WOW: Beat the Bag

Complete 4 2-minute rounds of:

Jabs and Crosses


Warmup: 20 seconds each of practice punches. Go light and fast, making sure to establish proper form.

Although we Primal types tend to be lovers rather than fighters, knowing how to most effectively introduce your fist to another’s face with great insistence is an important skill to have. Even if you never engage in fisticuffs with another human in your lifetime, you can get a fantastic total body workout by beating up on a padded, inanimate opponent. Now, I’m definitely not a fighter, but I can appreciate the power generated and conditioning displayed by those who do it on a regular basis.

First, you’ll need something to hit. You could shadow box if you have to, but hitting an opposing force really helps. You’re more liable to put real weight behind your strikes and thus generate more power and get a better workout if there’s something physical in front of you. Okay – so what are you supposed to hit? A heavy bag is ideal, but I doubt most of you have access to one. Another option is to use sofa cushions, a large duffel bag filled with pillows and padding, or maybe a large sandbag. Unless you do have access to a free-standing or hanging heavy bag, you’re probably going to need a partner for this one. Your partner will hold the padded object while you assault it. If the partner’s game for working out, switch off roles between rounds.

If you go with the heavy bag, be sure to wrap your wrist and use gloves – but if you have easy access to a heavy bag, that probably means you’re already aware of the necessity of wraps and gloves.

Throwing a punch isn’t all about the upper body. The power gets expressed through the hands, but you create the power with the hips. Remember? It’s all in the hips. Here are the most basic punches to learn. Try throwing combinations together in your workout.

Jab: Get in the correct stance. Knees should be bent, feet should be staggered, and your chin should be down. Push off with your rear foot and throw a quick jab with your lead hand. Snap it.

Cross: This is probably what you think of when you think of “punch.” You should be in the same stance as before (in fact, that’s the default stance) and once again, you’ll be pivoting from the rear foot and generating the power with your hips. Then you extend your rear arm and connect with the bag.

You’ve also got hooks and uppercuts, but since most of you are probably fairly inexperienced, easing into it with simple punches is going to be safer and more effective. I do know that throwing a bunch of jabs and heavy crosses at a bag or makeshift bag will give you a good workout, so long as you’re generating the power from the lower body and using your arms as conduits. Though if you know what you’re doing, feel free to mix it up with some other movements too.

A few things to remember:

  • Lead with the hips and follow with the punch.
  • Keep that scapula retracted when landing a punch. Your punches will be stronger and your shoulder will be protected from the impact. If you’ve forgotten what that means, review my post on scapular stability.
  • Take a sufficient break between rounds to give the next round all you’ve got, but no longer than 2 minutes.
  • Try switching your lead foot and throwing some punches with your off hand.


If you’re going to work on a true heavy bag, and you don’t have access to gloves and/or wraps, try throwing elbows instead. The concept is pretty much the same – power comes from the hips – only you have to be sure to set your scapula even more. Don’t overextend yourself by whipping your elbow around along the shoulder joint; instead, make sure you’re turning your entire torso to meet the bag. If you find punching is hurting your wrist or hand, give the elbow strike a shot.

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.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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