The PrimalCon Primal Blueprint Fitness Challenge

The exciting grand finale of the fitness agenda at PrimalCon was the PBF Challenge at Oxnard Beach Park. Here participants conducted a timed high-intensity performance test consisting of a challenging, non-stop sequence of basic PBF body resistance exercises that work various large muscle groups to the brink of exhaustion. A protocol was given for Novice, Intermediate and Advanced levels, allowing participants to choose a challenge most appropriate for them. While the emphasis at PrimalCon was on welcoming all to a completely non-intimidating atmosphere (participants broke into sub-groups by self-reported fitness level for the Sprinting, Strength Training, and Play sessions), we did stage a friendly competition for each sex and fitness category at this particular event, and dispensed some cool Grok-logoed awards to the various winners at the closing brunch.

All you need for the PBF Challenge is a 20-40 meter strip of grass (or other soft ground) and a bench. Be sure that you are well-informed about proper technique for each of the popular exercises mentioned. If necessary, seek the support of a trained fitness professional to ensure your safety and monitor your technique. Before your begin, conduct a cardiovascular warm up of at least five minutes and also perform a few reps of several of the movements described at two-thirds of maximum effort.

Choose a convenient and reliable venue to allow for repeat tests on the exact same course. Use a tape measure or pace off an estimate of the recommended distance, but be sure (using landmarks, etc.) that your course is identical for successive tests. On that note, feel free to modify the suggested routine if you have any issues with injuries, venue limitations, or just have a more preferable or familiar sequence in mind. For example, if a pull up bar is nearby, you may choose to integrate that into your sequence. The essence of this test is to regularly measure your progress with a full body, maximum intensity, peak performance effort. Repeat the test every month or so to accurately track your fitness progress.

The reps for each of the following ten exercises are listed in order for Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. Pick one of these levels and stick with the according numbers at each exercise. If you struggle or need rest breaks in order to complete the suggested number of repetitions (like a certain PrimalCon staff member who helped design the challenge and got stuck on his second set of push ups for what seemed like an eternity), it’s best to scale down your effort to a lower category. This test is meant to be a series of continuous and explosive efforts. Try to use proper form instead of rushing through certain sequences to improve your time. Remember, you are competing against yourself and want to conduct an identical test each time. Note to PrimalCon attendees: Thanks to your excellent beta testing feedback, we have slightly modified the sequence you did at PrimalCon to challenge muscle groups in as balanced a manner as possible. The revisions are described at the end of the post.

Bring a stopwatch and a small index card to remind you of the order and number of reps for each exercise. Start your watch and commence the following sequence with no break in between exercises:

  1. Push Ups: 10, 20, or 30. Be sure your body is in a straight line plank position at all times. Lower your chest all the way to the ground for each rep.
  2. Bunny Hops: 20, 30, or 40 meters. Take off and land with both feet together. Strive for both height and length. Make sure you land in balance on the balls of your feet to prevent jarring your back. Swing your arms upon takeoff to create momentum.
  3. Lunge Walks (return to starting position, i.e. – 20, 30, or 40 meters): When you reach your landmark with the Bunny Hops, return to start/finish with Lunge Walks. Take slow, exaggerated steps where your rear knee lowers almost to the ground on each step. Your front knee must bend to form at least a 90-degree angle between upper and lower leg. Pump your arms on each step in an exaggerated manner to help maintain balance.
  4. Spidermans: 10, 20, or 30. Assume plank push up position. Keeping your arms locked, drive right knee forward to touch right elbow, then return leg quickly to plank position. Repeat with left knee to left elbow. Allow head to rock forward slightly to compress abdominals on each rep. Count a complete right/left leg cycle as one. Advanced users can dip down (effectively doing a push up) while driving leg forward.
  5. Bench Dips: 20, 40, or 60. Standing in front of bench, reach behind with straight arms and grasp front edge of bench. Dip down, bending elbows to 90 degrees, dropping your butt into a sitting position in front of, and below, the bench. Then, return to extended arms position. Relax your feet flat on the ground and let them go along for the ride, making sure that your arms apply all the force.
  6. Sprint & Grok Crawl (2): Take two round-trips out to and back from your landmark at 20, 30, or 40 meters – for a total of four lengths. Sprint one direction, then Grok crawl (aka Bear crawl) to return. Keeping your back straight with butt only slightly raised, proceed with only your hands and toes touching the ground. When you reach the start/finish line, sprint out again to your landmark and crawl back to the start/finish line.
  7. Push Ups: 10, 20, or 30. This set should feel just as easy as your first set….Just kidding!
  8. Bench squats: 20, 40, or 60. Standing in front of bench, sit down until butt barely touches the bench, then immediately stand up. Repeat movement and accumulate your total as fast as possible. Pump arms on each rep for momentum.
  9. Spidermans: 10, 20 or 30.
  10. Full Sprint: to landmark (20, 30 or 40 meters) and back to starting line.

Stop the watch and note your time after your sequence is complete. Log your results over time to notice patterns of regression or improvement that can be addressed with future PBF workouts and a healthy, sensible Primal exercise program.

PrimalCon attendees: We added #4 and #9 Spidermans to provide more emphasis on core. We removed Scissors from the second to last spot. The recommended Advanced challenge course of 40 meters is longer than the 30 meters presented at Oxnard, in order to provide further challenge to lower body.

Give the PrimalCon Primal Blueprint Fitness Challenge a try and post your times in the comment board!

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