Bob Harper’s Skinny Rules Workouts

SRWODBob Harper has created 12 workouts to accompany his Skinny Rules plan. They are all short workouts, all clocking in at under 20 minutes (not including the warm up; if the warm up is done with the workouts you can tack on 11 minutes, which puts most of them at or over 20 minutes and several around 30 minutes). I am starting this review before I have done all of the workouts (have only done one as I begin the review), so I am sure my thoughts will evolve the more of them I do. My first thought about them, before doing any of them, was–20 minutes?!?! Really Bob? The reason I say that is,  if you have done any of his other workouts, he mocks short workouts! Even going so far as to say–“10 minute workout? That’s a warm up!” To be honest, I agree with him in most cases. However… knowing what I have learned about Bob (he is a Crossfit junky) and the titles of these Skinny Rules workouts (WOD, or Workout of the Day–what Crossfitters call their workouts), I suspect he is going to give us some serious HIIT workouts. Which, based on the science of interval training, a HIIT is more effective in almost every aspect than a steady state workout. They do more for you in far less time. Plus, if you are doing them right, it is just not possible to do an hour straight of HIITs. In addition, Crossfit is very advanced and intense.

Lets start with how this package is put together. There are 3 DVDs. Each DVD comes in a cardboard sleeve. Cheap? Yes, but I don’t care. Honestly. I have 100+ workout DVDs and am running out of room to store tham all. The sleeves work for me. The advertisement for these workouts states that you get 90 days of rotation calendars, but only one 30 day rotation calendar comes with the 3 disk set. I don’t care since I never planned to use the rotations anyway, but I have read some very irritated reviews about this. However, Bob does make the other two 30 day calendars available on his website.

The workouts are categorized by disk. Each disk contains 4 workouts. There is a cardio disk, a strength disk and a core disk. The set up of the disks is rather interesting as well. There is one warm up for all of the WODs and it is listed separately on each disk; for instance, on the cardio workout there is a warm up, listed separately on the menu, then the 4 workouts, each listed separately (more on this in a minute). So you use the same warm up for all 12 WODs. The workouts are listed as WOD 1, WOD 2, WOD 3 and WOD 4. Also, there are two ways you can view these workouts. If it is the first time you are doing the workout, you can (and should) choose the WOD that begins with the breakdown. If you’re familiar with the workout, you can just choose the workout with no breakdown. There are no cool downs or stretches. In the breakdown Bob tells you what exercises you will be doing and demonstrates them, stressing important form pointers. He also gives you a breakdown of how the workout will proceed. For example, in Cardio WOD 1’s breakdown, he tells you that the workout consists of 2 moves. He demonstrates the moves and tells you how many reps you do of each move. Then he tells you that the WOD is 14 minutes and you will alternate between these two exercises. You have one minute to do each exercise the specified number of reps and the rest of that minute is your recovery time. So the faster you do the reps (with good form) the more recovery time you get. So, as you can see, the breakdowns contains important information.

What the separate warm up means, is if you are coming to the workout cold, do the warm up, then the WOD. Cool yourself down and stretch (your on your own for that). If you are using these workouts as an add on–you can save time and go straight to the workout since you are already warmed up from whatever you were doing before.

I really like this idea. I can use these workouts anyway I want–as an add on to a another workout or as a short but intense doubles workout after work. And these are tough little HIIT workouts! I am impressed. All of the workouts, including the warm ups, have a timer, so you can count down the time until it is done.
Though short, these are advanced workouts. However, there is a modifier for every WOD, so even if you aren’t an advanced exerciser you can do these workouts and still get a good burn.
Lets go to the reviews. I’ll review the warm up first since it is the same on all of the disks. I found the warm up unusual and I didn’t particularly like it. In the future, when I use these workouts alone (rather than as add ons to other workouts) I will use another warm up. I like Cathe‘s All Out Low Impact HIIT warm up and cool down. Together, the warm up and cool down add a total of 8 minutes to any workout. **This was my initial idea and I may return to it at some point. However, what I am currently doing is warming up on my own during Bob’s WOD breakdown. Even after I do all of the WODs, there are 12 of them! It’s not like I will remember the breakdown when I return to one. Plus, when I am doing multiple WODs, the break down of the second and third WOD I do can also count as a recovery period from the WOD I just did.  


