WOW Progress Check: Easy As 1, 2, 3

Max cycles in 20 minutes of:

Full Squats


Warmup: A couple rotations of the Grok Squat and Grok Hang.

Progress Check: You did this one back in August of last year. Today, you’re going to do it again to see how your current level of training compares to the last time. Try to beat your old score!

How-to: Execute 1 pullup. Drop down and perfom 2 pushups. Get up and do 3 full squats (bringing your hips to below your knees). That’s one cycle. Repeat, but this time do a chinup instead of a pullup.

Variations: If you can’t do a proper pullup/chinuppushup or full squat substitute movements from Levels 1-3 of Primal Blueprint Fitness Lift Heavy Things (chapter 3).

Hat Tip: This workout is a favorite of mine. It’s a minor variation on a workout that is part of the SimpleFit protocol.

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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29 thoughts on “WOW Progress Check: Easy As 1, 2, 3”

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  1. Ahh. The switch between doing chins and pulls is the variation from the SF L1D1. Got it. Nice… yeah, it’s solid metcon style training.

  2. Dang! I need to read these things more closely. Missed the alternating between pull up and chin up bit.

    I did this after doing my 20 Pull Ups Challenge workout. I focused on good form (pull up from a hanging position, military style, nose to the floor push ups, and hips below the knees squats) and was able to complete 45 rounds in 20 minutes. I wanted to get to 48 (my age) but was too gassed at the end. Next time 50!

  3. You must have read my mind – I just did this workout again a couple of weeks ago to check my progress!

    Back when you first posted it last Fall, completed 42 rounds and two weeks ago completed 54 rounds!

  4. I’m doing the pulls on separate days than the pushes. It just makes sense. Really there is only 2 movements the body can make, either pulling or pushing. If you can’t do the pull up very well for the next set, take more rest in between and eventually shorten once it is achieved.

    1. Really, you do not make sense. Do you have days in your life that you do not allow yourself to push anything (or pull) at work or daily activities. Grok would have to push, pull and squat every day if he wanted to survive. Your body and the workout is designed that way, don’t change it. If you can’t do the pull-up then the workout is over until next time. A long rest defeats the effect of the workout.

    2. Yeah, this doesn’t make sense–there are far more movements than simply pushing and pulling (swinging, thrusting, moving a weight through space very slowly, holding something isometrically, carrying, dragging, balancing, manipulating, catapulting, etc) that are either combinations of pushing and pulling done in quick sequence/alternation or are their very own movement, entirely seperate from pushing or pulling. Like Don said, seperating the two defeats the purpose of this and all functional workouts. Thinking of workouts in terms of “push” and “pull” to be performed on seperate days is becoming an antiquated line of thought in exercise and is not how human beings operate in their everyday lives.

  5. Hey I think I have some ESP connection with this WOW

    Today in the morning I did 50 rounds, in less than 25 mins, but I don’t think I did chin-ups, just pull ups.
    When you think about it you have done 50 pull-ups, 100 pushups and 150 squats!
    Not bad for a 59 years old Grok!

    1. OK, better now: last Monday it was the 50 sets under 25 mins, today Friday did it in 19 minutes – wooo hoooooo!

    1. palms face you: chin up
      palms away from you: pull up

      chin ups are mostly bicep, pull ups work your lats and back depending on how wide your grip is.

      1. I guess I have two things to work on…this exercise has been something that has always haunted me since grade-school (this and the rope climb)…I just hang there and then eventually fall; however, I can do real push-ups not as many as the girly kind! : )

  6. Just finished this workout and I have to say, it was harder than I thought it would be! The 20 mins. flew by though and it was actually pretty fun (I put some mellow tunes on in the background to help the time go by). Thanks Mark!

  7. I am just getting started with the exercis part of the program. Any advice on what I should be focusing on first is welcomed.

    1. Five exercises per workout, start slow and do all of level one the first workout. If you have difficulty in one any movement that’s the one to work on. Did the whole level and it was easy … Level 2
      For me the best bang for the extra effort is the plank – planks help all other movements. IMO

  8. Just curious if most people can do more chinups or pullups. I can do more chins than pulls, what about everyone else?

    1. Yes, chin-ups are a little easier because your biceps and shoulders are in a more favorable position.

  9. First time performing the 1-2-3 workout and I think I under-paced myself a bit.

    I pushed out 53 sets while focusing on form and power (explosiveness). Next time I will be shooting for 60+.

    Thanks for the WoWs Mark!

  10. great break from the normal routine. I just did 38 rounds and I can go on nice bike ride now without being too fatigued. Thanks for the tip!

  11. I am impressed with this workout. This type of circuit is pretty complete as it covers the upper body and lower body. I am a big fan of pull ups and definitely have to say that this is an excellent way of gaining upper body strength.


  12. just completed this workout. 51 cycles in 20 min. it kicked my butt…

  13. I’ve been doing simplefit for 8 months now. I started in level 1 with 25 rounds in 20 minutes, progressed to level 5 in 4 months. Then I got a weigh west of 11kg (24 lbs) and started with it at level 3. Just yesterday I reached level 5 again with this vest. For just about 40 minutes of training each week, this definitely builds lots of muscles and endurance.

  14. I just tried this today…. I am a puddle! What a great 20 minute butt-kicker!

    I love that in order to go quickly, one is forced to do a squat thrust to get down to push up and get back up to squat. My abs are thrilled.

    I only got 45 reps in, but spent a lot of time making sure I did not lose count (I obsess).

    Now I have a number to beat!

    Awesome workout!

  15. I have been doing this WO in lieu of actual running sprints while my Achilles tendon heals.

    Started off with about 45 in 20 min 3 weeks ago. Yesterday I did 60 in 20min.

    Oddly enough, even though squats are my best basic primal exercise, they were the most painful of the three.

    I was huffing and puffing at the end, but this is nothing compared to the gasping I do at the end of sprints-can’t wait to run those again.