WOW: Sledgehammer

Complete four cycles:

15 Around the Heads (both directions)
15 Stakhanov Shovels (both sides)
15 Spear Lunges (both sides)


Warmup: 30 second Grok Squat, 1 minute Grok Hang.

Before I describe the workout, I have to give credit to its inspiration. Long time reader and commenter Timothy has been perfecting the art of sledgehammer swinging for a couple years now. You may already visited his website, Urban Primalist, but if you haven’t, check it out. He provides extensive detailed instruction on all the various ways to swing a sledgehammer and repurpose the common workman’s tool for the purposes of physical fitness.

At PrimalCon, Timothy showed up with a bevy of hammers and he put on several impromptu clinics for fellow guests. His enthusiasm for the hammers really shined through. I think the clinic participants felt the same way. So Timothy, this one’s for you.

What I like about Timothy’s approach is that it’s more than just bashing the heck out of things as hard and as fast as you can. Now, I love that too, and while tire whacking certainly has its place, the sledgehammer is a far more nuanced piece of exercise equipment. Using it doesn’t have to be jarring; it can be fluid and graceful. Besides, if you want to get in a quick workout in your living room and all you have is a sledgehammer, you don’t want to go bashing in your couch cushions. You want a kinder, gentler (but no less effective) option. This is that option.

I’ve talked about Around the Heads before in the mace post from a couple years back. Here’s a video that shows exactly what to do. Of course, since you’re using a sledgehammer, you’ll want to be extra careful swinging that thing in vicinity of your brain.

Read Timothy’s treatments of the Stakhanov Shovel and Spear Lunge for a good primer on each.

A few things to remember:

  • Keep a strong, engaged core. Power is transmitted through your core, and a weak, floppy one will mean weak, ineffectual movements.
  • Watch your surroundings when you’re swinging. Hammers are designed to do damage, after all.


To make things harder, vary your grip on the hammer. Choke up toward the head to make things easier; choke down toward the end of the handle to make things harder. This makes progression with a single hammer easy by increasing the length of the lever. It’s also affordable. Rather than buy heavier hammers each time the last gets too easy to handle, simply vary where you grip the handle.

Winner of Last Week’s WOW Contest:

The randomly chosen winner of last week’s WOW contest is skink531. Congrats to skink and thanks to everyone that submitted their favorite Primal workouts.

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 more than three decades 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 flavorful and delicious kitchen staples crafted with premium ingredients like avocado oil. With over 70 condiments, sauces, oils, and dressings in their lineup, Primal Kitchen makes it easy to prep mouthwatering meals that fit into your lifestyle.

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