A Simple Workout Protocol for Days You Have No Idea What to Do

Bloom to Fit Workout TemplateEver find yourself motivated to work out, but have absolutely no clue what to do?

I’m sure it happens quite a bit. And while it’s good to have your full workout routine laid out (on paper) before slipping on your Nikes, things don’t always happen like they’re supposed to.

Sometimes motivation shows up when we least expect it. It comes in random bursts at times that are difficult to predict. What is important is that we are always ready to harness it.

For these situations, it is good to have a workout protocol or template to fall back on – a simple and flexible workout “blueprint” of sorts that we can easily modify on the spot without much thought using what we can from our surroundings. 

In today’s post, I want to show you a simple  workout protocol that you can fall back on whenever you find yourself dressed up and ready to go, but completely unsure of what to do.

Let’s begin.

Keep Things Simple, Stupid

Simplicity is the absolute key.

We want to be able to put things together in less than 60 seconds. Any more time than that and motivation starts to dwindle.

The simpler something is, the more likely we are going to a) remember it, b) be able to modify it on the fly, and c) stay consistent with it.

That is why the workout template I am about to show you couldn’t be any simpler.

Just by following three simple steps and being aware of your surroundings, you will be able to put together an incredibly challenging workout in anywhere seconds.

The Power of AMRAP

AMRAP stands for As Many Repetitions as Possible

While the name pretty much gives it away, let me show you just how easy it is to put together. We are going to use a simple three step process to make this work.

Step 1: Pick One Exercise. 

This is the first and most important step.

We don’t want to pick just any exercise. The goal is to pick a full-body, compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups. An exercise that is both intense and metabolically challenging. We want an exercise that makes the body work as a unit. 

Let your surroundings determine what it is you are going to do. If you find yourself at home in the living room with two resistance bands, use them. An exercise like a squat to push-press would work great. If you accidentally stumbled into a gym, take advantage of a barbell and/or a nice set of dumbbells and pick an exercise that utilizes those. Squats or deadlifts would be ideal. If you’re in the park and you suddenly get the urge, use the bars at the playground to do some pull-ups or use the big open field to do some burpees.

It is very important to learn to work with what you have.

To further minimize your thinking time, I suggest you prepare a list of go-to exercises you can always fall back on. Pick two or three exercises for each possible method of training and have them with you. This list of exercises will change as you go, but the idea is to be able to make the exercise selection process fast and efficient.

Once you have an exercise selected, you want to…

Step 2: Set a Time Period. 

The goal is to keep things short and intense. We want to pack in as much quality work as we can in the time that we have. 

10 to 15 minutes is typically ideal, but even 5 minutes can get the job done if the right exercise is selected. 

This means that all your “I don’t have time” excuses can go out the window. Everybody has five minutes to spare.

Once your time is set, all you have to do is…

Step 3: Start the Clock. 

You’ll need a timer to make this work. Use a stopwatch or an application on your smartphone (Gym Boss is a good one) and press that big shiny GO button to start the timer.

Your objective with this workout protocol is simple: complete as many quality repetitions of your chosen exercise in the time period you have set. When the timer goes off, you’re done.

You can take breaks as often as you wish or need throughout the set, but the clock does not stop until the time is up.

Important note: whenever we try to squeeze in as many repetitions as possible in a short amount of time, there is risk of sacrificing proper form to get a few extra reps in. This can be dangerous, particularly as you start to fatigue near the end of your set. Never sacrifice form for time. Make sure that every repetition you do, from start to finish, is executed with faultless technique. 

Let’s take a look at an example to see how this would look.

Let’s say you just got off work and you’re feeling good. You have half an hour to spare before you need to be home for dinner. You stop by at the gym, warm up a little bit to get the blood flowing, and do some mobility exercises to get the joints loosened up. Now what?

On the rack along the wall, you spot a nice rustic kettlebell looking very lonely. You approach it, introduce yourself, and decide that you’re going to do some kettlebell swings. You grab your timer, set it to 12 minutes, and start swinging your heart out. You want to hit as many quality swings as you can in those 12 minutes.

While that clock is running, you are focused. You’re in a zone. No other thoughts cross your mind. The next 12 minutes are all about you and your swings.

Nothing else matters.

You bust your balls for 12 minutes, jot down how many repetitions you managed to get, stretch, go home, and enjoy that delicious dinner.

That’s a job well done, my friend.

See how simple that was? Now it’s your turn. Here’s what I want to know…

How are you going to make use of this workout protocol this week? What exercise are you going to choose? Share your answers in the comment section below!

17 thoughts on “A Simple Workout Protocol for Days You Have No Idea What to Do”

  1. Thank you Srdjan for this post! It was very inspiring and really what I needed to read concerning my work out regimen. I am at a point where I am feeling kinda bored with my current routine and I will utilize this kind of work out whenever I feel I need a change to get me going again. You reminded me that often times less really is more and that we don’ t need to spend a lot of time working out.
    Well done my friend! keep up with the great work!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Nicole!
      Using a protocol like this is definitely a good way to keep things fresh. You are really only limited by your imagination. Cheers!

