Between emails, comments on the articles I write, and various forms of messages on social media (like the AWR Facebook page), I get asked a scary amount of questions on a daily basis.
Most of these questions tend to be about diet and fitness related topics, while others are sometimes about me or the site itself.
Since many of them seem to come up over and over (and over) but don’t actually warrant a full article to answer, I figured it would be a good idea to put together an ongoing collection of these common questions along with my answers to them.
Let the fun begin…
FAQ About Weight Training And Workouts
1. Can you critique my workout routine? Here’s the split I use, the exercises, sets, reps and rest periods. Is this workout good for me?
Sorry, but no. This is unfortunately something I don’t do. It’s nothing personal of course. It’s just way too time consuming to go through every detail of your workout and provide the proper feedback. So, it’s just one of those things I always avoid doing. Sorry.
Of course, this is why I wrote the weight training guide (check it out: The Ultimate Weight Training Workout Routine). Read it. All of your questions will be answered there in more detail than I could ever provide in a quick email or comment response.
It’s also why I wrote The Best Workout Routines. Simply using a proven program from that book would be a fantastic idea.
2. Why do you use Romanian deadlifts instead of conventional deadlifts in The Muscle Building Workout Routine?
The conventional deadlift is by far the hardest exercise to program because A) it trains so much of the lower and upper body (legs, back, etc.) and there’s a ton of overlap to consider and adjust for, and B) it’s more taxing on the body as a whole than any other exercise.
The RDL, on the other hand, is really just a posterior chain exercise (hamstrings, glutes, and some lower back), so it’s much less likely to interfere anywhere else as long as it’s properly programmed. The conventional deadlift is sort of the opposite of this, which is why I tend to go with RDLs by default in most of the muscle building programs I design… especially ones that use an upper/lower split.
I’m certainly not against using the conventional deadlift in hypertrophy oriented routines, though. It’s just that the RDL often fits better and still provides the needed training stimulus. So, I prefer it.
On a related note, if you happen to prefer the SLDL over the RDL, you can do it. It’s a similar-enough movement to the RDL that this substitution should be fine.
3. There’s no direct upper trap work in The Muscle Building Workout Routine. Can I add some shrugs or something?
Yes, you can. This is one of the few additions I’m cool with making to this program. So if you’d like to, I recommend adding 3 sets of 8-10 reps of shrugs to the end of ONE of the upper body workouts (whichever one you prefer). Or, if you’d rather not put it there, another option is to add it to the end of the Lower Body A workout instead (same day as deadlifts).
4. I work out at home and don’t have access to anything but free weights. What should I do when one of your workouts calls for an exercise I’m unable to do?
That’s easy. Just replace the exercise you can’t do with the most similar exercise you can do. To help you do this, here’s a list of the most common exercises that people who train at home will need replacements for along with my suggestions for what those replacements should be.
- Lat Pull-Down
This would ideally be replaced with some form of pull-up or chin-up. However, that assumes you actually have a bar to do them from. If you do, that’s the best option. If you don’t, some type of band pull-down (like this, albeit a little slower) is one possible option to consider. Otherwise, you can just do another rowing movement (e.g., bent over dumbbell rows). However, to place more emphasis on your lats (like lat pull-downs would), keep your elbows tucked in close to your sides and pull the weight more toward your hips/lower stomach rather than your upper stomach/chest.
- Seated Cable Row
This can be replaced with any similar rowing exercise for the back (bent over barbell rows, bent over dumbbell rows, t-bar rows, inverted rows, band rows, etc.).
- Triceps Pushdown
This can be replaced with any other triceps isolation exercise (some kind of band pushdown, an overhead dumbbell extension, etc.).
- Leg Press
This would ideally be replaced with front squats. If preferred, some type of lunge variation or step-up would also be fine (even something like goblet squats could work).
- Leg Curl
Now this one will be a little trickier to replace, but there are a couple of “home-friendly” options. For example: this, this and this.
Some additional advice about training at home can be found here: How To Build Muscle At Home
FAQ About Diet, Nutrition And Supplementation
1. Can you critique my diet? Here are the meals I eat, every single food I eat in each meal, the amount of calories, protein, carbs and fat in each food and each meal total plus my totals for the day. Is this diet good for me?
Sorry, but no. This is another thing I don’t do. It’s nothing personal of course. It’s just too time consuming to go through every detail of your diet and provide the proper feedback. So, it’s just one of those things I always avoid doing. Sorry.
Of course, this is why I wrote the diet guide (check it out: The Best Diet Plan). Read it. All of your questions are answered there in more detail than I could ever provide in a quick email or comment response.
2. What supplements do you take?
- Whey Protein (Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Whey)
- Fish Oil (Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega)
- Creatine (Optimum Nutrition Creatine)
- Vitamin D (NOW Foods Vitamin D3)
3. Is creatine a steroid?
4. [insert 1000 other questions about creatine here]
Read this: The Ultimate Guide To Taking Creatine
5. What do you think about Supplement XYZ? Does it really work? Should I take it? When? How? Why?
Thanks to the fine people over at Examine.com, I no longer feel the need (or really, have the interest) to answer most questions about most supplements.
