Between emails, comments, and messages on social media, 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 this website 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
- Can you look over my workout routine and tell me if it’s good?
- Why do you use Romanian deadlifts instead of conventional deadlifts in The Muscle Building Workout Routine?
- There’s no direct upper trap work in The Muscle Building Workout Routine. Can I add some shrugs or something?
- There’s no direct rear delt work in The Muscle Building Workout Routine. Can I add some?
- I can’t do deadlifts. What should I do instead?
- 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?
- How long should I use your beginner workout before moving to an intermediate workout?
FAQ About Diet, Nutrition And Supplementation
- Can you look over my diet plan and tell me if it’s good?
- What supplements do you take?
- Is creatine a steroid?
- [insert 1000 other questions about creatine here]
- What do you think about Supplement XYZ? Does it really work? Should I take it? When? How? Why?
FAQ About Me And This Website
- Who are you?
- Why is this site called “A Workout Routine”? I guess it makes sense, but it’s still kinda weird, isn’t it?
- I sent you an email/message/left a comment like 8 minutes ago, and you still haven’t replied. What the hell?!?!?
- I sent you an email/message/left a comment and you never responded ever! What the hell?!?!?
- How can I make it more likely that you’ll respond to my email/comment/message?
- Do you offer any kind of online coaching service where I could pay you to work with me directly?
- 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.
- Do you accept guest posts? I’d love to write an article for you!
- 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?
- 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.
- Would you be interested in selling the site?
- 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?
- When I subscribe via email, are you going to spam me with all kinds of annoying crap every day?
- 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?
- Can you answer my questions about a specific injury issue?
- 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 joke by the scientific community] said this [insert something they’ve said]. What do you have to say about that?
Can you look over my workout routine and tell me if it’s good?
I have good news and bad news about this question.
The bad news is that going through every detail of your workout and providing the proper feedback is something that would require a lot more than a quick email reply. But I have some good news.
So, you can tell us what your goals are, give us the details of the workout routine you’re using (the schedule, exercises, sets, reps, rest periods, etc.), and we will give you a full personalized evaluation. We’ll tell you what’s good, what’s bad, and what adjustments you should make to increase its effectiveness as much as possible.
Why do you use Romanian deadlifts instead of conventional deadlifts in The Muscle Building Workout Routine?
The conventional deadlift is one of the hardest exercises to program because A) it trains so much of the lower and upper body (legs, back, etc.), so 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.
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.
But if you really wanted to do conventional deadlifts in this routine, doing it in place of RDLs is usually a good option to try.
There’s no direct upper trap work in The Muscle Building Workout Routine. Can I add some shrugs or something?
Yes, you can. If needed or preferred, you can add 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).
There’s no direct rear delt work in The Muscle Building Workout Routine. Can I add some?
Yes, you can. 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps of one rear delt exercise (e.g. face pulls, or rear delt raises, or reverse pec deck, or something similar) can be added to the end of one or both upper body workouts.
I can’t do deadlifts. What should I do instead?
If you can’t deadlift due to some type of injury, lack of equipment, or because you just don’t like deadlifts, then the best replacement options are typically other deadlift variations (Romanian deadlift, trap bar deadflift, sumo deadlift, etc.) and exercises that mimic a similar movement pattern (which can sometimes be similarly problematic if there’s an injury issue involved).
For example, hyperextensions are good (the way it’s shown here), as are cable pull-throughs (like this). If neither option is doable, leg curls and/or barbell hip thrusts would be the next best choices to consider.
How long should I use your beginner workout before moving to an intermediate workout?
For as long as it works.
Or until you get so bored with it that it’s affecting your consistency and adherence.
Whichever happens first.
So, if progress begins to stall on most/all of the major exercises and strength gains stop happening, you can either:
- Move to an intermediate workout at that point. Or…
- Try deloading the stalled exercises and see if that gets progress happening again. If it does, awesome. Stick with it for as long as it continues to work and then move to an intermediate routine after that. If not, then make the switch to an intermediate workout.
And if the boredom/adherence issue happens first, then move to an intermediate workout right then and there.
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.
Can you look over my diet plan and tell me if it’s good?
I have good news and bad news about this question.
