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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 25, 2011

WOW: NFL Combine

By Mark Sisson


4 40-yard Dashes
2 Max Pushups (or Bench Press), Two Minute Rest
10 Vertical Leaps
10 Broad Jumps
5 Cone Drill Runs
5 Shuttle Runs


Warmup: 30 second Grok Squat, lateral, forward, and backward leg swings (10 each leg). A few light, medium effort (70%) sprints to loosen the joints. Five jumping butt kicks (jump up and kick your own butt with your heels).

Professional football requires its athletes to be powerful, fast, big, and strong. This leads to some brutal collisions, years of which might lead to health problems for participants later in life, but it also leads to some interesting tests for determining said power, speed, size, and strength. You likely aren’t heading to the NFL anytime soon, but you can still enjoy the workouts. This one is based on the NFL Combine, which is the test that all prospective rookies complete before the draft to give teams an idea of their strength, speed, and power. Strength, speed, and power are generally desirable, right?

Some of the exercises should be familiar to you. A dash is just a short sprint. Pushups (or bench presses) don’t need to be explained. The rest? Let’s go over them briefly.

You probably know about vertical leaps, but paying attention to your technique should elicit greater results. Ideally, to mark your progress you’d stand flat-footed and measure your overhead one-handed reach, then jump, reach, and measure the difference. If you can’t measure, just jump as high as you can each time. Swing your arms to generate more power, as seen here.

Broad jumps are also performed flat-footed. Use the arm swing, like in the vertical leap, to generate power.

For the cone drill, set up three cones (or any object) in an L shape about 5 yards apart from each other. Start at the first cone. Sprint to the second, then immediately back to the first. Sprint back to the second and weave around it. Sprint to the third, loop around it, sprint back by the second and finish at the first. If that’s confusing, watch this video of the cone drill done right.

For the shuttle run, start in an athletic stance. Run five yards to the right, touch the ground, pivot, run ten yards in the other direction, touch ground, pivot, then run five yards back to your starting position. Here’s a great video showing how it’s done.

Take your time in between exercises. Don’t rush from vertical leaps to broad jumps to cone drills without stopping; you’ll want to allow time for recovery and, thus, the ability to give your maximum effort.

A few things to remember:

  • Think about explosiveness in the jumps. Really swing those arms and extend those hips to get the most distance/height.
  • The running drills are as much about agility and quickness as they are about raw speed. Heck, even more so. Work on pivoting and changing direction quickly.


If the shuttle run or cone drill are too easy for you, you can always increase the distances between cones. So, instead of running 5, 10, and 5 yards for the shuttle, run 10, 20, and 10 yards, or 10, 10, and 10 for the cone drill.

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 WOWs replace 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.

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10 Comments on "WOW: NFL Combine"


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6 years 3 months ago

Looks like fun. Maybe I’ll do this after I do the CrossFit Open 11.6 WOD.

6 years 3 months ago

I am doing these tonight. it’s perfect weather and not that bad of a workout for a beginner to moderate physical level like me 😀

Primal Toad
6 years 3 months ago

I can’t wait to do this. Is this really exactly what is done at the NFL combine?! Or, is what you listed a shortened version?

6 years 3 months ago

Oh I love this I to it all the time while training for football In my off season.

Mark - LookSharpFitness
6 years 3 months ago

Sounds like a fun workout! I am going to have some fun tonight in this nice weather with this workout. Wish me luck!

6 years 3 months ago

That is what’s done at the combine..except bench press for max reps with 225lbs. And they don’t do more than 3 repetitions of each (best out of 3 – I think).

Jeremy Priestner
6 years 3 months ago

I’m not surprised that something like this is done at the NFL combine, as the exercises you listed test both speed, coordination, and ability to change directions quickly. Obviously, these attributes are enormously important in the sport of football.

Sam- Look Like An Athlete
6 years 2 months ago

I was watching the NFL Combine on ESPN I believe… Man, talk about explosiveness in these guys.

The combination of power, speed and athleticism was beyond belief. The explosive sprints and jumps really get the job done.

Add in some deadlifts and other explosive movements on other days and maybe we can make the draft.


Zach Rusk
3 years 5 months ago

I have a question regarding this workout and the primal fitness pyramid. So it recommends a maximum of 10 minutes of sprints up to 1x/week (in the podcast though he states up to 2x/week for sprints). Is this whole workout supposed to be done in under 20 min.?

Zach rusk
3 years 3 months ago

40: 5.4 s
Bench: 165lb x 9
Cones (double distance): 13.0 s
Shuttle (double distance): 8.49, 8.49, 8.11, 8.83, 8.49 s