WOW: Housework

Complete 5 cycles:

10 Clean-the-Walls (5 clockwise, 5 counterclockwise)
15 Floor Scrubs
14 Trash Bag Tosses (7 each side)
30 Meter Petulant Child Carry


Warmup: 30 second Grok Squat.

Common housework is interesting in that it forces you to interact with the world across multiple movement plane using various objects. You’re bending, squatting, reaching, making circular motions with your arms while balancing precariously on one foot to dust the spot you missed. We’ve all spied that one errant sock on the floor while hauling an armful of laundry to the washing machine, that mocking sock that we can’t help but try to retrieve (with a single finger or maybe our foot) without dumping the rest of the laundry. If that isn’t a comprehensive exploration of the ranges of natural human movement, I don’t know what qualifies.

So with that in mind, I put together a WOW based on common moves you might perform while doing housework. They aren’t exactly what you’d do on an average day of chores, but they’re close enough. To make them tougher, I added weights.


Grab a moderate weighted object, one that you can shoulder-raise in front of you with two hands and elbows fully extended. You should notice the weight, but you should be able to do about ten reps pretty easily. I used a 25-pound weight plate. Hold the weight at your waist and squat down until you hit parallel. While maintaining that strong bottom position and keeping your core and hips tight and stable, make five big clockwise circles with the weight, and then five big counterclockwise circles.

Floor scrubs:

Use a towel to wrap the weight you just used for cleaning the walls. Get on your knees with the swaddled weight on the ground in front of you. Put both hands on the weight and scrub the floor with it, using your abdominals to pull the weight toward you and push it away. This is similar to an ab rollout, and a smooth surface, like linoleum or hardwood, works best.

Trash bag tosses:

Get something reasonably heavy that can take a beating, like a sandbag, a weight plate, a dumbbell, a kettlebell, or a duffel bag of old books. Grab it and give a good heave to the left, trying to toss it as far as you can. Drive the leftward toss with your right leg through the heel and squeeze that right glute, kinda like you were throwing a punch. Alternate sides until you hit fourteen total throws.

Petulant child carry:

Carry an awkwardly shaped, reasonably heavy (shoot for at least 1/2 your bodyweight) object for 25 meters, using any carrying method you like. Just get there and then dump the thing.

A few things to remember:

  • Core stability is absolutely essential, especially when cleaning the wall. Get tight before you drop into the squat, because once you’re at the bottom, you’ll be compromised.
  • Keep your elbows straight throughout the wall cleans and the floor scrubs.
  • If you find your knees sliding during the scrubs, put a towel or a floor mat underneath them.


No variations. Just scale the weights to your strength level as needed.

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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21 thoughts on “WOW: Housework”

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  1. Can I make my husband do this one? Instead of the child though, he can carry two gigantic cats (~18 pounds each). They aren’t obese! They are actually just huge cats (one is a Maine Coone).

  2. This is very interesting! If I do this then my “child carry” will be my 18 lb Boston Terrier. Maybe I’ll have to go over to my soon to be brother in laws and steal his Boston Terrier to make it a total 42ish lbs.

    Not sure if I’ll just “dump the thing” though…

  3. I get to carry my 27# son around all the time. Talk about a petulant child. He might only weigh #27, but it’s like carrying a sack of potatoes that wants to look at EVERYTHING and twist and turn and dig with his toes and…

    He’s a handful. Toad, a Boston Terrier might work well as an analogue. Make sure you get something he wants, though, to make him more wiggly.

      1. Dang it. Me too. I was about to say you misspelled the Mr. Miyagi workout.

  4. Does it count if I really do housework everyday!?! And carry around a 20lb 17 month old, chase a 4 year old and grow a new baby (18 weeks pregnant)!!

    Life as a stay at home mom is constant Work Out of the Week!!! LOL

    1. LOL I was thinking the same thing. Where’s the “Carry sleeping toddler and preschooler that is on the verge of peeing her pants through a bookstore” exercise?

      1. i so agree! when reading the exercises, i was thinking, just DO the housework — you’ll have a clean house when you’re done, too! 🙂

  5. I can really relate to this one. I have a 42 lb 4 year old, and because I was carrying petulant child I am now in physical therapy for a lumbar sacral sprain. My WOW’s are on hiatus until my back gets better. You might want to add digging up the garden and pulling weeds. That can be a pretty good workout too. Heavy housework and yardwork is a workout. So is tent camping. I figure lugging five gallon jugs of water 100 yards is a workout and packing and unpacking and all the walking you do when camping. Don’t tell a stay at home mom she doesn’t work, she is likely to tell you emphatically otherwise.

    1. I was thinking the same thing while I was working on an “addition” to my outdoor storage building (shed). What about a workout based on domicile building or upkeep? Hammering, lifting heavy things, holding things at awkward angles, doing fine motor skill activities while crouching, reaching, chopping, dragging logs/rocks, etc…

  6. I cleaned my house yesterday. I guess I did most of those exercises then. 2 hours later, sparking house and I felt good too.

  7. Can I switch Petulant child for “inner child” He weighs more (ironically same as me) and is prone to some really awesome meltdowns.

  8. Great WoW, but the part about slinging a bag of books makes me cringe regardless of their age or level of dilapidation. True to form, though, since I doubt Grok had much respect for the written word…

  9. Average day at work for me. I’m an electrician. One 35 lb. box of wire in each hand, carry 100-300 yards then heave onto a 4′ stack, do this multiple times. Climb up and down an 8-10’ladder 50+ times a day. Try to put screws 4′ apart from one position into a wall that is too far away to reach comfortably, oh yeah, don’t forget the pipe and ductwork obstacle course. Pull 70+lbs. of wire horizontally overhead for 100′. And at the end of the day put those boxes of wire away, along with the ladders, drills, etc., as quicly as possible! And not to forget that I happen to be a petite woman to boot. I’m pretty sure that most of my days are pretty grok like!

  10. This Workout of the Week (or, as I call it, everyday life) cracks me up. Thank you of making me feel better about the physical activity I already get outside of official “workouts.” 😉

    The 27 lb toddler squat lifts and awkward carries (esp to the car seat when he doesn’t want to buckle) are my (ahem) favorites, but I’ve definitely done the “ab rollout” mopping, as well.