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I’ve been writing training programs since 2002, and in that time I’d say I’ve written roughly 10,717 of them.1 Not coincidentally that’s also the total number of times I’ve wanted to toss my face into an ax whenever someone waxes poetic on their 1) killer CrossFit workout and/or 2) keto diet.

We get it, you’re better than us.

Suffice it to say…

…I’ve written a lot of programs, I’ve helped many people from all walks of life get results, yet I still need to often remind myself to stop overcomplicating things.

Seriously, It’s Not Long Division

I think it comes with the territory that we often want to “wow” our clients and athletes with complicated looking programs that require an Enigma machine to decipher.

I mean, which looks more impressive:

A1. Goblet Squat – 3×8
A2. Seated Cable Row – 3×10


A1. 1-Legged Snatch Grip Deadlifts – from deficit (w/ Intraset Tempo: Reps 1-3 = 3s pause at mid-shin, Reps 4-6 = 3s lowering, Reps 7-9 = blindfolded)
A2. Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A and Start

If you’re a fitness professional it’s inevitable you’ll end up mirroring Dug (the dog) from the movie Up. Whenever he sees a squirrel he can’t help himself and becomes distracted.


Similarly, we’re seduced by bright, shiny, and new objects.

Or, in this case…exercises.

I’m no different.

I, too, am an amalgamation of shortcomings that can’t help himself when it comes to cool, zany looking thingamajigs I come across on Instagram.

Recently I was updating a program for a long-standing client of mine. This is someone whom I’ve been writing programs for coming up on four years. Our relationship is at the point where whenever it’s time to write a new program for him I am sometimes flummoxed as to what to do…and I try to get cute.

I feel I have to toss in something new or idiosyncratic.

I feel this is pretty normal behavior and comes with the territory when working with a client/athlete for so long. They’re paying good money to work with us and there’s sometimes I feeling of guilt when we don’t go out of our way to spice things up on the programming front.

We don’t want to come across as too repetitive.

In lieu of this I opted to go with my gut instincts and ended up writing a seemingly “vanilla” program (at least in my eyes) for my client this month.

No tomfoolery or shenanigans.

Wouldn’t you know it…

…at the end of one of our more recent sessions he raved at how awesome the workout was. This was followed by an email the following day raining over me with accolades.

“That session yesterday was really something.”

“Your arms looked jacked BTW.”

Okay, that last one was made up.

Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised if not somewhat vindicated. “Huh,” I thought to myself. “I guess I need to get out of my own way more often and just stop overcomplicating things.”

This is not an indictment on utilizing more advanced or “sexy looking” exercises.

Novelty is fine (every now and again).

However, this recent experience was a stark reminder that most people, most of the time prefer (and even thrive) on simplicity.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. +/- 209. Also, I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They’re just delightful. I don’t know, just thought I’d toss that out there

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