gym etiquette

Proper gym etiquette should be a pretty straightforward thing…

Treat other people in the gym the way you’d like to be treated.

Unfortunately, there’s always a handful of members in every facility (complete newbies and seasoned vets alike) who fail to abide by this basic golden rule.

Either they’re too self absorbed to care, or they’re just flat out unaware of what they’re doing

After seeing virtually every etiquette-violating gym behavior in the book over the past 15+ years of training, here are 10 particularly aggravating ones that stand out and that you should definitely be aware of during your workouts…

#1 – Loudly Grunting On Every Rep.

gym grunt

Sure, if you’re genuinely training to the max to grind out those last couple reps on a squat or deadlift, obviously no one should knock you for that.

However, in no realistic situation is screaming across the gym necessary during a tricep kickback, cable lateral raise or lying leg curl.

In fact, the reality is that most typical weight training exercises done for the purpose of building muscle are actually not that difficult when it all comes down to it.

They’re challenging, yes. They’re uncomfortable, yes. But unless you have an abnormally low tolerance for pain, grunting like a maniac throughout your entire workout only makes you appear as a desperate attention-seeker while at the same time annoying the other members around you.

#2 – Standing Directly In Front Of The Dumbbell Rack.

standing in front of dumbbell rack

When you stand directly in front of the dumbbell rack and perform your entire set there, two things happen…

First off, you force others to have to walk all the way around the benches in order to get through to the other side, which can be quite a pain in the ass if they’re carrying a pair of heavy dumbbells themselves.

Or, you completely prevent others from being able to re-rack their weights or grab the dumbbells they want if you’re blocking the section of the rack they’re trying to access.

The solution here is very simple…

Pick up the pair of dumbbells you want, take a couple steps back, and then perform your set.

That way you leave the path in front of the dumbbell rack clear so that others can get in and out easily.

#3 – Not Putting Your Weights Away.

gym rerack weights

This is probably the one gym etiquette violation that drives me most up the wall.

Don’t get me wrong…

I do recognize that the laws of physics are highly complex and not yet fully understood, but from a basic probability standpoint, weight plates generally do not spontaneously re-rack themselves without human intervention.

So, if you’re someone who blatantly loads up a bar or machine with multiple plates…

Performs your sets…

And then carelessly walks away knowing full and well that someone else is going to have to put your weights away since you couldn’t be bothered…

You’re being an asshole.

If you were capable of putting the weights onto the machine, then you’re fully capable of taking them off when you’re finished. There’s no excuse here.

Re-racking your weights is basic common courtesy, and if you’re not willing to do it, go train at home.

#4 – Smelling Bad.

gym smell guy

If you alone are single handedly able to transform the smell of 2000 square feet of gym space, it’s time to make some changes.

This gym etiquette mistake is a tricky one, since the majority of guys in the gym who stink are completely unaware of it. (And I say “guys” because in 99.9% of cases the perpetrator is male)

And most likely, at least one of you reading this IS the guy at the gym who smells exceptionally bad and just doesn’t realize it.

Listen, I’m sure you’re not a bad person, but if you’re reading this right now and can hear me, please:

  1. Wash your gym clothes
  2. Apply deodorant.

Very simple.

What you do and how bad you smell in the privacy of your own home is your business, but when it comes to a public gym, please try to maintain at least moderately acceptable hygiene for the sake of those around you.

#5 – Leaving A Pile Of Sweat On A Bench Or Machine.

gym sweat

If you tend to sweat a lot during your workouts, that’s obviously natural and not a bad thing.

However, that doesn’t mean others want to bathe in it.

This can easily be taken care of by laying a towel down on the bench or machine you’re using, or by simply wiping down the equipment when you’re finished.

#6 – Sitting On Your Phone In Between Sets.

gym texting

While I do think most people are probably best to just leave their phone in the lockerroom and focus on their workout, there’s of course nothing objectively wrong with using your phone in between sets if you really want to.

