WOW: Couch Workout

During commercial breaks, complete three cycles of:

15 Single Leg Hip Thrust, Each Leg
15 Overhead Presses
15 Bulgarian Split Squats, Each Leg
15 Bodyweight Rows



Warmup: 30 second Grok Squat, lateral, forward, and backward leg swings (10 each leg).

Longtime readers and those who are familiar with my views on fitness will know that most workouts can be completed in fifteen minutes or less. If you push hard enough and involve enough body parts, you can get a great comprehensive workout in just fifteen minutes, which, coincidentally, is roughly the amount of time devoted to advertisements during the average hour long TV show.

“Huh? Television? Why, I’d have you know that I spend all my free time reading blogs, meditating, cooking, or immersing myself in nature. I’m not sure I even have a TV anymore!”

Yeah, right. You may not be staying up late watching crappy infomercials, but you’ve got a television and you know how to use it. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a little quality television. And this week, it’s required to complete the WOW: throughout the course of any hour long program, spend the commercials completing the aforementioned workout while utilizing your couch.

Let’s go over some of the movements, a couple of which may be new to you.

The single leg hip thrust is a classic glute exercise. I’m not normally one to focus solely on a single muscle, but the glutes are such vitally important movers (responsible for hip extension, sprinting, and simply just holding our bipedal selves upright) that get underused and excessively lengthened throughout the course of a normal working day, that I think a hip thrust focusing on them is warranted. The best guy to go to for hip thrust instruction is Bret Contreras, also known as the “Glute Guy.” Here’s an instructional blog post and video from the Guy himself. Basically, the hip thrust is done with your scapula resting against a bench (or couch), your knees bent, your glutes on the ground, and your feet flat on the ground in front of you. Push through the heels and engage your glutes to thrust your hips upward. Don’t overly extend your lower back. It’s in the hips. This is normally done with two feet on the ground and a barbell in your lap, but since we’re using bodyweight, use one leg at a time. To avoid helping your intended glute, let the off leg rest fully extended on the ground.

The Bulgarian split squat is a single leg squat with your rear leg elevated and supported by a bench (or couch) for balance. Place one leg on the couch behind you and the other slightly in front of you. The leg in front will be doing the work; the leg in back will contribute balance. Squat with the front leg, maintaining an upright torso. Push back up through your heel and be sure to squeeze your glute on the way up. Here’s a video example.

Bodyweight rows can be completed using a dining room table, like so.

A couple things to remember:

  • You can always modify the movements to fit your fitness level. Review the overhead press progression and do the movement that you can complete. Feet up on the couch and torso vertical is a good option for this one.
  • No watching HBO or PBS to try weaseling your way out of commercial breaks. No Ken Burns epics that stretch for hours without a single break. I’m talking hour-long specials of your favorite bad sitcom or crime drama, or my favorite, Survivor (Boston Rob: Best ever?).


You can add weight to the movements, as always. Keep a weight in your lap for the hip thrusts, weights in your hands for the split squats, and a weight vest on for the rows and presses.

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.

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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26 thoughts on “WOW: Couch Workout”

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  1. Well, actually no. I don’t have a television or even a couch for that matter. How do you find the time to watch tv anyway? And commercials, they are so terribly boring. The whole tv thing is really beyond me.

    But I’ll work out anyway! 🙂

    1. I wish I could get rid of the TV, and the couch…and maybe the husband who always seems to be glued to both of those things.

      “Husband for Sale!! Comes with TV and Couch”

    2. I also do not own a TV and I plan on never buying one. When I am officially moved out I may not have a couch. There is too much to do outside. I’ll have a few outdoor chairs!

      But, I will still consider doing this workout soon. I am doing last weeks tomorrow.

      You are right though Mark. There is quality TV. Unfortunately the season finale of Lost was about 1 year ago to date. Quality TV is now history.

  2. But I watch everything on the DVR so I don’t have to watch the commercials. OK I’ll do this during the American Idol finale that my wife will insist on watching live.

