Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
30 Aug

WOW: Easy As 1, 2, 3

Max cycles in 20 minutes of:

1 Pullup/Chinup
2 Pushups
3 Full Squats

Warmup: A couple rotations of the Grok Squat and Grok Hang.

How-to: Execute 1 pullup. Drop down and perfom 2 pushups. Get up and do 3 full squats (bringing your hips to below your knees). That’s one cycle. Repeat, but this time do a chinup instead of a pullup.

Variations: If you can’t do a proper pullup/chinup, pushup or full squat substitute movements from Levels 1-3 of Primal Blueprint Fitness Lift Heavy Things (chapter 3).

Hat Tip: This workout is a favorite of mine. It’s a minor variation on a workout that is part of the SimpleFit protocol.

What are WOWs?

  • Workouts of the Week (WOWs) are an optional component of Primal Blueprint Fitness that add a fractal and often fun and playful quality to the basic PBF protocol.
  • In most cases WOWs should only be completed by those that have mastered Level 4 of each Lift Heavy Things Essential Movement. Also, it’s recommended that WOWsreplace one or both Lift Heavy Things workouts or the Sprint workout (depending on the WOW) each week instead of being done in addition to the Lift Heavy Things and Sprint workouts.
  • Learn more about WOWs and Primal Blueprint Fitness by getting the free eBook. And access all Workouts of the Week in the WOW Archive.

Reader-Submitted WOW Video

A big thanks to Mark’s Daily Apple reader and PBFer Todd from for submitting this WOW video. Grok on!

P.S. I’d like to see Primal Toad going a little deeper in his squats, and making sure he starts his pullups/chinups from a dead hang.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. 67.

    And can I just say, OUCH. Last 3 minutes was tough… I had slowed in the middle a bit to pace myself, but think I could have eeked out a couple more.

    Taking the time to make a tick mark after each set probably cost me at least 1! :-)

    thanks for the workout…

    Sean wrote on August 31st, 2010
    • p.s. can I add that I think my upper body is still recovering from paddling 340 miles on the MR 340 last week? :-)

      Sean wrote on August 31st, 2010
      • You can, but we’ll still call you WEAK.

        Seriously, 63? Come’on dude.

        bemental wrote on August 31st, 2010
        • @sean: see what happens when you get all sarcastic and make fun of people? You screw up your numbers on postings you can’t edit!

          Good job Sean, keep it up.

          bemental wrote on August 31st, 2010
        • It was 67! And I’m going for 74 next week to break the current record as recorded here in the comments!

          (BTW, we did set a world record in the MR 340, so I have that going for me! :-) )

          Race report at

          Sean wrote on August 31st, 2010
  2. Toad’s squats are awful! Full Range of Motion is crucial, everyone. Your hip crease has to get below your knee crease on the squat. Just like your chest should touch the deck on pushups and your chin should get above the bar on pull-ups. You’re only short-changing yourself by doing it half-way.

    kctex wrote on August 31st, 2010
    • Yes I agree with you 100% as I have said a few times already and mark pointed it out as well.

      I was “rushing” the squats as I was just trying to do as many cycles as I could. I am going to do this again on Friday more properly.

      When I do the 5 movements and don’t worry about time I do full squats no problem. I was just worrying about getting in as many cycles as possible. And, it was hard counting that many so I wasnt thinking about going down all the way…

      But they werent AWFUL… believe me man – do you want to see AWFUL squats?

      Check out the video I made a couple of months ago – 2 people made a response to the video mocking me – it was actually quite hysterical.

      Primal Toad wrote on August 31st, 2010
      • okay, sub-par. I retract my awful comment. And lord knows by about minute 15, my push-ups were sub-par, too.

        kctex wrote on September 1st, 2010
      • Well thanks for having the courage to post your video for everyone to critique. :)

        I just completed this workout and did 51 rounds in 20 minutes. Pull ups from a dead hang are a lot tougher. I need to work on my squats. Hard for me to go past parallel. The good news is I’m still sweating 15 minutes later.

