Primal Blueprint Fitness isn’t boot camp. It’s not SEAL training, where the intent is to break you down, physically and psychologically, to see how you can handle it. PBF is effective but supportive, and the WOWs are for the people, the kids, the athletes, and the puppy dogs. Put it like this: as long as she’s not in a walker with a pocket full of Fosamax, I expect Grandma to be able to scale most WOWs into something approaching a decent workout, and I expect a strong experienced athlete to be able to scale them up to make a worthwhile one, too.
So, today, with the holidays within arm’s reach and the family members gathering like buzzards around a wounded, stranded gazelle, the Workout of the Week is about spending quality time with relatives engaged in the healthy, fulfilling, communal pursuit of physical improvement and play. If previous attempts to rally reluctant relatives to the exercise front have failed, now’s a great time; most people, having gorged on holiday treats throughout the week, will be down to workout. You know, to burn those calories (even as you mention something about improved insulin sensitivity).
Another thing about the holidays is that they’re so chaotic. There are parties to attend, family to pick up from the airport, flights to catch, dinners to plan, overcrowded malls to visit, and presents to wrap – on top of your regularly scheduled lives. What’s supposed to be an enjoyable, stress-free week or two becomes a mad dash to and fro. Today’s WOW avoids all that, with activities that are decidedly anti-stress (except for the microstressors applied to your musculature) in a period known for massive stress headaches.
You all remember leapfrog, don’t you? You’ll need a partner for this. Have him or her kneel or squat down in front of you. Using your hands against their back for guidance or balance as needed, you jump over your partner and land in the kneel or squatting position in front of him or her, at which point your partner does the same over you. Repeat for 100 meters. Keep the jumps smooth and flowing. If you have an odd number of people in your group, this exercise can be done with three people in the leapfrog chain; just go another 50 meters.
Then, race back to the starting position in an all-out sprint, giving everyone a half minute to a minute of rest. Parties of three worried about those extra 50 meters? Tough – you got extra rest periods during leapfrog.
After the race, assemble everyone into two tug-of-war teams by total strength. It might be the two young studs of the family against the rest of the brood; as long as each side is roughly equal in strength, pay no mind to the numbers. Traditionally, the losers were pulled into a pit of mud and/or water, but I don’t expect you to go that far (although you get bonus points for doing it!). Just establish clear boundaries that, once breached, mark the breachers as losers. Losers do ten burpees, perhaps in time to the disparaging remarks of the winners. Obviously, you’ll need a strong rope.
A few things to remember:
When leapfrogging, do not shuffle your feet when you land, nor move backward to accommodate the guy about to leap over you. Leap from your landing position to make them count.
“Quality” doesn’t just refer to passing time with loved ones; it’s also about making your movements count. Be precise and efficient when you leap, run, and tug. Focus on quality of movement.
Try not to use your partner’s back as a propulsion surface in the leapfrog. Those arms may be strong, but they aren’t designed to jump. Use them more for guidance and balance than generating movement.
For Grandma and anyone else who can’t do the leapfrog or sprint, a solo “leapfrog” type jump where you kinda hop along the ground works just as well and is more manageable for the less experienced among us. If that’s too much, just walking or jogging the distance is totally fine. This isn’t about forging senior citizens into elite rippling athletes. I just want people to move when, where, and how they can. Everyone, however, must participate in the tug-of-war, even if it’s simply as an agitator to the opposing side.
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.
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.