May 9, 2012 at 2:09 am

So thats what there called. My rugby team has a big metal one one with four bags to hit. Call it the scrum sled

20 LukeS May 13, 2012 at 6:54 pm

@Benny:

I’ve seen some people use a regular tire, but with a round wooden middle (like a rim) to carry weight. It would be easy to have a few sandbags of varying weights to load/deload easily for a differing set of exercises.

21 Walt May 16, 2012 at 12:37 am

@JT: Your rugby team has a scrum sled, not a prowler. A scrum sled can run 10-20k and is made to replicate the body motions that you go through as a front/second row forward in the scrum. Very different.

22 Brooks May 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I made a smaller one of these, but I hooked it to the back of my push lawn mower. I have some hills in my backyard. That’ll give you a workout!!

23 Brandon June 6, 2013 at 9:44 am

Finally! A straightforward DIY prowler project. Just what I’ve been looking for!

One question: will the prowler ruin your grass? My wife would whoop my ass.

Thanks!

Brandon
Bitter Sweet Fitness

24 Chris July 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Awesome article! Just built one one myself, using iron bar though instead of conduit. I have the same question as Brandon. What has it been like for the grass? I’d hate to ruin my lawn or the grass on a neighborhood park or something. I have trails behind my house, but they are rocky and the sled does not work well at all.

I like grass because it is soft, flat, and nice to be on.

25 Brandon July 3, 2013 at 6:49 am

Chris and all,

I got all the way to step 5 and I am stuck!

The 1 1/4″ pipe will NOT go through the woodpieces. I used a 1 1/2″ spade to bore a hole and the pipe has no chance of fitting in there. However, I measured the 1 1/4″ conduit pipe and even though it says 1 1/4″ on the pipe it’s actually a little bitter than 1 1/2″ in diameter.

Do you think I should bore a 1 3/4″ hole to make it fit? I just don’t want it to be too loose. What are my options?

Thanks everyone!

Brandon
Bitter Sweet Fitness

26 Jesse October 22, 2013 at 11:36 pm

This looks awesome! my only concern is i don’t have grass nearby where i can push/pull this so i’d have to drive to a local park to use it… and ideas for making it to work on pavement?

27 RfelixR February 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Looks like a great DIY project. Any idea how much weight it can take? I’d worry that the torque from the handles could break the wood blocks they sit in if the weight gets heavy. Has anything like that ever happened?

28 Everett April 2, 2014 at 4:17 pm

I like the PVC idea, but not the use of wood for a sled. Threaded steel pipe from a home improvement store is inexpensive and connects without tools, drilling, or welding. I made a yoke that doubles as a sled out of 1-1/4″ steel pipe in just a couple of hours for about $120.

29 John April 4, 2014 at 9:39 am

I made a similar sled. Couple ideas. If you want to us this on pavement, I’d suggest looking at commercial cutting boards instead of the PVC pipe. Also since I didn’t have a bunch of plates at home, I installed a platform made of plywood on the sled instead of the pipe for the plates. You can buy 75 pound tubes of sand (used to throw in the back of pick-up trucks for traction) for $3 each at Lowes, Home Depot, etc. Pretty cheap way to add some serious weight.

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