Warm up 11 minutes
Inhale and exhale, reaching overhead
Lateral bends while holding arms overhead
Reach arms back, arching back and looking up
8 “Inch worms” (bend at waist, walk hands out so that you are in a high plank, lower your body to the ground and arch back into cobra; turn your head right then left then front, walk hands back to feet and stand)
Alternating front lunges (each time you lunge you will hold in a deep lunge with arms stretched overhead)
Forward bend and walk out into down dog
While in down dog lift legs high behind you, stretching hips
5 deep air squats, slow and controlled
Hold in deep squat then stand up fast and powerful–do that twice
Hold in deep squat then explode upward–jumping–do that 4 times
Jump rope for the last 1 minute and 20 seconds

Cardio WODs

WOD 1: 14 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 2:30 to the total time (16:30). This is pretty simple, but also pretty intense. Two moves–burpees and air squats. You do 12 burpees and 25 air squats. You have one minute to do each and you alternate them. The faster you complete the exercises (with good form) the more recovery time you get. I managed to do my burpees in approx. 30 seconds, so that gave me 30 seconds of recovery time and my air squats took me a little longer–35-40 seconds, giving me about 20 seconds of recovery time.

WOD 2: 18 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 2:30 minutes to the total time (20:30). You do 6 rounds of 3 exercises. You get two minutes to do each round, then rest for one minute. The sooner you finish, the more recovery time you get. I generally finished with 20-30 seconds of the two minutes to spare, so I had 60+ seconds of recovery. And trust me–I needed it! These are INTENSE. Very challenging for such a short workout. I was sucking wind by the end. His exercisers were having a hard time getting through this WOD by the end as well.

Rounds 1 & 2 consists of 30 mountain climbers, 10 burpees, 15 jumping goblet squats; Rounds 3-6 consists of 60 mountain climbers, 10 burpees, 15 jumping goblet squats.


WOD 3: 16 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 4 minutes to the total time (20). Another toughy and a 2 parter. Each part is done the same (except part two has stuff added to the end). You do each exercise for 45 seconds with a 15 second recovery. You do two rounds. 45 seconds doesn’t seem like a long time on paper–but 45 seconds of tuck jumps and jump lunges feels like forever!
Part 1–do two rounds 45 seconds on, 15 second recovery
Jumping air squats
Hand release push ups
Tuck jumps
Part 2-do two rounds 45 seconds on, 15 second recovery
Dumbbell push press
Jump lunges
After the final jump lunges you go immediately into alternating front lunges for a minute and 30 seconds, then hold static lunges–approx 20 seconds each side.


WOD 4: 8 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 4 minutes to the total time (12). This WOD is short, but crazy! I was wiped out in 8 short minutes! Very effective workout when you are short on time. There are two moves: dumbbell thrusters and burpees. The format is a little odd, but you get the hang of it quickly: 10-1, 1-10.
You do 10 dumbbell thrusters, 1 burpee.
Then 9 thrusters, 2 burpees.
Then 8 thrusters, 3 burpees… and so on until you end with the count reversed: 1 dumbbell thruster and 10 burpees. If you are going the same speed as the exercisers you will finish in approx. 6 minutes. You get about 30 seconds to recover then the last 90 seconds he has you doing nonstop dumbbell thrusters for speed.


Strength WODs:
WOD 1: 15 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 5 minutes to the total time (20). Holy #$&*@ cow. WOD 1 has me scared for the rest of the strength WODs. Not only was this WOD hard to get through, but I was so drained afterwards. My legs felt jelly-like and the DOMS started kicking in before the evening was over. Next day? SO SORE. Impressive, really, for a mere 15 minutes. For this WOD you do 3 exercises (listed below) and you do them nonstop for 15 minutes. It is important to watch the breakdown of Bob’s WODs because he is very specific on form and if you are not using proper form, you are not going to get the full effect of the workout. For example–just about any squat he has you do is deep–and every single one of these 3 exercises incorporates a deep squat, so it is no wonder my lower body is screaming today. I was able to complete almost 13 rounds of these 3 exercises in 15 minutes. I was actually a bit ahead of his crew. They did 12 rounds I believe.
Single arm dumbbells snatch (6 each arm)

12 suitcase deadlifts
12 dumbbell thrusters


WOD 2: 18 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 4 minutes to the total time (22). This WOD has two parts but both parts are done the same. You do two exercises. One round consists of each exercise done for 30 seconds with a 30 second rest period. So one round is 2 minutes. You do 4 rounds. So after 8 minutes, there is another 2 minute breakdown in which Bob explains the next two exercises. You then do them the same way you did the first two–30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for 4 rounds. Though challenging, this wasn’t nearly as tough as Strength WOD 1.
4 rounds of hang squat clean and push press (each move 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off)
4 rounds of goblet squats and hand release push ups (each move 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off)


WOD 3: 15 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 4 minutes to the total time (19). This WOD consists of 3 rounds. Each round contains 4 exercises and one rounds lasts 4 minutes. The first 3 exercises are done for 45 seconds with 15 seconds of recovery and the last exercise is 60 seconds of jumping jacks.
Dumbbell thrusters 45 seconds on, 15 seconds recovery
Dumbbell push press 45 seconds on, 15 seconds recovery
Dumbbell front squats 45 seconds on, 15 seconds recovery
Jumping jacks 60 seconds
After 3 rounds of these exercises, you immediately do 3 burpees, then straight into 1 minute and 20 seconds of dumbbell thrusters, then immediately into 45 seconds of dumbbell front squats and you end the WOD by holding a deep squat isometrically for 30 seconds.


