WOW: Explosion Complex

5 cycles of:

10 Russian Lunges (5 each leg)
8 Explosive Clapping Pushups
5 Explosive Pullups
5 Weight Tosses


Warmup: 30 second Grok Squat, 10 straight leg swings (each leg, each direction: forward/back/lateral).

In today’s elite athletes, explosive power makes the difference. Running sprints, either as the main event or in a basketball or football game, requires power. A successful shot put is a hip-centric power move. A devastating uppercut only devastates if there’s significant power behind it. But these men and women fusing strength and speed together aren’t doing anything new; the capacity for explosiveness is millions of years old. It’s encoded in all of our DNA. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to focus on both strength and speed.

Today’s WOW is all about explosiveness. You’ll be moving weight (be it bodyweight, or supplementary weight held in your hands or strapped to your back) as quickly and cleanly as possible. Think throwing a spear to make the kill. Think heaving the carcass up to your shoulder. You don’t do that slowly and laboriously, do you?

When you do the Russian lunges (VIDEO), it’s important to keep your torso vertical. Don’t lean forward when you land; this will put too much shearing stress on your knees. Keep the weight on your heels and explode through them. Your quads will get a great workout as is, but consciously thinking about pushing through the heels will also engage your glutes and hamstrings (the all-important posterior chain which figures prominently in explosive moves). This is a good thing.

When you toss the rock, I recommend holding the weight between your legs like a kettlebell (heck, you could even use a kettlebell) and using a powerful hip extension to launch it. Keep the weight on your heels, keep a tight torso, keep a slight bend in the knees, and keep your arms straight – you aren’t throwing with the arms or the shoulders. It’s all in the hips. You could throw it forward or backward over your head, but the source of the power remains the same.

For the explosive pullups, throw yourself up off the bar at the top of each rep. If you can’t do an explosive pullup, perform jumping pullups and use the upward momentum to carry you over the bar. Since jumping pullups force you to break up the set into singles, do eight reps instead of five to make up for the added rest.

If you can’t do clapping pushups, switch to the knees. The important thing is that you generate power.

If you decide to add weight, be careful. You want to struggle and push yourself, but you do not want your form to suffer. And when you’re doing explosive movements like these, the room for error is reduced. Pick a weight that makes you strain and grunt and dig deep. It could be bodyweight for some, could be a railroad tie for others. The point is making the effort using whatever means you have at your disposal, geared toward your individual capacity.


Break up the cycle and keep the exercises separate. This will make the workout longer, but you’ll be able to focus on the individual movements and potentially generate even more power. If you go this route, you’ll probably be in a better place to add weight to the movements. If you want to try this but you’re unfamiliar with the exercises, I’d recommend doing a couple cycles at bodyweight to get a feel for them first.

If you can’t do an explosive pullups, pushups or lunges substitute movements from Levels 1-3 of Primal Blueprint Fitness Lift Heavy Things (chapter 3).

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.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!