        Dave wrote on September 1st, 2010
  3. 52 cycles!!!! My goal was 40. And -yes…I modified it a little. I used my kids’ swing set and picnic table. I had to use the table (pushed a few feet away) to help with the pull-ups and chin-ups, I did push ups on my knees, and I held on the the leg of the swing set mostly for support on the squats… BUT I DID IT! Sure beats doing nothing with the excuse that I have 2 little kids in the house and can’t get out!

    kelle wrote on August 31st, 2010
    • Heh, my kids were in my basement workout room, and they were trying to run on the treadmill. Half my attention was on them, hoping they weren’t going to get hurt! :-)

      Sean wrote on August 31st, 2010
      • Typical children. Being all adventurous, creative and potentially destructive to themselves and their environment.

        If you think your kids are bad, imagine what Grok had to protect his from!

        bemental wrote on August 31st, 2010
  4. 55 cycles this morning for 1st WOD – subbed burpees for push-ups, barefoot.

    Fun quick hitter – while little like Cindy, short bursts are fun.

    Analisa wrote on August 31st, 2010
  5. It was hard, but I liked this workout. I felt I could really push it without worry of injury … I lost count of how many rounds I did.

    John F wrote on September 1st, 2010
  6. 71 rounds in 19:58

    futureman wrote on September 1st, 2010
    • why’d you quit early?

      kctex wrote on September 1st, 2010
  7. I did about 71 cycles give or take a few. I’m sure I miss counted a little.

    At first I thought that this was going to be too easy and was going to do more reps. Glad I didn’t. It wasn’t a killer but I did feel it when I was done.

    After I got a little warmed up I started throwing in the claps to the pushups and a jump with the squats.

    The important thing to remember here is that you need to mix up you workout routines. The WOW’s are a great way to build a library routines to fall back on when your wondering what kind of workout you want to do.

    Keep ’em coming.

    By the way, just turned 50 this year and going Primal.

    SteveiB wrote on September 1st, 2010
  8. 82.

    J.J. Valdivia wrote on September 1st, 2010
    • Seriously?

      Primal Toad wrote on September 1st, 2010
    • That’s nice. Gives us something to work toward.

      StevieB wrote on September 1st, 2010
  9. Did it this afternoon; wide-grip pullups, explosive pushups and one-legged squats. fun, quick workout! Thanks for the suggestion, Mark.

    ThePrimalBrett wrote on September 1st, 2010
  10. 86 rounds.

    For the haters… try it before you hate it… seriously. I’ve done Cindy as well… and am generally able to do 20-22 rounds. I’m not saying Cindy is easier or anything… but this is a different animal.

    The point of these timed workouts is to PUSH as hard as YOU can. If you did 50 rounds today… do it again in a month and aim for 60 rounds. You get the idea.

    Raj wrote on September 1st, 2010
  11. 55

    I think I paced myself poorly as I wasn’t totally whacked at the end of it if I’m honest although I was afraid that I would go too hard and then not be able to finish.

    Just installed my brand new wall mounted chin up bar today on the balcony so I hope to kill it next time – who’s gonna crack 100 first I wonder – that’ll be 12 seconds per round if my math serves me correct… ouch!

    AdamOfBondi wrote on September 2nd, 2010
  12. The more recent comments make my 61 rounds look pedestrian. My 16 year old son did 37. We did it outside in Arizona at 4:30p (it was 106 at the time), and we had to jump up to an 8 foot soccer goalpost as our bar. I made sure I started from a dead hang so as to not use the momentum of my jump for the pullup. Oh, and I did pullups the whole time, no chinups. There, now I feel better.

    Darin Woolwine wrote on September 2nd, 2010
  13. I did it today, been looking forward to having a go all week!

    I used the assisted pull up machine as I can’t (YET) do unassisted pull ups (being the former skinny fat vegetarian Iron triathlete that I am!). Assistance was 12 kgs (I weigh 56 kg).

    I managed 34 reps, really chuffed with that given my puniness! And all good form I hope – this was a fairly measured pace as I really didn’t think I’d make 20 or perhaps get beyond 10 minutes!