WOD 4: 12 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 4 minutes to the total time (16). Of all of the WODs this is the only one I genuinely did not like. It is very hard, but it was also painful and I will go so far as to say it could possible cause some repetitive movement injuries. It is based on AMRep–as many reps as possible in the time allotted and I will say that by the end my shoulders were in some serious agony. You repeat two exercises for 12 minutes, non-stop, as many rounds as you can push out. I hated it and I will probably never do this WOD again. Just to be clear–I love all the others and will probably come back them frequently. The two moves are single arm push presses and goblet squats. One round is 10 single arm dumbbell push presses (10 each arm) and 10 goblet squats. However, before you begin the rounds, you do 30 burpees. The clock starts when you start the burpees. As soon as you finish your 30 burpees you jump straight into your AMrep of rounds. When the 12 minutes is up, he brings you right to the ground for about a minute of push ups.


Core WODs:


WOD 1: 12 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 3 minutes to the total time (15). This workout is challenging, but IMHO, definitely an add on workout or one to do in combination with one of the other WODs. The first time I did it, I combined it with Cardio WOD 2, so I was already wasted when I started it! The plank holds at the end are brutal!
Part 1: You do 3 exercises for 6 minutes nonstop. Here is the structure: 15 front squats (dumbbells on shoulders), 30 hollow rocks, 15 front squats (dumbbells on shoulders), 30 flutter kicks–keep repeating this sequence until 6 minutes is up. When you finish you get a short recovery then you move into the next part.
Part 2: 60 seconds of unweighted deep squats–as fast as you can. Then you get about a 15 second break and you do it again for another 60 seconds.
No real break here–you get on the floor for the final part.
Part 3: high plank hold for two minutes.

WOD 2: 8 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 3 minutes to the total time (11). Though a good little WOD, it is too short to be done on it’s own. I will always combine this with another WOD, or use it as an add on at the end of another workout. The structure for this WOD is 3 exercises. You try to complete the required reps for each exercise in 30 seconds. The key is speed with good form because there is no “recovery” time built in, so the sooner you finish your reps, the more recovery time you have before the next exercise. You do 3 rounds. There is no recovery time between rounds, either.

15 sit ups
10 Goblet squats (holding a kettlebell)

10 V-ups
After you finish 3 rounds of the above exercises, Bob has you do 3 rounds of just goblet squats. Each round is 30 seconds and there is no allotted reps–you just do as many goblet squats as you can in 30 seconds. You get 15 seconds to rest between each round. For the final round, at the end of the 30 seconds, he has you stay in the very low, deep squat and just hold isometrically for a while.


WOD 3: 14 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 2:45  minutes to the total time (16:45). This WOD has two parts. Each part does 5 rounds of 4 different exercises. Each exercise is done for 15 seconds. This WOD starts out not seeming too difficult, but by the end of each part (4th and 5th rounds) my core was in pain!
Part 1:
 Flutter kicks
Hollow rocks
Side plank hold

Side plank hold other side
Part 2:

Forearm plank hold
Side plank, raise and lower hips
Side plank, raise and lower hips other side

WOD 4: 15 minutes; if you do the WOD with the breakdown, the break down adds 3:30 minutes to the total time (18:30). This was toughest and most challenging of all of the Core WODs. It had much more of a cardio factor than any of the other Core WODs as well. I really liked it. It was tough! You do 3 exercises:
Kettlebell swings
Sumo deadlift and high pull
You do 5 rounds of these 3 exercises, but in descending count: 50-40-30-20-10. Yes, you do 50 kettlebell swings, 50 sumo deadlift/high pulls and 50 V-ups. Then you go straight into 40 kettlebell swings, 40 sumo deadlift/hip pulls and 40 V-ups. Then 30… and so on until you end with 10. Very exhausting!


8 thoughts on “Bob Harper’s Skinny Rules Workouts

  1. Hi there! Would you be interested in selling the skinny rules box set DVDs? I can’t find them anywhere! I’m a huge Harper fan!


  2. Thanks for this. Just bought this DVD set and have been looking everywhere for a list of the exercises it involves so I can work out what I’m letting myself in for. I’m slightly scared now!


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