Gymetiquette for New Year's Resolutionists – A guide to effective and considerate gym workouts
Hello fellow Steemiacs,
I wish you all a Happy New Year!
If one of your new year's resolutions was to sign up to a gym and get that rocking body that you always wanted, this post is for you! Be free to read on if you already are hitting the gym, as well. Maybe I can inspire some thoughts.
The first time you step into a weight room, you might be intimidated by all those regulars. They seem to have it already figured out, pumping that iron and showing off their bulging biceps. Don't be shy, everyone has started out somewhere as a complete newbie.
So, you take up a barbell for the first time to do your baby squats or everyone's (except me, haha) most frequented exercise – the bench press. Well done! Keep that up for a few months while perfecting your form and gradually increasing weights and reap the benefits of newbie gains!
Aside from your workout regimen, one important aspect of training will be: how do you behave in the gym? Do you want to have the approval of the more experienced, serious lifters and maybe snatch some good advice? Do you want to train in a friendly, easy-going and orderly atmosphere? Do you want to keep motivated and make the most of your workouts? Then, consider the following points of essential gym etiquette:
- Sometimes, the gym is full, all equipment is occupied, and you are using the squat rack or a bench to do your sets. Someone asks how many sets you have left. You actually just started or are right in the middle. Be kind and offer to work in during your rest periods! Usually, it's not a big deal to change the weight plates between your sets. You might even have a nice chat to bridge the resting time.
- Ask people if they need the weight plates that happen to be gathered around them before you take them for yourself. Really not big of a deal. Just a small question. It might be that the person just foraged for that plate to use it for the next set and placed it neatly next to him/her. Not for you to just take it and go away with it. Don't be disrespectful. Usually, there are enough weight plates in the gym. In worst case, just walk two meters more.
Are these plates lying there by chance?
- After you are done with your sets, put the weight plates and dumbbells, that you used, back onto the weight racks. Don't leave them on the barbell or lying around somewhere. This is part of your workout routine. Order and discipline are key to success and consistent results. There is no excuse.
What it ideally should look like, when people are done with their sets.
Comment 1: I know, many people will say: “But, the person before me left his weights on the barbell. Why should I clean up, then?” You know what? That person was a jerk. Do you want to be one? Be the light amidst the darkness ;-)
Comment 2: This might seem like a hen and egg problem. But it's not. It is clear that the first day the gym has opened, the weight plates were neatly stacked on their weight racks and ordered according to their respective weights. Keep the order up, even if you have to clean up after someone. The more people adapt this behaviour, the more common it will become. Just imagine you leave your six 45lbs plates on the barbell. Afterwards, a girl who wants to lift as well, but needs light weights, or hell, some sane person like me who first warms up with an empty barbell, has to first take all that heavy machinery down. Well, good for our gains, but really bad for yours.
Another bonus point that you would get from me, is if you stack the weight plates in such a way that the lighter plates are always in front of the heavier ones. Sometimes, people put the 5lbs plates behind a pile of 45 lbs plates. Why. One super bonus point for putting the heavy plates on the lower rack pins and the light plates on the upper pins.
You might have sensed, I have some stacked up anger on this issue here. I really do. Those days when I really don't feel motivated to train, the last thing I want to do is to clean up after someone's mess and search the whole gym for some weight plates that someone left in a random place.
- Respect other's space. When someone is deadlifting or squatting or doing any other heavy lift, try not to stand just in front, behind, or one foot next to them, or just carelessly walk by, whenever avoidable.
If you've ever done a heavy set, you would know that you need all the concentration and focus you can summon. Any hovering presence or movement in your close field of vision is distracting af.
Same goes for body weight exercises. When someone chose a space to do his stuff (pushups, planching, handstands), try to respect the space and don't stand half a foot next to them doing biceps curls because this is the only place where you can catch a glimpse of your contracting muscles in a mirroring window.
I don't know why some guys are so obsessed with mirrors. Seriously, I can understand insisting on using a mirror when you are trying to figure out or correct your exercise form. That becomes usually unnecessary after a few sessions. After a while, you should know what correct execution of an exercise feels like in your joints and muscles. Making sure that your form does not deteriorate in the long term, it is of course OK to do a mirror check once in a while. Getting into someone's space however, just to see yourself pumping your biceps in the mirror, is simply ridiculous.
- This is my personal rage point: Whenever possible, take weight plates or dumbbells down carefully and put them on the weight pins or on the floor for further usage. Don't just let weights fall and bang on the floor. This is usually practiced by extremely cocky people who want to show off how strong and careless they are. Jeez, if you are that strong, then there is no problem for you to take down the weight in a controlled manner, right? Don't be a wuss. Repeated banging makes the rubber edge of the plates come off. Careless damaging of the gym's equipment is simply not acceptable.
A case for deadlifts: I can understand letting the weight fall close to 1RepMax attempts. Or if you are lucky, to be able to use bumper plates for olympic lifts: Sure. But don't let the barbell bang on the floor with all its weight each time you are doing your 1plate deadlift.
Did you know that the eccentric part of the movement (i.e.letting down the barbell in a controlled fashion) is more anabolic than the concentric one? Why not reaping the benefits of it, while at the same time reducing noise levels ;-)
- Biceps curls in the squat rack. Please don't. If there is scarcity of equipment, don't perform exercises in a dedicated piece of equipment that you could do anywhere else. Same applies to rows. Just deadlift that shit and work from there.
- Don't grunt when unnecessary. Some people (not only guys) like to grunt on each rep of their 15 rep sets to show off what kind of beasts they are. It is both distressing and ridiculous to surrounding trainees. In case you are doing a maximum effort set, you are absolutely free to grunt on those last, grinding reps. If that helps you to exert additional abdominal force and mental focus, absolutely use your breathing apparatus for support.
Approaching this weight, it's allowed to grunt and let the weight fall down in a less controlled manner.
- Do not fart. Farting is mean. Try not to eat foods that cause flatulence before training. It's disturbing for yourself and for the people around you. If you don't know which foods cause flatulence in you, try to educate yourself and find it out. Could be anything from lactose, fructose, sorbitol, gluten, FODMAPs or some other food ingredients causing your intolerance.
Small anecdote: There was a guy coming out of the restroom walking into the body weight training area. He passed me and I smelled a cloud of backdoors odor. The smell passed. Good... or not quite yet, because he went on and started skipping rope; a steel rope, really fast. Like a ventilator, he distributed his fragrance around the workout space, for everyone else to rejoice in the varieties of sensory inputs you are able to receive while you are trying to hold a back lever.
And now, go for the workout already!
Image sources: Pixabay, except (7): jack3d.org and (9): 4chan
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