WOW: Slowdown

Complete two cycles of the following, slowly:

12 Pushups
15 Squats
10 Pullups
2 Minute Plank


Warmup: 30 second Grok Squat, lateral, forward, and backward leg swings (10 each leg).

I was privileged to speak at Bo Railey’s fabulous Indy HIT seminar last month in Indianapolis. While there, I had the the pleasure to train with Bo and Dr. Doug McGuff, of Body By Science fame, using the SuperSlow Systems equipment at one of Bo’s Exercise Inc. facilities. I did a row, an overhead press, and a leg press. “Pleasure” may not be the right word, because this was not pleasurable. It was over quickly, but it was intensely unpleasant in a good way. I’ll invite Doug to guest post on the concept in a few weeks.

I’m still not a machine guy – though I admit they are effective, especially when helmed by a guy like Doug or Keith Norris – but I thought it’d be interesting to see what it’d be like doing bodyweight movements using the super-slow protocol. It turned out pretty well. The pullups in particular got me sweating and straining, and I got a nice bit of DOMS the following day. For a change of pace, it’s worth trying. Let me know what you think.

A few things to remember:

  • For pushups, go four seconds down, pause for a second, then push up for four.
  • For squats, go four seconds down, pause for two seconds at or below parallel, then go up for four.
  • For pullups, three seconds up, hold for two seconds at the top, then lower yourself in four seconds.
  • Break up the reps as needed, but try not to.


No variations this time, but feel free to do the movement progression step that you feel most comfortable doing. These are tough, even if they don’t look like it, so you’ll want to choose the progression that you can actually complete as described.

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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13 thoughts on “WOW: Slowdown”

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  1. Love it, I tried to do my normal 3×5 workout today and was gassed (even after a carby weekend!). So will be doing this later. Seems like I need more sleep!

  2. I did something similar to this yesterday using parks and monkey bars etc. I did some stuff slow, some stuff fast, and some stuff in between. I was almost too tired last night to stretch before bed and I can feel a lot of DOMS today so I assume it was effective. Here’s how it went: I would normally have warmed up by climbing some trees and then doing the monkey bars forwards and backwards but I was in a bad mood and thus didn’t feel like climbing trees plus I tore some calluses on my hands doing the monkey bars as fast as I could last week so carrying around a fairly heavy duffel bag for a while had to suffice. I walked to one park and used the regular monkey bars for some pull-ups and dips and then once tired I walked to another with some different arched monkey bars perfect for hooking your legs and feet in and doing upside down situps. After tiring out all the muscles involved I used a towel to do chinups, rested for a while, then went back to the youth shelter I live at and did more chinups and pullups on a tree branch and situps with a rock behind my head using a picnic table to hook my feet under so I could do them declined. A bit later on I did dips using a corner in the kitchen counter and between two picnic tables with my feet on one. Great workout! Try it some time. You can also go to a park or something and find rocks to lift and throw around in various ways for natural exercise.

  3. Been following Dougs/John Littles routine now for about 10 months and it works wonders. Also done it with body weight and found it very pleasing not as intense as the original routine but something i can do 2-3 times a week.

    Great post btw Mark 🙂

  4. Ugh. The push-ups and planks together were more than a wee bit tough on the biceps. Next time I think I’d switch the push-ups to tricep dips.

  5. Two things: I took your advice (you said,”…I’ve really loved the classic ‘as many sets of five pull-ups, ten pushups, and fifteen air squats in fifteen minutes’ routine…”) and baby, did THAT burn! And second, I skipped my “next meal” (which was lunch) as you instructed in today’s insider and did that 5-10-15 workout in a semi-fasted state – wow… I’m a puddle. Excellent, excellent suggestions – thank you!

  6. I did this and was beat. I love this method. I’m doing it again next week, probably Monday since Friday is time for the monthly challenge!

    I did not count.

    I have a question for Mark or anyone…

    Is the amount of seconds going up and down key? What if I took 6 seconds to go down on a push-up and 6 seconds to go up? Does it matter?

  7. Someone who took a course about exercise told me that when you work out slow you get denser muscles and more strength and when you work out fast you get bigger muscles and more power, power being how fast you are able to utilize your strength.

  8. This was great- you can really start critiquing your form when you go slowly, and making the required adjustments as you go. I have to confess to throwing in a third and fourth cycle of super fast reps too- I enjoyed the juxtaposition.

  9. I would love a calendar with a WOW a week on it- your next product maybe? 🙂

  10. I do 8 of 12 pushups, 100 reps, M/W/F. Once complete I do it for another 6 weeks, then move up to a more challenging form, i.e.. wide, narrow, then move to stairs. You don’t have to do the slow thing, just 2 seconds down, 1 up. The really slow thing? Science doesn’t really prove that it works. Don’t worry about it. On Tues and Thurs, do 7 of 15 squats, more reps for legs. Then maybe 3 sets of 15 core exercises. Saturday and Sunday is optional for extra duration. Maybe do sprints for 15 minutes on the weekend.