The bad news is that going through every detail of your diet and providing the proper feedback is something that would require a lot more than a quick email reply.
So, you can tell us what your goals are, give us the details of the diet plan you’re using (calorie intake, protein intake, carb intake, fat intake, meal frequency, food choices, etc.), and we will give you a full personalized evaluation. We’ll tell you what’s good, what’s bad, and what to adjustment to make it as effective and enjoyable for you as much as possible.
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)
Is creatine a steroid?
[insert 1000 other questions about creatine here]
Read this: The Ultimate Guide To Taking Creatine
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.
Who are you?
I’m the fitness guru Gotham needs me to be.
But seriously, my name is Tim. You can learn more about me and my background here.
Why is this site called “A Workout Routine”? I guess it makes sense, but it’s still kinda weird, isn’t it?
Yup. The shorter version of the story goes like this…
Many years ago, 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 PlanBWorkouts.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?
I sent you an email/message/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 emails, comments, and messages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Nor do I have some useless support team responding to my emails for me. So, on occasion, it may take a little bit of time (sometimes hours, sometimes days) before I respond.
I sent you an email/message/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.
How can I make it more likely that you’ll respond to my email/comment/message?
Well, if you want to guarantee that I respond, all you have to do is join one of my paid programs and ask your question there. We respond to 100% of the questions people ask. Literally 100%.
But if you just want to make it more likely that I respond to an email, I can tell you that 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 (i.e. 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, please don’t email me your question, then message me the same question on Facebook, then again on Instagram, then again on Twitter, then again in the comments of something I posted. That shit gets annoying really fast. 🙂
Do you offer any kind of online coaching service where I could pay you to work with me directly?
Yes I do.
If you’re interested, you can learn all about it right here: My programs
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.
Absolutely! 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 photos 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 Facebook or Instagram.
Do you accept guest posts? I’d love to write an article for you!
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?
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.
Would you be interested in selling the site?
See previous answer.
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 it’s a real thing people really ask me. So, first and foremost, thank you. 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.
But if you do insist on throwing some support my way, my only suggestion is that you share the site/articles on social media, link to relevant articles on forums or reddit or wherever you happen to hang out online (ONLY when and if it makes sense to do so… don’t be an annoying spammer or anything), and just spread the word.
And obviously if I happen to come out with some kind of product of my own (like Superior Fat Loss or Superior Muscle Growth), you’re welcome to buy it.
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 fantastic way of supporting the site.
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. And 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 promise.
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. 😉
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 involving 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.
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 joke by the scientific community] said this [insert something they’ve said]. What do you have to say about that?
Bonus Lightning Round: FAQ About Questions I’ve Already Answered
How do I lose fat?
Read this: How To Lose Fat
How do I build muscle and lose fat at the same time?
Read this: How To Build Muscle And Lose Fat At The Same Time
Why am I not losing weight?
Read this: Why Am I Not Losing Weight?
Am I in starvation mode?
Nope. Read this: Starvation Mode
Did I damage or break my metabolism?
Nope. Read this: Metabolic Damage
I’m a beginner. When should I move to an intermediate routine?
Read this: When Should A Beginner Move To An Intermediate Routine?
When and how often should I change my routine?
Read this: When, Why And How Often Should I Change My Routine
What should I do on my rest days? Should I do cardio?
Read this: What Should I Do On My Rest Days?
How much cardio should I do? How much is too much?
Read this: How Much Cardio?
[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 an 80% chance that you’ll find an article that provides the exact answer you’re looking for. I know this because 80% 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:planbworkouts.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:planbworkouts.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.
Need Help With Your Diet And Workout?
Don’t waste another minute of your time searching for what to do. I’ve already done the research for you and created step-by-step plans that work. Select your goal below…
- I Want To Build Muscle
If you want to build lean muscle without gaining excess body fat, spending all of your time in the gym, using a diet or workout that isn’t customized to you, or doing myth-based nonsense that only works for people with amazing genetics, check out: Superior Muscle Growth
- I Want To Lose Fat
If you want to lose body fat without losing muscle, feeling hungry all the time, using stupid restrictive diets, doing 100 hours of cardio, or struggling with plateaus, metabolic slowdown, and everything else that sucks about getting lean, check out: Superior Fat Loss