"Fix my workout" threads - FAQ

Questions that come up all the time here read either "Here's my workout, please comment/fix" or "Can you recommend a workout for me". These are valid questions, and no-one should be discouraged from asking them (of course). However, frequently, people post these questions with a level of detail that makes responding to their queries nearly impossible without 5 or 6 exchanges of further questions - thus providing plenty of time for people to lose interest, start flamewars over some marginally related topic, etc.

Specifically, people will ask about a workout but neglect to list one or more of:
What they hope to achieve from the workout.
What other physical activities are you trying to as well? (work, sport, etc.)
How experienced a lifter they are.
Full details about the performance of the exercises they are doing (usually we'll see a list of exercises, unadorned by set/rep schemes, rest periods, number of workouts per week, etc)
Constraints - e.g. bad back, short time, only a bench and barbell, etc.

I'm not flaming people for asking questions. Without some sort of help it is difficult to understand what sort of information is useful and what is excess verbiage. In my first few months of lifting, I would have stared blankly if you had asked how long my rest periods were ("ummn, I guess until I feel like lifting again - is that important"?).

I propose something along the following as an easily accessible FAQ (of sorts). The idea would be that people could refer to this as a template for making these sort of posts - which would help them clarify their thinking about what they want to do and what they are doing, and help us understand what it is they are doing and want to do.

I don't want to make this too imposing or shrill. Any overly demanding form will simply be ignored. So, it should be made clear that you don't _have_ to fill everything in - just that more information is helpful when trying to work out how to answer questions.

So, here is a first draft. Feel free to edit it about, call me an idiot for missing something or writing unclearly, etc. I'm trying to avoid overly complicated S&C language (might need some work on this), as someone who is a beginner might not instantly comprehend what a "split" or a "rest interval" is.

Also, if you think this is a stupid or pointless idea, please speak up too. I'm not trying to make this a fait accompli by putting up a draft - I've just noticed that without a definite starting point, a lot of good ideas are never fleshed out.

Next post has the draft FAQ.

So, you want help with your workout?

Well, you've come to the right place. Many people on the Strength and Conditioning forum will enjoy giving you advice on new workouts or how to fix problems with your current workouts.

You should provide at least some of the following information when you're asking for help. No-one's going to hurl abuse at you if you don't, but more information will make your request easier to deal with, and get you better reponses.

First question: What do you hope to achieve? If you're doing a workout program now and don't like it, what's not working for you?

There are a lot of different reasons why someone would like to train - gain strength, gain endurance, bulk up, health reasons, get better at some sport, etc. Most people train for more than one of these goals. Generally, the topics discussed here tend to deal with gaining strength, endurance and power for mixed martial arts (if your concern is strictly bodybuilding, then you might do well to ask elsewhere, although many of us don't object to a bit of mass-building from time to time).

Second question: What sort of physical activities do you expect to do aside from strength and conditioning work?

If you play one or more sports, provide details of how hard, long and often you train for these sports and what they are. If you do manual labor, that's also relevant.

Third question: Where are you now in terms of fitness, strength and experience?

The training protocols for a beginner and an experienced weight trainer are usually quite different. Please let us know how much experience you have at lifting weights, in particular - try to provide details of how long you've lifted and at what level of intensity. "2 years, but very irregularly" and "2 years, 4 times a week at a powerlifting club" are very different experience levels.

Optionally: If you feel comfortable, you could include your maximum lifts (either single reps or the "best set you've done so far") and your bodyweight to put things in perspective, but many people are shy about this sort of information. DO NOT go out and try one-rep maxes to fill in this item if you don't know what you're doing, incidentally - the information isn't that important.

Fourth question: What are you doing now?

If you currently have a workout program, this is all useful information:

- How many days a week you work out.
- What exercises you do on these days (indicate whether you do the same thing each workout or a "split", where you do different exercises on different days)
- How many sets of these exercises you do
- How many reps (this could be a range) you do with each set
- How much rest you have between sets.
- How long you've been doing this workout program, and at least some details on what you were doing before that

Fifth question: Are you under constraints in your workouts?

Please mention any injuries/problems (bad back, bad knees, torn ACLs, etc.). Let us know if you have to use a particular type of equipment (say, only a home-gym setup, or a gym that has only machines, etc.). Also, if you can't make it to the gym often, or for very long per workout, or both, let us know that too.

Sixth question: Anything else we should know?

So to sum up the questions (copy and paste this bit for a template that you can type between):


First question: What do you hope to achieve?

Second question: What sort of physical activities do you expect to do aside from strength and conditioning work?

Third question: Where are you now in terms of fitness, strength and experience?

Fourth question: What are you doing now?

Fifth question: Are you under constraints in your workouts?

Sixth question: Anything else we should know?


Arg, the formatting sucks. Excuse the "paragraphs" that are obviously made up of things that are meant to be bullet-point style items.

Very nice ,Geoff! We've talked about doing this for
some time, but ...........

I'll place this post in the archives after other forum
members have a chance to comment/add ideas,





Good Job, Geoff!