Break Free of Exercise Complication

Read time: 2 minutes

If you’re not a competitive bodybuilder or training to win gold at the Olympics, then you shouldn’t obsess over the design of an exercise program.

If you’re just trying to get lean, have shapely muscle on your frame, look good at the beach without looking like you spend all your time in the gym, then there’s little reason to stress over choosing “the perfect” protocol.

The fitness industry has complicated the process of exercising with a million routines. Which get confused by the public as new exercising principles.

But they’re not exercising principles. They’re just routines.

They’re just noise, competing with each other for what is in the end the same thing — improving your body. They’re like the hundreds of brands of cereals on the shelf at the store. It’s just breakfast.

It’s within many of us to be gear heads and lovers of complications, descending into the minutia of things, forgetting that the purpose of a mechanical watch is still to tell time. We suffer such instinct for an exercise program, too.

The fitness industry descends us into exercise complication with good intention for the most part, but it does so also for its own economic survival.

How do you think a personal trainer makes his dollar? How do you think a “system” is sold for 3 easy payments? It’s by convincing the public that they can’t do it on their own.

Exercise for general health, fitness, and aesthetics is really simple. It doesn’t matter what your current physical fitness level is. You can be a beginner who hasn’t exercise for decades.

The most important exercise protocol is the one you start and continue.

There are many resources. If you want to learn an exercise, look on youtube. Ask someone you can trust to spot-check your technique. (Ask for second or third opinions.)

End the worry on all the specializations, the sequencing, the sets, reps, volume, and rest periods, and just start exercising and do it more consistently.

Keep it simple.

  • Lift weight that’s progressively heavier to stimulate muscular growth and bone preservation.
  • Do something that’s progressively more intensive to increase muscle stamina and cardiac and respiratory output, which helps to improve or preserve metabolic health and prevent weight gain.

Oh, and if you want to lose fat and get lean? There’s no special exercise protocol for that — sorry.

You just gotta eat less.

Don’t be a slave to exercise.

Break free of exercise obsession, and go live

But for those of you who are still curious and love to toil with wheels and cogs and ratchets, below is a sample of my workout through a week.

MondayI do one, two or all three of the given exercise selections below, depending on how I feel. Very often, though, I just skip the entire workout and do biceps and triceps while wearing my street clothes. F it.

1)  Deadlift or Back Squat, or Clean, or Snatchsets between 1 and 5, reps between 1 and 5. No magic combination or number, just depends on how I feel.

2)  Overhead Press or Push-press or Push Jerk or JerkI often stay with the Push-Press because it’s such a comprehensive pressing movement.

3)  Pull-ups – 1 to 3 sets to failure (I don’t do pull-ups all that much).

Wednesday — Sustainable high metabolic workout, about 9 minutes.

  • 100 MedBall Slam
  • 100 Russian Twist
  • 100 MedBall Slam
  • 100 Russian Twist

Friday — sustainable high-metabolic workout, about 14 minutes.

  • 100 Kettle Bell Swings (all the way overhead)
  • 100 Burpees
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14 Responses to Break Free of Exercise Complication

  1. Johnny says:

    Thanks for posting this Johnny. I agree with your assessment that there is no magic formula. You just have to challenge your muscles with weight. Squats, deadlifts, presses, chinups and pullups, all seem to be good, full body exercises that increase muscle growth. Once a person is able to do these with good form, then they are bound to see some positive changes. And you are correct again, exercising will do very little in decreasing body fat. It’s all about diet. Currently, I am doing the full body routine from Project Swole. It’s a three day program that’s relatively simple and easily modified to fit my home gym setup. Thanks for you suggestions on your metabolic days. I will have to try those.

  2. Thank you for a GREAT articles

    I read a lot of books, did a lot of online search and finally decided on a very simple program that I simply follow, and I already start to see results. I’m not as advanced as you going into 100 reps. I am a pure beginner, and also a follow blogger here on WordPress. I do write ups of my routines with photos and videos to inspire other beginners like me that it is possible! Stay away from the hype!!!

    You can view my videos and routines on my blog, and I appreciate any feedback you would have on form or other as I am doing this alone in my home.
    Here’s the link:

    Thanks again for a great article!!!

  3. Lee says:

    Again, spot on! Oh if I could have back the enormous amount of money I spent on “proven” programs that would get me into shape and guarantee weight loss!! The old “keep it simple” works every time.