  3. I just got myself two gym rings today that I can hang off my pull up bar and just tried the body weight row. The extra extension by using the rings makes this a great workout. Has anyone else tried the rings? Would be curious to hear what other workouts you are doing with them.

  4. But I only watch TV after the season has ended and on disc. I haven’t seen a commercial in years (except for the ones that play during the online Daily Show/Colbert Nation).

  5. Really? People still have TVs? Huh.

    You know, ’cause I’m not on my computer all day or anything… 😉

  6. I`m doing P90X and there are plenty of the so called Bulgarian split squats (Tony Horton call them something else though). I`m Bulgarian…never knew that I was squating in a bulgarian way :))
    They are hard and the person who invented them must`ve been insane, in a good way! Thank you whoever you are:)

  7. I’m totally psyched you’ve included Bret Contreras on here. I’ve been following his “glute logic” for a while now. He’s one of my favorite sports science people out there and that says a lot.

  8. Yeah TV’s are kinda outdated, stone age technology Mark! Who needs one when you have a computer?! And I HATE commercials. I don’t like being brainwashed by advertising thank you! But I like the workout. I’m going to do it outside. I think a couple of saw horses might work for the bodyweight rows 🙂

    1. What would you do then, use the saw horses to hold onto while doing bodyweight rows or would you put a straight bar over two saw horses to pull you up?

  9. No. really. i dont. and im sure im not alone in this. but most or all of us know someone who does.

    its time to actually be social.

  10. Opted out of the TV part of this workout… still, this WOW was awesome.

  11. This seems like an awesome workout except for the squats. For me, anything to do with bending and baring weight on my knees is painful and difficult for me to do. Sometimes even standing from a sitting position is hard. Do you have any workouts that will provide similar results without the stress and strain to damaged knees?

  12. I like the idea of doing a workout in front of the TV as it keeps you distracted. Sometimes however, if whatever is on the box is too interesting, you can lose track of what your doing. I find music videos are a good shout – Nothing that catches your interest too much whilst still providing a bit of rhythm to work with.

  13. Okay, so I just did this workout yesterday after playing 4 hours of Lara Croft: It kicked my ass. I’m so sore, that I’ll probably take tommorow off as a rest day as well!

    Thanks Mark for the workout! I needed a break from the regular progressive body strength training workouts I’ve been doing.

  14. Great use of time. I also plan to go Tv-less. I hardly watch anything anyway.

  15. Thanks for this workout Mark! I was actually watching tv while reading this. Needless to say, I got off my butt and did this workout.

    It was awesome 🙂

  16. I barely watch TV anymore, though I used to watch a lot of it. Commercials generally just annoy me and I find most of the shows to be brainless and/or pointless and/or life degrading (a show is called a “program” for a good reason), even a lot of the “educational” ones, which are mostly filler and suspenseful lead-ups to discoveries that turn out to be nothing. (“We think we found Atlantis again! [42 minutes of shots of people staring at sonar screens and similar crap] Oh wait, it’s a natural rock formation. Nevermind.” [Roll credits]) The main exception there is Ancient Aliens. I think that show covers some interesting stuff.. it at least gave me a few historical sites to research and be amazed by.
    I do like to watch the odd movie (though a wavering attention span makes it hard to finish a full one), and generally I choose movies with a lot of action or prevailing element of fitness or primal philosophy that inspire me to work out so I can get some good exercise during them. A few are: The Transporter series, the Crank series (Jason Statham is pretty much primal and sort of a role model for me when it comes to fitnesss), 300, Braveheart, Avatar (Jake Sully’s one line, “My feet are gettin’ tougher. I can run farther every day” was actually huge inspiration to me when getting used to barefooting).
    If I’m not doing sit-ups and such infront of the TV while I’m watching it or pausing it, I’m generally eating a hearty primal dinner or being a hamster on the treadmill.

    1. Hi animanarchy

      I have a must see movie for you then: never back down 1 (I didn’t see the second one yet). Yes it’s not the newest movie out there but it’s a great one to learn about circuit training and about the mentality to never back down!