  2. Thanks for this Srdjan, I’m on ‘vacation’ for a month and away from my regular routine. Thought I’d take a few days off from training but that was a really bad idea. Picked up my jump rope this morning for an AMRAP session, then made the most of the hotel gym. Needed to read your post to get my mind back in place! Thanks!

    1. Nicely done Denise! ‘Vacation’ is a great example of where AMRAP can be used effectively – you have to know how to use what’s in your surroundings.

      PS – taking a few days off isn’t always a bad idea 🙂

  3. Nice article, I completely agree with keeping it simple.
    I’ve one slight change that might help out people that (like me) always like to listen to music.
    Using a stopwatch is great for timing things, but when you’re listening to music you may miss the ‘buzzer'(especially if you’re rocking out in earphones).
    Similarly, you can get distracted looking at the clock to see how long it takes( potentially compromising form, or sacrificing a half rep!).

    To allow me to do rounds without even needing a timer i have 2 suggestions.
    a) make a playlist with only 3 minute songs, or only 5 minute songs, obviously this is dependent on how many 3/5/22 minute songs you have.
    b) use a program like audacity(it’s free) to overlay buzzer sounds over some other music.
    That way you just work-work-work until the buzzer sounds, or the track ends.

    For example: i have a playlist made up entirely of 4 minute tracks, each one starts with a 1 minute rest, and then a 3 minute ‘work’ section, basically the track starts, a low horn sounds, 1 minute later the ‘start horn sounds, and 3 minutes later the ‘stop buzzer sounds.
    This way i don;t need to worry about checking watches or missing a buzzer. Works a charm for me, and saves me carrying round an extra it of kit…

    Obviously this only works if you know what length of rounds you are going to be training, but it makes life super-simple.

    Rambled a bit there, but hopefully I made sense…

    1. I really like that idea Chris. I guess if you have trouble finding songs of the proper length, you can always use a piece of audio editing software to cut off any song to the length you need (and add your buzzers/horns in as well). I might try this. Thanks for the idea!

  4. Thank you Srdjan for a great article! I am a big fan of AMRAP workouts. I figure I can do just about anything in 10-15 minutes. I downloaded the Gym Boss app – thanks – it will come in very handy.
    Keep the articles and motivation coming!

  5. Hi Srdjan,
    Inspired by your article, I did a workout that didn’t follow your protocol above, but I found the idea through something you referenced in one of your other posts. It is called a ladder workout, and I tried it via pullups down in the gym at work this afternoon. Normally, I do a workout where the max # I normally do is 8×10=80 pullups, and this workout is a circuit where I have some leg exercises in between it set. So I did 13 “ladders” if I actually did this right. I tried to follow the protocol of “not failing”, which was actually pretty hard since I am not used to working out this way.
    Ladder 1: 1,2,3,4,5, 6, 4 (failed trying to get to seven, but didn’t actually “fail” on 4)
    Ladder 2: 1,2,3,4,5
    Ladder 3: 1,2,3,4
    Ladder 4: 1,2,3,4
    Ladder 5: 1,2,3
    Ladder 6: 1,2,3,4
    Ladder 7: 1,2,3
    Ladder 8: 1,2,3
    Ladder 9: 1,2
    Ladder 10: 1,2
    Ladder 11: 1,2
    Ladder 12: 1,2
    Ladder 13: 1
    If I added right, I believe this worked out to 98 pullups. I was very strict on form, but I didn’t expect that number when I completed. Thanks again for all of the great info on your blog. Michael

    1. Nicely done Michael. Training to “no failure” does take a bit of getting used to, but it’s incredibly effective for building strength.

      How much did you rest between each set/rung of ladder?

      1. pretty short rest….the small sets I went again almost right away (5-10 seconds probably)…..the longer ones I tried to rest somewhere around how long it took to do the set..

  6. Hey Srdjan!

    I’ve been following your blog (ok well not religously) ever since I watched your jump rope videos. Anyway, I’ve started going to the gym just last week and I have tried a few routines that might work for me. In the end, I decided to stick with the Push/Pull Routine. Any thoughts about this kind of workout?

    My schedule goes like this:

    Day 1: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    Day 2: Legs
    Day 3: Cardio/Off
    Day 4: Pull (Back, Biceps)
    Day 5: Cardio/Off
    Day 6: Push
    Day 7: Legs

    And so on…

    I pretty much incorporate most of the gym equipments with my routine.

    So yea I just need to know if this kind of workout is worth doing compared to the usual “Split”. I’m a total beginner so not really sure about everything.

    Hope to hear from you.


    1. Hey Jo, before you can establish a routine you need to know what it is that you’re after. What is your goal?

      PS – wait, why are you not following my blog religiously? 🙂

  7. Hi Srdjan and others!

    Have anyone of you read the book called Mister Tough?
    My good friend has it. It’s quite hilarious.
    Some of the Bodyweight Exercises are still used or coming back
    – even by Mark Lauren and Joshua Clark.

    Product Details
    Mister Tough
    Hardcover: 224 pages
    Publisher: Wolfe (1969)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 072340125X
    ISBN-13: 978-0723401254

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