  4. Mark R. says:

    Hey Johnny, I need to clear my head and bounce some thoughts off of you if you don’t mind.

    If one is looking to burn body fat, as long as they are hypocaloric, the underlying macronutrient composition shouldn’t matter when considering their loss of body fat right? I was thinking of cycling carbs to match workout periods but then I thought that it was unnecessary to think about stuff like that as long as I am hypocaloric. I make sure to do resistance training at least a couple of times a week to maintain muscle mass while I lose weight. I think this approach makes sense but just wanted to get your opinion. Have you seen success like yours among your clients using varied approaches, as long as the average calorie deficit is there? I IF on most days to ensure a calorie deficit and then eat mostly whole/real foods when I do eat. Thanks, much appreciated. I know I’m over-thinking this and I need someone that has leaned out to make my brain turn off.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Mark,

      I have several clients lose weight just by eating whole food that is minimally processed and eating less. Their results are significant. I don’t tell them to cycle any macronutrients.

      In the end, eating less (processed) carbs work for many people to curb hunger and increase satiety. This helps them eat less. Simplicity is the key for long-term success.


  5. malpaz says:

    i like the simplicity! i work much in the same way, even more simpe as i dont have weights i stick toall body weight ad kettlebell stuff.

    do you hae any videos on some horizontal conditioning with body weight? i got the crabwalk, and walking from hands to feet across the football field. i dont have strong enough knees for burpees yet but im getting there

    • Johnny says:

      Hi malpaz,

      My best advice to you as someone who likes to keep things simple and sustainable: Don’t rush anything.

      My best advice to you as a professional personal trainer: Don’t rush anything.

      Your knees will adapt, your muscles stronger. Just take your time.

      Meanwhile, for great body weight exercises:


  6. Angelina says:

    Great post as always Johnny!

    I used to ALWAYS over complicate things regarding diet and fitness and it never worked out. For some reason we feel the need to turn everything into a program with journals and workbooks and counting and tracking… it’s just too much! Now, I don’t plan any of my workouts. I just do what my body feels like doing that day. I’m not lazy, I still challenge myself. But I keep it stress free thanks to your advice.

  7. Dan Rivera says:

    Johnny, you’re writings are appreciated by anyone and everyone who would happen to stumble upon them. Thank you for sharing your outlook with us all.
    quick question: What are your opinions about backlash from dropping calories too low? I am speaking of the ridiculous hunger that occurs following a very low calorie regimen, whether it be legitimate anorexia, dieting too hard, etc. In the context of IF, is there a point where eating less becomes stupid?
    Thanks a ton!

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Dan,

      Backlash doesn’t happen from severe caloric restriction on its own. It happens when severe caloric restriction is maintained with excessive duration.

      IF allows you to average about 10% to 20% fewer calories through time, or it allows you to eat just enough calories to maintain a lean body. Nothing severe about it.

      Anorexia and severe dieting are in a different field — and leads to malnutrition just as negatively as chronic overeating.


  8. Danny says:

    Hi Johnny,

    Great post. What would you suggest as an alternative to kettlebells and medballs for those who don’t own them, in order to have a balanced weekly workout?

    How many minutes long a strength straining session of yours is?


    • Johnny says:

      Hi Danny,

      You can use dumbbells in place of kettlebells. You can look into making your own sandbag by googling “sandbag + exercise.” Or you can google “D-Ball” and order an 8lb. or a 10lb medicine ball (these don’t bounce, and that’s a good quality for high metabolic training).

      Until then, you can do a lot of great body weight training. Search youtube. Here’s something to start you off: 50 Burpees in as little time as you can stand it.

      My strength training has never been more than 30 minutes — lately only about 10 to 15 minutes, if even.


  9. Guy Giard says:

    Hey Johnny

    Love your posts!!! Thanks.
    Actualy my birthday is coming up and I told my wife I wanted Kettlebells!! You can see my posts on getting back into shape in here:

    I found to opposite views on Kettlebells, one is to start with 16 kg, and the other is to start with 4 or 8 kg and do more repetitions. I’ve been doing some weight training if you look around on my blog, and I don’t want to just ‘exercise’, I want to improve, challenge and master the skills… So what do you think? Low weight/high reps or toughing through the heavy wieght until mastery?

    Thanks again Guy

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