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

WOW: The Bro Workout

Complete 5 cycles of:

10 Dips
7 Pullups
10 Handstand Pushups
10 Inverted Rows

As with nearly all WOWs, this workout is scalable. Read on for beginner substitutes and variations.


Warmup: 2 Grok Hangs, 10 fist pumps.

As often as we like to poke fun of those lopsided, top-heavy dudes strutting around the gym and preening in front of mirrors with NO Xplode-stained mouths, you gotta admit: they have great arms. Today’s Workout of the Week is heavily influenced by their preferred mode of exercise. It’s The Bro Workout, an upper body-centric complex. See, full body workouts are important, but the lower body stuff that the general population tends to ignore, like squats and deadlifts, enjoy an exalted position in the evolutionary fitness community – almost to the point of neglecting the upper body. This WOW address this phenomenon. Biceps and triceps and lats are crucial parts of the body that contribute to the overall function of the whole and should never be neglected. And if they happen to develop striations or grow conspicuous underneath t-shirts, all the better.

Bicep curls, lateral raises, and tricep pulldowns are unnecessary, however; pullups, inverted rows, dips, and handstand pushups are sufficient for building both strength and big arms. Pullups and inverted rows will make you a stronger (not necessarily more skillful) climber, better at drawing things in toward your body, and allow you to give good hugs. They will also work the heck out of your biceps, even more so if you opt for palms-in chinups. Dips may not isolate your triceps, but they’ll force you to use your arms as the comprehensive tools that they are – and they’ll get bigger and more defined for it. Handstand pushups are just a badass way to train balance and the ability to push heavy things over your head; they’ll also help develop big strong delts and traps.

The Bro Workout will satisfy both your desire for a ripped, attractive upper body and to function effectively and powerfully in the world around you. We all want the looks that go along with the physical prowess. There’s no point in hiding that simple fact. In fact, it’s all part of the fitness package. How else does an animal like you display your prowess without having to constantly engage in something physical? Through appearance.

A few things to remember:

  • On pullups, drive your elbows toward your ribs for more lat and back engagement; squeeze your biceps and turn your palms inward if you’re going full-on bro to focus on your biceps.
  • You can do inverted rows on whatever you’re using to do the dips. Elevate your feet for a tougher go.
  • If you haven’t tried ballistic dips, where you throw your body up in the air at the top of each rep, try them now.


You can substitute free weighted movements for some of these if you prefer: overhead presses for handstand pushups, bent over rows for inverted rows. And you can, as always, add a weight vest to the pullups, dips, and handstand pushups to increase the difficulty. If you feel guilty about neglecting your legs (for even a single workout), toss in some squats or sprints afterward.

If you can’t complete a pullup or a handstand pushup, for example, use the PBF Essential Movements Progression and Self-Assessment to determine which movements you can complete. Even if you’re doing chair pullups and jack knife presses, that’s totally fine! Do what you can.

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.

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. this one looks fun…

    Greg wrote on January 3rd, 2011
  2. I look the new warm up – 10 fist pumps! Mark, can you post a video showing the proper fist pump form?

    Primal_Joe wrote on January 3rd, 2011
  3. When you do the explosive push-yourself-up-after-the-dip, how do you make sure you don’t land on what you used to do the dip? Do you land on your feet?

    Why is it called the Bro workout?

    AlyieCat wrote on January 3rd, 2011
    • No, you don’t land on your feet. You re-catch yourself with your hands on the bars you’re using. Think of a clapping pushup: you push off the ground with your hands, then you catch yourself with your hands while going into the next repetition.

      Or consider it an upper-body jump squat, with your arms as the “legs” in the movement.

      It’s called the “Bro Workout” due to this: … and you could also take a gander at the guys from Jersey Shore.

      VelocityRD wrote on January 4th, 2011
  4. another OT question. Can someone direct me to the post about rotator cuff strengthening?

    AlyieCat wrote on January 3rd, 2011
  5. What are dips and inverted rows?


    p.s. new to the site.

    Shane wrote on January 3rd, 2011
  6. It is a good workout. However I like to do my pushes and pulls on separate days.

    Jaques wrote on January 4th, 2011
  7. quick question… on the reminders Mark says “Workouts of the Week are an optional component of Primal Blueprint Fitness and should only be completed by those that have mastered Level 4 of each Lift Heavy Things Essential Movement”… where exactly can I read about levels 1, 2, 3 and 4?
    I base all my routines around the basic ideas of primal blueprint in the book but I’ve recently joined MDA so I’m a bit lost here.


    Angie wrote on January 4th, 2011
    • In the upper right hand corner of this page (and every other page I would think) is a link to “Primal Blueprint Fitness” a free 92 page ebook. All the info you need is in there.

      Edward wrote on January 7th, 2011
  8. What a great workout, it was a challenge to do a solo handstand for the first time, but it does become less awkward the longer you do it.
    thanks Mark for another good one.

    Robert wrote on January 5th, 2011
  9. Great Workout! Simple but tough.

    bsmart wrote on January 5th, 2011
  10. What a great WOW! I think I’ll add this one to my favorites list along with the Auroch Stalk, Automobilty and Fight and Flight.

    Thanks again Mark!

    primal_joe wrote on January 5th, 2011
  11. Did this one yesterday. Great WoW, going to keep it in the routine every-other week for awhile. : )

    Edward wrote on January 7th, 2011
  12. Bro workout – basically all I used to do for exercise, plus some running and biking, and I had a strong, mean-looking upperbody (at one point my forearms were bigger than my upper arms due to endless wrist curls)and decent leg fitness. Also a very unsightly hunch and I couldn’t even do a proper sit up!
    Knowledge = balanced power.

    Animanarchy wrote on August 14th, 2011

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