Saturday was cold and rainy. So I spent it watching my chubby kid terrorize the bulldogs in his walker while a retrospective about the life of Anthony Bourdain played in the background.

Despite being a celebrity chef, Bourdain had grown cynical of fine dining and the explosion of pretentious foodie culture, especially Instagram-driven “food porn.”

He now saw food like he once did, as a “normal person.” If something tasted good and made you feel good, then it was good. Who cares what some stuck up food blogger says?

In effect, he’d come full circle. A sign of a life well travelled and well lived. And in Bourdain’s case, way too short.

He also started championing an honest and simple approach to cooking, saying the best food didn’t need much fussing.

Start with the very best ingredients, prepare them expertly and simply, and then let ’em be. Let the food “speak.”

If you’ve ever had an amazing steak or truly exceptional sushi then you were fed by a chef who also embraces quality & simplicity.

The very best sushi I’ve ever had was beside the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, at about 8am.

It was ridiculously simple. Just fish. I don’t even recall a side of rice. But an expert sushi chef was behind the knife and the fish was swimming an hour ago. It would be a travesty to douse it in soy sauce or some bizarre mango-mayo concoction you might get subjected to at a strip mall sushi joint.


Somehow, as the years have come and gone, I’ve come to adopt a similar philosophy with training. Take the very best exercises FOR YOU and execute them perfectly (meaning: with focus, intention, and progression).

Plant your flag there and work it — for years. Let the staples “speak.” Because they’re what accounts for around 80% of your training success.

Program design, periodization, the boondoggle of (way too much) assistance work, RPE, RIR, MRV, WTF, etc? That stuff all CAN matter, even matter bigly — but only if the foundation of elegant simplicity remains priority number one.

Or you can just whip off a bunch of exercises and training techniques like you were ordering sushi from a take-out joint in the back of a gas station.

Don’t forget extra mango-mayo sauce. You’ll need it.

For a BIG picture approach to muscle (if that’s your thing), click here.