WOW: Unilateral Engagement

Complete 5 cycles:

20 Walking Weighted Lunges
14 Single Arm Overhead Press (7 each arm)
10 Single Leg Deadlift (5 each leg)
16 Single Arm Bent Over Row (8 each arm)


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

I emphasize compound, full body movements, because they mimic the way we use our bodies in a natural setting and they give us the most bang for the buck by employing multiple muscles at once. Squats beat leg extensions, pullups beat bicep curls, and overhead presses beat lateral shoulder raises. But what about unilateral movements? Instead of using both limbs to move a weight, you’re using a single limb to move it. It’s still a compound movement that uses a full range of motion and lots of muscles – it just sticks to one side of the body.

These are valuable additions to any routine, because many of our actions are unilateral and real life doesn’t always afford us the opportunity to square up and get everything involved. Sprinting is a unilateral movement, for example. Unilateral movements also allow us to increase the load without actually adding weight. A lunge is tougher than a squat with the same weight, because one leg is de-emphasized. And because you’re dealing with less total weight, everything is a bit safer. Folks with bad backs that can’t handle a full weighted squat, for example, might find weighted lunges offer plenty of stimulus.

You’ll need a weight that can be held with one hand, of course. A dumbbell, kettlebell, or even a sandbag will work great here.

A few things to remember:

  • Keep a tight core. Since the weight will be on one side of your body, you’ll have to maintain balance while performing the lift.
  • For help with the single leg deadlifts, check out this past WOW for a good description.
  • When lunging, push through your heels and don’t let your knee go past your toes on the lead leg.


No variations this time.

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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