Instead, it’s much easier for me (and much more beneficial for you) to simply recommend that you either download The Supplement-Goals Reference Guide (ideal for people who want an insane amount of comprehensive data) or their supplement Stack Guides (ideal for people who just want quick and simple instructions, which is probably most people).
Regardless of which you choose, you’ll get the science-backed answer to virtually every question you’ll ever have about any supplement for any goal or purpose. I have both.
FAQ About Me Or The Site
1. Who are you?
I’m the fitness guru Gotham needs me to be.
2. Why is this site called A Workout Routine? I guess it makes sense, but it’s still kinda weird, isn’t it?
The shorter version of the story goes like this. I wanted to write a huge step-by-step mega guide to designing the best weight training routine for your specific goal, experience level, needs and preferences. So, to be both descriptive and cute about it, I decided to put this whole guide to designing “a workout routine” on site called AWorkoutRoutine.com.
See… descriptive and cute. And originally, that guide was all this site was going to be.
But, it ended up being so popular and well received that – combined with the fact that there was still A TON of additional stuff to cover – I just kept going and the site became something much bigger than I had originally intended.
So now the site is a lot more than just a guide to creating “a workout routine,” but the “A Workout Routine” name still stands. So it’s still semi-weird, but at least the story behind it makes sense, right?
3. I sent you an email/left a comment like 8 minutes ago, and you still haven’t replied. What the hell?!?!?
Hi. In case you aren’t aware, I don’t actually sit around responding to comments and emails 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So on occasion, it may take a little bit of time (sometimes hours, sometimes days) before I respond. Relax.
4. I sent you an email/left a comment and you never responded ever! What the hell?!?!?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this, I get a lot of email, messages and comments every day.
And while I promise that I’ll ALWAYS read 100% of your feedback and compliments (and appreciate the hell out of it), and I promise that I really do go out of my way to respond to as many questions as I possibly can, it’s sometimes just not possible for me to reply to all of it. Try as I might, there are only so many hours in a day.
So please understand that if I don’t reply, it’s not because I don’t like you or because I thought your question was stupid. It’s because I just didn’t have the time to.
At this point I’d guess I probably still respond to about 80-90% of it. If you ask me, that seems pretty good and better than most, I’d think.
5. How can I make it more likely that you’ll respond to my email/comment/message?
Nothing special really, although paragraphs and periods certainly help. I’m not saying it needs to look like a homework assignment or anything (and I know English isn’t everyone’s first language), but when I get giant blocks of completely unformatted text, it makes me want to bang my head into a wall.
Or, at the very least, skip it and go on to the next one.
And keeping your question as short and sweet as possible would help too (ie: I probably won’t need your entire life story to answer your question about protein intake or shoulder exercises or whatever).
Oh, and for the love of all humanity, please do not post the same thing in more than one location. Meaning, don’t ask your question in a comment on the site, then in a comment and/or message on the Facebook page, and then in an email to me. That shit is annoying as hell.
6. Do you offer any kind of online coaching service where I could pay you to work with me directly?
Nope, I don’t. But if you’re looking for something like this, I’d highly recommend checking out my buddy JC Deen. He provides some damn fine coaching, and I think you’ll find that we agree on pretty much everything diet/training related. Feel free to check out some of his articles or just go straight to filling out his coaching form. He gets my full approval.
7. I want to send you progress pictures. Can I? And if so, what’s the best way to do it? Your contact form won’t let me attach them.
Yes, you can definitely send me progress pictures. I will never get tired of seeing those.
As for how to do it, you have 3 options. You can fill out the contact form, wait for me to reply, and then attach your pictures to that reply. Or, you can upload them to one of the many free image hosts and then just include the link when filling out the contact form. Or, you can send them to me through a private message on the Facebook page.
8. Hi. My name is [fitness guru you may have heard of] and I wanted to know if you’d be interested in promoting my fat loss/muscle building book, program or product?
9. But I’ll pay you all kinds of money and commissions! This will be a joint venture that will be highly lucrative for both of us! All of the biggest fitness people on the internet are doing it and making tons of money.
10. Would you be interested in selling the site?
See previous answer.
11. I love the site and it has been extremely helpful to me. I’d love to be able to donate some cash your way. Is that cool?
I know this one sounds made up, but I swear I’ve gotten it before… a surprising number of times actually. So first and foremost, thanks. It’s flattering as hell and I’m extremely appreciative of it. Seriously. Thank you.
However, as awesome as it is that anyone would ever make this sort of offer, I just don’t feel comfortable accepting it. I’d MUCH rather you donate that money to your favorite charity instead. If you want some guidance, go with a charity that involves animals. Animals > people any day of the week.
But if you do insist on throwing some support my way, my only suggestion is that you share the site/articles on Facebook, Twitter, etc., link to relevant articles on forums or reddit or wherever (ONLY when and if it makes sense to do so… don’t be an annoying spammer or anything), and just spread the word.
