WOW: The Gauntlet


The Gauntlet (see instructions below)
Grok Crawl 20 yards
Duck Walk 20 yards
3×15 Reps Sandbag Slams


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

Today’s workout comes courtesy of reader Brad C. Hodson, who left ideas for four grueling workouts in the comment section two weeks ago. I drew from the first three he described. The sled drag would have been great, but I didn’t think enough people would have had access to a sled to make it work. If you do, feel free to add it in for fun. Well, maybe “fun” isn’t the right word. Add it in for punishment, rather. Having run through the workout, I can vouch both that it’s Primal approved and “punishment” is indeed the preferred nomenclature.

The Gauntlet involves arranging heavy objects 10 yards apart in a straight line. Sprint to the first object (10 yards away), pick it up with one hand, and suitcase carry it back. Sprint to the second object (20 yards away), pick it up with one hand, and suitcase carry it back. Repeat for the last two objects. Take a minute or two to catch your breath and return the objects to their original spots by suitcase carrying to and sprinting fro. A suitcase carry is like a farmer’s carry (keeping your torso tall and upright with shoulder blades back and retracted), only with one hand. It sounds easier because you’re carrying less weight, but using only one hand means you’re really unbalanced.

After the Gauntlet, take a minute to rest, then Grok crawl 20 yards, hop up, and immediately duck walk back to your starting spot. In a duck walk, you attempt to maintain the bottom position of a squat while walking. There will obviously be some vertical movement, but try to minimize it.

Take two minutes to rest, then grab your sandbag. Brad calls for a 50 pound bag, which is a good weight for a fit person, but make sure you get a bag you can handle. If you don’t have a sandbag, any heavy object that can handle a pounding will work. Sledgehammers work in a pinch, obviously, though the weight distribution is different and the effect won’t be the same. Clean the bag up to your shoulders, lift it overhead, and slam it down on the ground. Repeat 15 times for 3 sets. Rest no more than a minute in between sets.

Brad, if you’re reading this, you’ve won a Primal prize package. Thanks for the great ideas!

A few things to remember:

  • Use weights you can handle. Don’t use a sandbag so heavy that your back’s doing all the work. Don’t try to suitcase carry something that pulls your spine into dangerously lateral flexion.
  • Don’t overdo it. While this is obviously a metabolically-taxing workout, don’t let your form suffer in pursuit of a faster time. Keep your movements crisp and clean, especially on the sandbag slams.


Feel free to add or subtract weight, distance, or reps as needed.

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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8 thoughts on “WOW: The Gauntlet”

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  1. My wife, myself, and my friends get so much from your site and I’m glad I could offer a little something back.

    We bought a tire and a sledgehammer the other day. I’ll keep you posted on the crazy things we end up doing with that.

    Thanks again, Mark. The Primal Blueprint has changed our lives. Now, off to do the WOW!

  2. Good point on keeping everything crisp & clean. Its easy to get rolling and tired and get sloppy. Especially with sandbags!

  3. Since i lack a big heavy object I can slam on the ground and since my backyard is not as wide as i’d like it to be I did a modified version of this:

    One heavy thing (3/4 a bag of dirt) at about 15 yards. Another (clubbell) at about 30 yards. Sprint to the second and carry it back overhead. Sprint to the first and carry it back overhead or in a duck walk (whatever feels most terrible at the moment). Then a bear crawl to the other end of the yard (about 30 yards) and a sprint back followed by clubbell swings (I had a set of them to do anyway).

    I was completely whipped. good stuff.

  4. Dear Mark: I ‘d like to say Thank You for all the excellent advice you post on your Daily Apple and related sites. My son who is in the Military (Navy) bought and gave me your book to read and eventually signed me in to your website (very instructive)makes us re-think about our own lives and really see the picture of it. My question to you is this: I recently fell sick and as result I suddenly lost about 50 Lbs. I am 4’9″ and I used to weight 178.00 Lbs. I am Diabetic but a result of this weight loss my numbers went also(suddenly) down were instead off reading 200-300 before breakfast now my readings are 130-170.Due to an eye ailment I acquired (Glaucoma) the medication I am taking has altered my taste buds to were everything I used to like and even what I never liked it tastes awful. Mark I confess to you I am totally afraid to even eat or drink except water (this one has to be icy cold)I am in a state of mind that keeps me thinking whatever I’ll eat will taste not bad but strange.An example: Coca-Cola: tastes bitter ( I can live with out it) so, I discovered. veggies and meat when cooked have this taste that even if I know I used to like it suddenly I stop before I put it in my mouth.It’s very frustrating because I really want to eat the right foods but this problem keeps me Hungry and (Angry) aside from that my stomach and my arms look awful after all these pounds have been gone. do you have any exercises for these areas that I can start using? Thank You for the kind attention you give to my Note. Sincerely, Coral.P.S: Keep up the good work Mark You are an awesome person, I wish I could I have heard of you years ago.I am 58.

  5. I did something similar to The Gauntlet last weekend, but mine was a 50 meter weighted carry using a log, water cans and sand bags for a total of 1000Kg moved. It was hard and punishing but great fun.