The Unwritten Rules of the Gym
The gym is your sanctuary. Treat it right, and you’ll have years of gains karma come your way. Treat it wrong, and you’ll hate it, be hated, and crush your muscle karma.
There is a specific “gym etiquette” that you need to follow. This way, your workouts will go smoothly, you’ll be liked at the gym, and you won’t feel intimidated. Here’s what you need to know:
Rule #1: Put Your Weights Away
Picture this: You’re pressed for time and you want to get in a quick workout. You walk up to the squat rack, and the bar is already loaded with 405lbs. You then need to take off the weight so you can start warming up with the bar; ultimately wasting time out of your short workout. You’re also left with a bad taste in your mouth for whoever did this to you.
Instead, put your weights away after using them. This means unloading the bar and putting the weight plates back in their proper spot. You should also put dumbbells back in their appropriate spots, and any other equipment you’ve used.
Think of it this way: strength and muscle aren’t just built during your set. You will develop a lot of strength by putting your weights away over and over and over and over. Embrace the suck.
Rule #2: Don’t Strike Up a Conversation With Someone Mid-set.
You see someone you know bench pressing. You go over to them and they are benching 225lbs for reps. You ask them what they did over the weekend. They drop the bar on themselves and squash their face in. Now you just killed your friend.
You need to respect that someone is putting all their concentration into their set. Don’t distract them by talking. Wait until they finish their set and gab all you want.
Rule #3: Don’t Walk In Front of Someone While They Are Lifting
Lifting is all about concentration. Personally, I like to look at myself in the mirror while I’m lifting. It helps me watch my form and put focus into lifting the weight properly. If someone walks in front of me, I start to lose focus. Try to walk behind someone if you see they are lifting in front of the mirror. It’s the right thing to do.
Rule #4: When Asked How Many Sets You Have Left, Give an ETA and Offer for Them to Work In
“Hey, Bro. How many sets do you have left with those 30lb dumbbells?”
“Unfortunately I just started, so I have 4 sets left. It’s going to take me about 12 minutes to finish completely. Want to work in with me?”
This is how your conversation should be. Any other answer here is wrong. Be a cool guy, share the equipment with people, be up front so that you don’t waste their time, and hopefully they’ll do the same for you. On top of this, you’ll make friends by sharing equipment, and this will make you enjoy going to the gym.
Rule #5: Don’t Hog Gym Equipment When The Gym Is Busy
Rush hour: the golden 3 hours after work when the gym is packed like sardines.
You finish a long day at work, and head to the gym. You literally run to the squat rack, to find out that some dickhead is doing a giant set of squats, leg press, lunges, and leg extensions. He’s using 4 pieces of equipment, and you see other people waiting for all of his equipment. How do you feel about this guy? You hate him, and you’ll hate him forever.
Now put yourself in his shoes. He’s being hated and waited on by 4 different people. He’s starting to feel stressed because he’s hogging so much equipment. The experience isn’t fun for anyone.
If you’re at the gym during rush hour, just use 1–2 pieces of equipment at once. Cut your losses if you planned on doing anything else, and try to go to the gym at a different time if you plan on doing giant sets. If you end up using a bunch of equipment, at least let people work-in with you (see Rule #4).
Rule #6: Don’t Be the Locker Room Nudist
You know the guy. He’s the one who’s walking around butt-naked in the changeroom with his tanned ass sagging and his balls bouncing around like a beachball at a Nickelback concert.
And I know you hate Nickelback.
Keep a towel wrapped around yourself when going to and from the shower.
Although, there is one exception to this rule. I’ll reveal it to you a bit later.
Rule #7: Wash Your Gym Clothes
The clothes you wear to the gym should be washed after each workout. Even if you don’t sweat, it’s common courtesy to not stink up the gym floor. This leads us to our next rule…
Rule #8: Clean In, Clean Out Policy
You want to keep your gym clean. The best way to do this is to enter the gym with a clean body and exit it with a clean body. This means showering sometime before going to the gym. Now, it’s not a swimming pool, and you don’t have to shower right before your workout, but I think it’s good practice to shower every day in the morning. Go about your day, go to the gym, then shower after your workout. Make sure to apply deodorant before you train.
Rule #9: Don’t Hog The Bench In The Change Room
There’s this old man at my gym. His gym bag is a suitcase. I’m not joking. It’s actually a suitcase (and not a carry-on either, it’s a full sized suitcase). In it, he brings all the bottles of his protein powders and vitamins. He proceeds to keep the suitcase on the bench, not allowing 2–3 people to sit in front of their lockers.
As a rule, you should only take up enough room for 1 person on the bench in front of your locker. This means placing your bag on the floor while you are sitting.
If someone is taking up too much space on the bench in the change room, and turn into the locker room nudist. I purposely get butt naked, and get as close to the person as possible, bending over to dry my feet. This is the only exception to rule #6.
In the end, if you have good gym etiquette, going to the gym will be a positive experience for yourself and others. Be kind of courteous to others, and you’ll get it back.