As the new week begins, you decide to start the day off making good decisions by going to the gym. With a workout song list in place and completed warm-up, you begin your gym session when suddenly you start seeing some odd behavior. You notice the local meathead pushing 315 pounds on the incline bench press while only moving within two inches of motion and another member doing a set of curls in the squat rack. Frustrated? Intimidated? Do not fear. You are not alone. Whether you are a victim of these atrocities or obliviously guilty, there are a few unwritten gym etiquette rules fitness enthusiasts of all shapes and sizes can follow to maximize overall fitness goals while avoiding a negative gym reputation.
- Avoid slamming weights after each set
We get it. You decided to take double helpings of pre-workout and are amped about your gym session. It is slightly understandable if you are lifting dumbbells the size of Thor’s hammer with perfect form, but your ground pound from 20 lb. dumbbells look more childish rather than masculine. After your set, try placing dumbbells or equipment back on the floor (or starting point) slowly while squeezing the working muscle group. This provides what I call a “final negative,” which helps spur muscle growth while showing good gym etiquette.
- Share mirror space
For many, the mirror is used to ensure proper form and/or fuel motivation during workouts, but sharing is caring. A slight step to the right while someone is lifting behind you helps everyone use the mirror for a solid workout while showing etiquette to your fellow lifters.
- Focus on breathing rather than grunting or howling
While battle cries in movies like “300” or “Braveheart” are powerful and motivating scenes, similar man calls aren’t quite as epic at the gym. Rather than shouting or grunting, try focusing on breathing. Breathing out during the “lift” portion of an exercise and in during the “negative,” not only improves safety, but also prevents you from sounding like you’re about to soil yourself after each rep.
- Use exercise machines by its intended purpose
Whether you have worked out for 15 years or are just starting out, nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a sought after machine to see, for example, someone using the only decline bench press bar to deadlift. This can be avoided by using free weights or alternative exercises to work specific muscle groups. This helps to break lifting “plateaus” while ensuring everyone has their moment on popular equipment.
- Wipe off machines after use
If you are sweating during your workout, that’s great news…. just try not to leave a nasty puddle on the machine cushions. Most gyms have multiple spray bottles and paper towels that are only a few steps away. Wiping off excess sweat on machines is good for hygiene and shows you are a beastly gentleman or classy woman.
- Save long text sessions and phone conversations for after the gym
You will reach your fitness goals faster by focusing on your lifts rather than your texts. Long text sessions or phone conversations not only hurt your gym reputation, but also hurt your gains. Turning your phone off (or using it solely for music) during the time of your workout helps to ensure the mind, muscle connection needed to spur maximum muscle growth and/or weight loss.
So there you have it. By following these six unspoken gym etiquette rules, you can boost both your gym reputation and gains. What are some other unspoken rules you think fitness enthusiasts should follow?