    By 20 minutes the sweat was dripping off, a very good workout and how great so many of us have been able to participate at our own levels.

    It did draw a lot of attention in the gym though … more than I usually do with my Vibrams, multi-coloured hair and increasing tattoo collection! I think I’m becoming a bit of a celebrity but the Primal word is spreading here as a result.

    Grok on, here’s to next week’s WOW, hope it is another non-running one :-)

    Kelda wrote on September 3rd, 2010
    • BTW I’M 43 yo female and when I say

      “being the former skinny fat vegetarian Iron triathlete that I am”

      I mean ‘former’ in every respect LOL! Retired Iron triathlete, now a lean meat eater and loving every minute!

      Kelda wrote on September 4th, 2010
  14. Just did 65 rounds. I set an timer to count down a 20 second cycle and repeat that. It definitely helped me pace my workout, but I still pushed a little. Probably could have gone a little harder but my arm are pretty tired about now. The pullups and squats were easy for me but towards the end I had some trouble with the pushups. I did, though, do variations on the pullups and pushups (wide grip, diamond pushup, etc.)

    Matt wrote on September 3rd, 2010
  15. 58 rounds, strict form throughout, forgot to alternate pullups and chinups so all were pullups.

    I figure if the top CrossFit Cindy performers that do 30+ rounds did an equal amount of work in this WOW, that would be about 150 rounds.


    Paul C wrote on September 3rd, 2010
  16. To the best of my counting abilities, I managed 40 rounds. I used the assisted pullup machine, with 22lbs of assistance added. Pushups were regular until round 37, when I switched to modified (from knees.) Full squats to past parallel. Great but tiring!

    Maureen wrote on September 4th, 2010
  17. 58 cycles

    GaryMc wrote on September 7th, 2010
  18. 56 …

    LooksYoungerThanHeIs wrote on September 7th, 2010
  19. 85 today with emphasis on FORM + speed!

    EXPLODING up from the third squat to the bar is FUN.

    tip: find a bar that is a bit higher than you can reach.

    Great improvement from my first attempt a few weeks ago (71)

    Who can break 100????!

    This ends up being an endurance contest more than anything…personally, my muscles weren’t fatigued so much as I couldn’t catch my breath and felt like I was going to black out after getting up from the pushups….:D

    goneprimal wrote on September 13th, 2010
  20. A couple weeks back I did 67, today I knocked out 85.

    A couple of changes: last time I lost time due to making tick marks after each set, so today I made marks mostly after 5, but when I was hurting, after 2 so I wouldn’t lose track. I also started in a more controlled pace, did all the work under the pull up bar instead of moving out, etc. So all in all more efficient, but also I think I improved.

    I’ll probably try this again in a week or two. Great workout when all you have is 20 minutes. I wonder if I can hit 100! Just 5 per minute. :-)

    Sean wrote on September 15th, 2010
    • I did 67 in August and 85 in September, and had forgotten about this workout until someone made a comment recently and I got an email update. Decided to try it again just now and hit 92. I know 100 is possible — I was at 49 at 10:00 but slowed in the 2nd half. A little practice and it could be done! :-)

      p.s. was going to try 100 burpees for time after this but couldn’t pull it off. The 1-2-3’s took too much out of me!

      Sean wrote on March 25th, 2011
  21. Tried it for the first time today…63. I didn’t find it boring, it actually went by really quickly. I will hit 80!!!

    Michael Gibson wrote on September 19th, 2010
    • nice one! keep posting results here!

      goneprimal wrote on September 19th, 2010
  22. I’m finally at a point in my PBF that I wanted to venture into the WoWs. Found this one in the Archives.
    Great workout Mark.
    52 cycles. Whooped my tail.

    Nathan wrote on March 23rd, 2011
  23. Based on my experience with the last 2 WOWs (which were exhausting) I took my time with this one

    Craig wrote on June 26th, 2014
  24. I also paced myself with this one, was good fun and the time wasn’t a problem at all. I didn’t get bored, and it actually flew by! check it out

    Craig wrote on July 31st, 2014

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