WOW: Sprint Complex

Complete 4 (or more) in succession:

2 10-second Standard Sprints
2 10-second Uphill Sprints
2 20-second Grok Crawl Sprints
2 12-second Backward Run Sprints
2 150-meter Rowing Sprints
2 50-meter Swim Sprints, any stroke
2 quarter-mile Uphill Cycle Sprints


Warmup: 30 second Grok Squat, three light sprints at 70%.

Sprinting is an essential part of Primal Blueprint Fitness, and it comes in many forms. The standard method is, of course, the classic sprint: running as fast as you absolutely can for short bursts of time. That’s fantastic, maybe even the most effective, efficient way to reap the benefits of sprint training, but it’s not the only way. And we like to play around here. We like to enjoy ourselves when we train.

I’d argue that as long as you’re moving yourself through temporal space with maximum intensity, it’s a sprint, whether you’re crawling, swimming, cycling, rowing, or simply running. So today’s WOW is a sampler of sorts; it’s a gentle nudge in the direction of variety. After today, you can stick to running if none of the other sprints appeal to you, but I only ask that you give it your all and branch out a bit for this WOW. You may find something you like. Maybe you’re still not comfortable running. Maybe you’re nursing an injury that prevents true sprinting. If so, this could be the perfect WOW for you.

I’ve covered sprinting before and you’re probably aware of the basic method. So, to begin, do a couple standard sprints. Go all out, and be sure to rest in between each. This isn’t HIIT; this is trying to go as fast as you can each time. From there, branch out. Pick three or four (or more) of the other sprint methods and give them a shot. Obviously, you’ll need a body of water for the swimming one, a rowing machine (or actual water vessel) for the rowing one, and a bike for the cycling one, but I’m sure you have access to at least one of those.

A few things to remember:

  • Take sufficient breaks between sprints so that you have fully recovered and can give your next sprint your best effort. This WOW isn’t timed so don’t worry about how quickly you get through the entire complex. I recommend 20-60 seconds rest between sprints; more if you need it. And even then you’ll complete this WOW in less than 20 minutes.
  • Uphill sprints are tough. You’ll probably want to fizzle out and give up the last few steps, but don’t! You have it in you to finish strong; that’s just your nervous system trying to give up before your body does. You can ignore it for the last couple seconds.
  • Grok crawl sprints are most effective when you keep those hips low. Don’t form an upside down V with the ground and try to be conscious of using your arms (pulling yourself as well as pushing), along with your legs. Don’t make it all legs, which is often the instinct.
  • Backward sprinting should be done on a reliable surface, obviously. Don’t go tromping through the woods amidst roots and rocks with this one.
  • Make sure you’re pulling with your heels when you row. As with other pulling exercises (deadlift, clean, etc), your heels need to make contact. Don’t go up on your toes.
  • Swimming is great for those with debilitating joint issues, but I wouldn’t replace land-based sprints entirely. Sometimes, you need the resistance to maintain good bone mass and strength. Freestyle is the basic stroke best for sprinting, but butterfly will take a lot out of you.
  • You never forget how to ride a bike, right? If you don’t have an actual bike, feel free to use a stationary one. Just be sure to hit those hills!


These are estimated times and distances. Use them as guidelines, but if you find you can’t maintain top speed for, say, a quarter mile on the bike or 50 meters in the pool, find a time or a distance that allows you to really sprint. The sprint, the max effort, is the important part here.

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.

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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10 thoughts on “WOW: Sprint Complex”

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  1. Love this weeks workout. Although my local pond officially froze over this weekend, I will have to make a big variant for the swimming and rowing. This mirrors my typical sprint workout, minus the swimming and biking.
    thanks Mark,

  2. This is off topic but important to everyone interested in being allowed to make their own food choices. The senate is going to vote today on S510 (Google it). It is a bill that would make it a crime for people to grow food in their backyard and sell it at a farmer’s market. There are many other powers that this gives to the FDA which, we all know, is very misinformed in the first place. Monsanto, however, and other large corporate food producers are in favor of this bill, as it will allow the gov’t to eliminate competition from smaller local farmers, those who produce better quality healthier food. Everyone should contact their senator and tell them to VOTE NO on S510.

  3. So we are supposed to pick 4 categories out of the list and do each of them twice? I’m not sure if I’m reading the instructions right.

    Probably try this tonight, thanks Mark.

    1. I think it means to do each sprint 2 times, and do the whole round 4 times.
      That’s a lot of sprints Mark!

      1. No, that can’t be right…because Mark suggested 20-60 seconds rest between efforts. Even if every effort took 10 seconds and every rest was only 20 seconds, that is 30 seconds per interval. There are 7 different sprints x2 x30 seconds is 7 minutes for all of them (minimum). So if you did them all 4 times, you’d take 28 minutes and Mark said this would take no longer than 20 minutes. I think Uncephalized was right – pick 4 of the 7 that work for you and do each twice. 8 total intervals, which sounds more in line with Marks’ recommendations for sprint workouts in PBF.

  4. about 10 minutes to finish…
    brought my surf ski and bike to the beach in the back of my ute…not sure if my distances were right, but whatever – i was pooped.

  5. The very first sentence above the workouts says complete 4 (or more), then in the how to: it says Pick three or four (or more)of the workouts. So, yes you are to pick the four that you prefer. KISS method says pick four of the above workouts go all out twice each and plenty of rest between.