Stay humble and use common sense when you’re trying to follow gym etiquette, that’s my personal rule. This guy however, had absolutely none.
I usually don’t whine about bad gym etiquette. In fact, most of the time I get a good laugh out of it. This time though, I was blown away by the whole situation and felt the need to share this with you. My hope, is to prevent things like this from happening and also to find a few ways to work around these issues – and of course get a laugh at it too 🙂
So a few weeks ago we published a video on the Body Spartan YouTube Page of a pretty epic deadlifting session. I had hand picked four guys from my local gym that I noticed were dedicated and always lifting hard. We’ve been training together now since before the launch of Body Spartan and the gains these guys have made have been incredible. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you are dedicated.
That being said, we were utilizing the squat cage and the squat rack out of courtesy to the other members of the gym. This area, in my gym at least, is the dedicated power lifting area and even though there are no signs that say so, it is generally understood by all of the members. By lifting here, we were keeping ourselves out of the way of other members that wanted to use the dumbbells, bench press, and anything else that would require the use of the main mirrors. It’s simply common courtesy to set up where we did.
We were about 15 minutes into our session and I’m setting up for a good pull with over 500lbs on the bar when a guy comes over and asks me (as I’m chalking up, mind you), “Hey man, can I use the rack?”. He was referring to the squat rack that was directly in front of where I had set up the bar for the deadlift. If we had said yes, my nose would have been up his butt on every single lift. Keep in mind there were five or six of us trading off with two bars so the downtime in between sets was very minimal.
We were all taken off guard by his request but Rob jumps in and politely says, “Ya know man, I think that would be kind of awkward and it would really distract us. We’re pulling some heavy weight here.”
The guy completely blows off Rob’s statement and says, “I know what you guys are doing and I would just be in the rack. I wouldn’t be in your way.”
So I jump in and say, “Bro, I really don’t think that would work. We’re set up right in front of you and it’s super distracting.”
“Yeah but can I use the rack.”
I was dumbfounded by his lack of comprehension of what was going on so I ended it right there. In full T-Reks promo voice I looked him dead in the eyes and said,
“This is me politely saying no. Get it?”
I hate being rude but the guy was just not taking no for an answer. After I cut the two second promo on him he sat down on a bench no more than four feet from us and pouted with his headphones on for the next 20 minutes until we were done. You can see him in the video below at 18 seconds in when 20-year old Sean Huot is setting up for his lift:
What was he wanting the squat rack for?
When the kid finally got to use the rack, all he did were barbell shoulder presses. Internally, my initial reaction was to go nuts on him but a split second later I realized that he wasn’t as seasoned in the gym as we were.
One of the elements of weight lifting and bodybuilding that I preach is to vary your routine every few weeks. This is so that you are continuously shocking your muscles. In the case of our friend that wanted nothing more than to do barbell shoulder presses, there were several alternatives that he could have substituted instead of burning 20 minutes of his time sitting and pouting. Here’s a list:
- Standing barbell press without the assistance of the squat rack. AKA: Clean and press. Drop the weight, do a power or hang clean to get the bar to your starting shoulder press position, then knock out your shoulder press reps.
- Dumbbell shoulder press. This exercise specifically targets the front and side delts and doesn’t allow for the recruitment of any other muscles to assist the lift. It’s much more intense of a burn than the compound barbell shoulder press and is a great substitute if no barbells are available.
- Hammer strength should press. Although Hammer Strength machines are just that, machines, they have a fantastic range of motion that usually create an intense pump and really work the target muscle group.
So what’s the moral of this gym etiquette story?
To sum it up, if everyone uses common sense and takes a step back from their specific needs or situation, I think everyone can successfully cohabitate at the gym without issues. Here’s a few guidelines:
- If someone is using a machine or device you would like to use, politely ask how many sets they have left. If it’s going to be a while until they are done, assess your target muscle group and find a substitute.
- Rather than becoming irritated that someone is using the machine or bench you want to use, keep in mind we are all sharing and there is limited availability. It helps to change your frame of mind and use it as an opportunity to shock the muscle group with a different exercise.
- If someone is using a bench near the dumbbell racks, you can always politely ask if you can work in between his or her sets. If you adjust the bench height just be sure to return it to the position it was at before. Also remember to use a towel or wipe off your sweat. #AintNobodyGotTimeForThat
- When someone allows you to work in with them on a cable set or a machine, be sure when your set is over to set the weight on the stack to whatever the other person was using before. If you’ve changed out the bar or handle to a different one, quickly replace it with the one the other person was using.
Hopefully these tips will help everyone with their gym etiquette. The goal is to have a positive and encouraging atmosphere to work out in so that we can all achieve our fitness and weight lifting goals.