Maniac Monday Workout: Primal Playground

This week’s Maniac Monday Workout borrows from the Primal Blueprint Fitness philosophy as described at Mark’s Daily Apple. The Primal Playground Workout is a fun and intense series of primal exercises that includes jumping, sprinting, climbing, lifting heavy things and simulating some of the very basic movements used by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The goal here is not to just act like “Grok,” but to get outside, get some sun and expand your mud run training repertoire with a few creatively simple primal tasks. (Scroll down to view my Primal Playground demo on YouTube!)

The moral of the story, when faced with a challenge, just toss your hat, or in this case a bowling ball, over the fence and get started!

So let’s get right to it!…Here’s what you need:

  • a playground with a jungle gym or swing set
  • a round heavy object, like a bowling ball, medicine ball, etc.

To complete the Primal Playground Workout:

  • 25 Box Jumps: Box jumps help build your lower body power and develop balance and stability. Stand in front of a stable park bench or table, or something between 2 and 3 feet high. Leap up and land softly on the balls of your feet with your feet about hip-width apart. Swing your arms back then forward while you jump to help gain momentum and maintain your balance. Leap backward off the object and land in a similar position on the ground. Aim for form first, speed second.
  • 25 “Throw Your Hat Over the Fence:” The expression derives from a story in which a farmer’s boy has the difficult task of disassembling a high fence. His father comes to check on him and seeing that his son’s dejection, he asks, “What’s wrong?” The son complains that the fence is very high and it will take him hours to get the job done. The father takes the son’s hat and tosses it over the fence. Stunned, the boy demands, “Why did you throw my hat over the fence?” to which the father replies, “”Son, in order to get your hat back, you’re going to have to take down a few boards. You might even take down a few more and before you know it, you’re done. Or, you may take down just enough boards to get to your hat and decide that’s enough for today. That’s okay because you can come back to tomorrow, throw your hat over the fence, and take a few more down. Either way you’ll get the job done.” The moral of the story, when faced with a challenge, just toss your hat, or in this case a bowling ball, over the fence and get started! Then hop over the fence, pick up the ball and hurl it back.
  • 50 Upside Down Mountain Climbers: Just like the real thing, except your starting positing will be upside down in an inverted shoulder press position with your feet against a tree and your hands on the ground.
  • 50 Jump Lunges: A great variation of the lunge movement. Hold your weight in front of your chest, lower into a lunge position, spring up in the air and switch your feet. Repeat. As a reminder, set your form slowly, then try for speed.
  • 50 Deep Bodyweight Squats: Lower your “ass to the grass” to perform this deep squat movement. Just remember to keep your knees at about hip-width apart and focus on keeping them aiming straight ahead. This low-impact movement can be performed quite fast once you get the hang of it.
  • 15 Primal Pullups: Good ol’ fashioned pullups on a swing-set. The thicker bar will work your grip strength. For a super-primal workout, leap up, swing your feet over the bar, then turn and switch your body to the opposite side of the bar before you hit your pullups. Check out my demo in the video below.
  • 25 Decline Pushups: Prop your toes up on an incline of about 1 1/2 – 2 feet and hit your best and fastest pushups.
  • 200 Yards Throw and Chase: Just like it sounds…take your ball and give it a two-handed underhand hurl as far and high as you can. Sprint after it, pick it up and hurl it again. Continue for about one hundred yards, turn around and do it all over again.
  • Want more? Climb a tree!

Bonus challenge: Repeat entire cycle for time. Complete while wearing a weighted vest. Add in your own exercises such as climbing up and over monkey bars, jump-tuck-and-roll off a park bench or table, bear crawl up a slide, high jump over a tennis court net…be creative!

Mud Run Maniac wants to know what you think! What kind of primal movements do you incorporate into your mud run training? What other topics or exercises would you like to see featured in Maniac Monday Workouts? Please no spam-mongers. Keep mudding!

Meet the Author

Mud Run Maniac
Mud Run Maniac

I'm the proud owner of, specializing in mud run training and tips! The mud run community is growing fast and I’ve made it my responsibility to keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest mud running topics.

3 comments… add one
  • Devin McCormick Mar 31, 2012, 11:28 am

    Do you have a team yet? Haha. How do you choose members for your team? What do you think the most important strenght is to build on for the mud run? (agility, strength, endurance, etc)

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