What is aggravating though is when you end up getting distracted and proceed to scroll through your text messages, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook feed and Tinder matches for 5 to 10 minutes while someone else is waiting for the piece of equipment you’re sitting on.

So, if you’re going to bring your phone into the weightroom, at least exercise good gym etiquette by being aware of how long you’re spending on it and not allowing your rest periods to drag on for excessive periods of time.

#7 – Claiming Multiple Pieces Of Gym Equipment At Once.

gym supersetting

Regardless of whether supersets/circuit training are a part of your regular training plan, if you’ve decided to workout at a public gym where the equipment is shared amongst all the members, trying to “reserve” multiple pieces of equipment using towels or water bottles, is, for lack of a better term, douchey.

It forces others to wait two or three times as long in order to get to that equipment themselves, not to mention that when you approach a machine with a towel laying on it, you aren’t even sure if anyone else is using it in the first place

You’re then forced to stand around like an idiot waiting for someone who may or may not even be coming back.

If you’re doing this on a smaller scale (maybe using a pair of dumbbells alongside one machine) that’s generally not a problem, but please don’t be the guy or girl who tries to “claim” three different pieces of equipment all on opposite ends of the gym.

#8 – Creating A “Weight Plate Sandwich”.

gym weight rerack

Perhaps this is a bit nit-picky, but as a general rule, it makes the most sense to separate the different sized weight plates onto their own rack.

When four different sized plates are all mish-mashed onto the same rack, it makes it a lot harder for people to access the weights they need, especially if the smaller plates are placed on the inside and are sandwiched between a bunch of 35’s and 45’s.

Things obviously don’t need to be perfect here, but at least make a basic effort to keep the racks somewhat organized so that the larger plates and smaller plates are grouped together for easier access.

#9 – Offering Unsolicited Training Advice.

unsolicited gym advice

If you’re someone with a decent amount of training knowledge who sees a beginner doing something blatantly dangerous that has a high chance of injuring them, offering some cautionary advice is fine as long as you go about it courteously and don’t embarrass them.

Aside from that though, please don’t be the “gym expert” who walks around the weight room dispensing training tips to complete strangers who didn’t ask for it.

The vast majority of people in the gym have no interest in a random person coming up and telling them how to workout, and even if you do have good intentions here, it still makes you come off as a bit of a dick most of the time.

So, unless someone specifically asks you if they’re “squatting low enough” or if their “elbows are too flared” during their bench press, just focus on your own workout and let others focus on theirs.

#10 – Asking “How Many Sets Do You Have Left?”

how many sets do you have left

Some may disagree on whether or not this constitutes bad gym etiquette, but I personally don’t like it when people interrupt me during an exercise to ask how many sets I have left.

When I’m in the middle of a workout, I like to be fully focused on each set and want to take proper rest periods without being pressured by someone constantly lurking behind me.

If you’re asking how many sets I have left because you genuinely want to know if you should wait or go do something else, then that’s fine.

However, in my experience it seems that most people ask the “how many sets do you have left” question moreso as a way of saying “I want to use that equipment, so can you please hurry up”.

Unless someone is taking excessively long rest periods and texting on their phone or talking to a friend, I generally never ask that question and instead just let them finish their exercise without any pressure.

To sum up these 10 gym etiquette mistakes…

  • Don’t unnecessarily grunt and yelp across the gym during your sets.
  • Leave the path in front of the dumbbell rack clear.
  • Put your damn weights away.
  • Don’t smell like a Sasquatch.
  • Clean up your sweat.
  • Don’t spend excessive periods of time on your phone.
  • Stop trying to “claim” multiple pieces of equipment at the same time.
  • Re-rack the weight plates evenly.
  • Don’t offer unsolicited training advice to other members.
  • Unless someone is being unreasonable, let them finish their exercise without interrupting to ask how many sets they have left unless you genuinely want to know the answer.

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