Beyond that, if you’re using any of the info or advice on the site, I’d love to hear how well your progress is going. Your success story is a damn fine way of supporting the site.
12. You mention studies from time to time, but you only cite the specific study you’re referencing maybe 50% of the time. Why don’t you do it 100% of the time?
Honestly, it’s mostly just laziness on my part. If I had to include a reference for every single research-backed thing I write, I’d probably just stop writing. It’s just this extra step to the writing process that I find a bit annoying and makes me feel like I’m doing homework (and as every one of my high school teachers will tell you, I’m not exactly a fan of homework).
But, when the study I’m referencing is a big part of the article, the entire reason for the article, a big part of the point I’m making, or it allows me to provide some legitimate proof about something that I know some people may not believe without showing scientific evidence, then I usually cite the study somewhere in the article. Otherwise, I usually just leave it out.
If there happens to be a specific study I’ve mentioned that you’d like to see, feel free to ask. I have a pretty big collection of stuff (thank you, Evernote) and can usually track it down for ya.
13. When I subscribe via email, are you going to spam me with all kinds of annoying crap every day?
No! I know exactly what you’re referring to and I promise that will never happen. Not even a little. You have my full permission to punch me in the balls if it does.
I know what it’s like to sign up for some diet/fitness email list thing and then get 50 emails a week filled with the most annoying spammy garbage known to man. I know what it’s like to get 20 sales emails every time someone’s buddy puts out a new shitty ebook. It sucks, I know.
That kind of thing will never happen here. I currently send out AT MOST 1 email per week (in fact, it’s usually more like 2 emails per MONTH) letting you know when I’ve written a new article or created some new huge guide for you to check out or something useful like that. Nothing more… ever.
14. I noticed you sometimes say some bad words. For example: shit, shitty, bullshit, horseshit and even the occasional fuck. I don’t like that. I feel your information is great but that type of language hurts your credibility and is very unprofessional. Can you stop doing it?
I’m totally cool with the fact that you may not use words like this, but I sometimes do. I don’t consider them “bad words” per se. I consider them useful and descriptive words just like any other, and sometimes they are the perfect choice for helping me get my point across.
I mean, if I’m writing about some bullshit diet myth, that just seems like a mighty fine time to use the word “bullshit” to describe it. If that makes me seem less credible to you or hurts your feelings or whatever else… I apologize.
You’re more than welcome to never read a single thing I write ever again if it’s that big of an issue for you. I won’t take it personally.
You may also want to cancel your HBO, see only PG rated movies, and cover your ears when talking to 99% of the population.
And also, fuck fuck shit fuck. 😉
FAQ About Miscellaneous Stuff
1. Can you answer my questions about a specific injury issue?
As much as I’d love to help you, and as much as I’ve tried to put some good general injury information out there (like How To Avoid Shoulder Injuries and 17 Ways To Prevent Elbow Pain, How To Maintain Muscle While Injured, The 9 Phases Of Weight Lifting Injuries, etc.), it’s just impossible to diagnose injuries over the internet or give any specific individualized advice based on your description alone.
So no, I can’t tell you what caused it, what’s still causing it, why you’re experiencing pain, what you can do to fix it, if you can/should still be doing certain things, if you can/should avoid certain things, or any of the other 50 injury related questions people ask me.
Can I take my best guess? Yup. Will I be right? Maybe. But “maybe” isn’t something I’m comfortable with when it comes to injuries, so I completely avoid trying.
Plus, while I may know quite a bit about certain injuries (mainly elbows and shoulders), you should keep in mind that I am not a doctor, or a physical therapist, or really anyone truly qualified as an injury expert in the first place.
My only real advice is to go and find someone who fits this description and see them in person.
2. You’ve said this [insert something I’ve said]. But, someone else [insert someone else that, more often than not, is widely regarded as a fucking idiot] said this [insert something they’ve said]. What do you have to say about that?
FAQ About Questions I’ve Already Answered
1. How do I lose fat?
Read this: How To Lose Fat
2. How do I build muscle and lose fat at the same time?
3. Why am I not losing weight?
Read this: Why Am I Not Losing Weight?
4. Am I in starvation mode?
Nope. Read this: Starvation Mode
5. I’m a beginner. When should I move to an intermediate routine?
6. When and how often should I change my routine?
7. What should I do on my rest days? Should I do cardio?
Read this: What Should I Do On My Rest Days?
8. How much cardio should I do? How much is too much?
Read this: How Much Cardio?
9. [some other question that has already been answered on the site]
Pretty pretty please with sugar on top, can you try searching the site before asking me your question? At this point there’s like a 75% chance that you’ll find an article that provides the exact answer you’re looking for. I know this because 75% of my replies are literally just me linking to the relevant article that answers the question that was asked.
The best way to search the site is by going to Google, typing in “site:aworkoutroutine.com” and then the topic you’re searching for. So let’s pretend you had a question about the bench press. You’d go to Google and search for “site:aworkoutroutine.com bench press” (without the quotes).
More Frequently Asked Questions To Come
I plan to keep updating this page whenever another frequently asked question comes to mind, so feel free to check back once in a while for updates.