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How to Create Primal Bodyweight Workouts: The Primal 6 Model

Written by
February 23, 2014
Updated April 12, 2018

Why do so many people underestimate Bodyweight Training? I bet if you ask most people to scramble up a bodyweight workout there is a good chance you will see an abundance of Crunches, Jumping Jacks, and Push Ups. Am I right? This approach isn’t very effective, especially if the goal is to tone muscles, burn fat, and build awesome strength.

The key to executing an effective bodyweight workout is not necessarily the exercise selections, the time allotted, or the  volume and number of reps, but more so on the programming. Ask yourself: Why am I doing this workout? What am I trying to accomplish? Are Push Ups, Crunches, and Jumping Jacks the best combination for my body?

At my fitness company, Absolutraining, I use some tools for designing insane bodyweight workouts called the Primal 6 Model. Remember, anyone can put together a quick bodyweight workout (Push Ups and Jumping Jacks), but what I am going to show you is how to design a monster workout using the Primal 6 model to get the results that you deserve. You will learn appropriate movement patterns, why you need them, and how to get creative when designing workouts.

What is the Primal 6 Model?

Primal 6 dates back to the beginning of man. Our ancient ancestors relied heavily on six natural (primal) movements for hunting and gathering, running away and escaping from predators, and for survival in general. These six primal movements were essential for ancestral life and survival and have been carried over to us (even if most people barely utilize them).

Granted, in today’s setting we don’t need to hunt for food anymore (a Fresh N’ Easy is always nearby). But that doesn’t mean we can’t train like our ancient ancestors. If you incorporate the Primal 6 Model into your weekly training program like I do, you will see significant improvements in your fitness including increased body awareness, a stronger core, and huge stability upgrades. The Primal 6 is absolutely crucial for reaching optimal ancestral fitness!

Jon Celis’ Primal 6 Essential Movements

1. Run/Jog
2. Jump (Quad/Hip Dominant)
3. Twist/Rotate/Anti-rotation
4. Crawl (quadruped position)
5. Push (Horizontal/Vertical)
6. Pull (Horizontal/Vertical)

Primal 6 Movement Examples


Primal Movement: How to do a Headstand

Handstand Walk

Primal Movement: How to do a Handstand Walk

Alternating 1-Arm Push Up

Primal Movement: How to do 1-Arm Push Ups

Burpee Push Up

Primal Movement: How to do Burpee Push Ups

Aztec Push Up

Primal Movement: How to do Aztec Push Ups

How To Create a Primal 6 Bodyweight Workout Program

The Primal 6 Model is fairly simple. All you have to do is include all six primal movements into your workout. You can mix and match the order as you please. Exercise selection is entirely up to you and some exercise/ positions might include a similar movement pattern. Don’t panic, just do your best in sticking to the Primal 6 Movements and your bodyweight workout and programming skills will be rock solid! Of course, don’t be shy in programming. Know your own fitness level and program accordingly. Make it difficult if possible or scale it down to your desired comfort level. Remember the point is to shed fat, look good, and build muscle. Keep that in mind and pony up. Below you’ll find an example of a beginner workout along with the appropriate primal movement pattern:

Beginner Primal Bodyweight Workout

A1: Push Ups (Push)
A2: Air Squats (Quad/Hip)
A3: Russian Twist (Twist)
A4: Inverted Row (Pull)
A5: Mountain Jumper (Quadruped)
A6: Jog

It’s that simple. Notice how the exercise selection matches the Primal 6 movement pattern. Adjust the clock and/or volume to your own fitness capacity. Remember to work hard and break a sweat. I like to think of Rambo while designing my bodyweight workout, but that’s just me.

The example below is for the “Badass.” If you like a challenge, then I suggests giving it a whirl! You can find each of the exercises throughout the article.

Advanced Primal Bodyweight Workout

A1: Sprint Uphill (Run)
A2: Aztec Push Up (Pull)
A3: Handstand Walk (Crawl)
A4: Burpee to 360 Jump (Quad/Hip)
A5: Tripod (Anti-Rotation)
A6: Alternating 1-Arm Push Up (Push)

As mentioned, make sure to have fun when designing your workout. If your fitness level is off the charts but your program is weak, your results will suffer. Be sure to give an accurate self-analysis of fitness and follow the Primal 6 template: program accordingly and scale down volume if necessary. Remember, bodyweight training doesn’t have to be plain and boring, you can make it challenging! People will look at you in awe and envy your hardcore training. Mastering your fitness requires mastering your own bodyweight. I like to put my results to the test and so should you!

Primal 6 Advanced Bodyweight Workout Video


Jon Celis is an elite fitness professional who specializes in real world fat loss. His degree in Kinesiology and reputable certifications has led to his success in becoming one of the newest yet profound trainers in Southern California.
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