#1 Not cleaning up after your-sweat
And the very first gym foul is leaving the equipment without wiping, especially if you’re sweaty.
I’ve seen some pretty disgusting things left on benches, mats, and machines that nobody should have to clean up except the person responsible for it.
Personally, I’m not the biggest germaphobe. But studies show us that some pieces of gym equipment routinely have more species of bacteria on them than toilet handles. (1)
So even if you have a great immune system, others at the gym might not. And especially with everything currently going on, it’s a good idea to wipe down your equipment when you’re done using it.
This is really easy to do as most gyms nowadays have complimentary sanitizing spray and paper towels that you can use to clean up after yourself.
Almost everyone I know would mind sweat stains all over the equipment. So, try to leave the equipment that you use in a condition that you wouldn’t mind finding it.
Ego lifting is common, specifically for young people and beginners. That’s because many times they feel like they have to prove themselves or disguise their beginner stage.
This is especially true if they’re lifting with friends. They assume that lifting a lot of weight will impress others.
But guess what – nobody cares.
Almost everyone is too busy minding their own business working on their own fitness goals.
When you lift a weight that’s just too heavy for you to use with good form or a full range of motion, well the benefits of that exercise quickly diminish.
Performing quarter reps, bouncing the bar off your chest, or rounding your back are all ways to end up with an injury, rather than progressing.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m all for lifting heavy weights. I’m a big believer that you have to push yourself.
And research shows that we need progressive overload to build more muscle and strength from our workouts.
But if your form starts to become compromised or you start cheating excessively to complete your reps, you need to lower the weight to a level that’s still challenging but allows you to perform the exercise correctly. Then work up from there.
Here’s a general tip if you’re a beginner or even intermediate, and you’re not training to be a powerlifter.
There’s pretty much no reason for you to do 1-rep max-outs or even aiming for 2 reps.
These lower-rep ranges are usually the ones that lead to ego lifting.
Even for advanced, experienced lifters, really low rep ranges carry a higher risk of injury especially if something goes wrong with your form.
#3 Do embrace grunting. Don’t overdo it
Believe it or not, grunting might help improve your workout.
A study shows that vocalized exhalation (grunting) increased grip strength by 25%, as opposed to passive breathing. (2)
Now just because your grip strength increases, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to lift more weight or lift a weight for more reps.
However, I’m sure grunting does help some people, whether it’s a physical or psychological boost.
This is why grunting should at least be allowed in all gyms. But… please don’t be that guy that grunts super loud on every single rep for every single exercise.
Even though people probably won’t say anything, everyone will find it extremely annoying and distracting.
And some of the grunting noises that I’ve heard over the years sound plain weird.
I think it’s totally fine to grunt a bit when you’re truly struggling maybe on your last rep or two of each set.
But some people grunt on every rep, even when doing exercises like curls or lateral raises. This makes absolutely no sense and it looks and sounds weird.
#4 Neglect personal hygiene and deodorant
Something else that you should never do at the gym is to forget to wear deodorant or forget to shower regularly.
Seriously, hygiene in general is a huge issue for some people at the gym. And it’s very easily solvable with a shower, some soap, and some deodorant afterward.
I used to know one guy that would come to the gym, and you could literally smell his presence, without even seeing him.
Mind you, this gym was 30 to 40,000 square feet in size. And he still had the remarkable gift of stinking the entire place up. To the point that one of the managers had to let him know.
This can physically distract people from their workout and make everyone’s gym session much more unpleasant.
So, remember to wear deodorant. And it’s pretty easy to make sure that you shower at least once a day.
#5 Giving unsolicited advice
Another thing that you definitely shouldn’t do is go around giving unsolicited advice to everyone.
Most people at the gym are not looking for advice, even if they’re doing an exercise wrong. Even as a trainer, most people don’t want to hear what you have to say about their workout.
This is because lifters tend to be stubborn. We all believe that our method of training is the best, and that’s especially true for people that have been training for years.
People that have been training for longer may still believe in old fitness myths that you’ve long since found out aren’t true. Leave these people alone.
Most of the time you’re just going to distract yourself from your workout and them from theirs, ultimately wasting both of your time.
The worst part is that over the years I’ve seen a lot of people giving bad advice in an attempt to help someone else without knowing that person’s specific issues.
And the funny thing is when I was working up to 60 hours a week at the gym, it would be much more common for me to see beginners giving other people advice.
And I’ve almost never seen people that are more advanced and experienced doing this kind of stuff, which is pretty ironic.
Also, I’ve consistently seen guys trying to correct a girl’s form to start up a conversation. But from what I’ve seen, this usually doesn’t end in any sort of romantic way.
Instead, it’s usually awkward and embarrassing for everyone involved.
Now, this doesn’t apply if someone asks you for advice, or you see a beginner making such a horrendous mistake that they’re about to blow out a disk in their spine.
In that case, of course, it’s fine to give some quick advice and get back to your workout without any kind of expectation of them taking your advice.
#6 Not tidying up your weights
You also will want to make sure that you’re not the guy that doesn’t clean up his weights.
After you finish your sets for each exercise you should put your weights away. Often, at the gym you’ll see some people leaving plates loaded on barbells or machines they were using.
A frustrating example of this is when you go to a leg press machine that’s fully loaded with weights and you have to clean up after someone else.
You’ll also see some people roll their weights under the dumbbell rack instead of putting them away. Or they’ll put the dumbbells or plates away in the wrong order.
What I mean is they don’t put dumbbells plates away in increasing weight order – lightest to heaviest.
This is especially annoying when you need a 10-pound plate and it’s behind a bunch of 45-pound plates because someone decided to put their weights away in random order.
Then there’s always the people that don’t clean up at all and they just leave a mess on the floor.
Having worked at multiple gyms, I’ve seen people trip over weights that were left out, sometimes even hurting themselves.
So, clean up your weights. Placing them back is a part of your workout.
Be considerate – some people that are sharing the gym with you aren’t strong enough to lift the heavier weights that you leave lying around.
#7 Exercising right in front of a dumbbell rack
Another annoying thing that you don’t want to do is perform your exercises directly in front of the dumbbell rack.
This is a gym courtesy foul that many people do without realizing.
When you grab a pair of dumbbells from the rack, don’t stand straight in front of it to do your sets of whatever exercise you’ll be doing.
That prevents others from grabbing the dumbbells that they need.
Instead, simply taking a few steps back is usually enough to be considerate of others that need to use the dumbbell rack.
You can also, obviously, bring them over to a separate space where you won’t be blocking other people from accessing the weights or moving around freely.
#8 Spending too much time on your phone
Another huge no-no is spending too much time on your phone. Whether you’re taking selfies or just wasting massive amounts of time in between sets texting, spending too much time on your phone can reduce the effectiveness of your workout and drag out the amount of time you spend at the gym.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Computers in Human Behavior looked at how texting impacted the training intensity of gym members. (3)
The researchers found that those who texted during a 20-minute workout spent almost 10 of those minutes in a low-intensity zone and only 7 minutes in a high-intensity zone.
Conversely, participants that worked out without a phone spent only 3 minutes in low-intensity and almost 13-minutes in high-intensity.
In other words, texting causes people to not train as hard. And I think it gets much worse than this study reveals.
For example, getting distracted on your phone with texting, or going on social media can lead you to taking such a long break that your muscles cool down between sets.
On top of that, being on your phone prevents you from reaching a flow state while working out. Every time you knock yourself out of that state it takes time, without distractions, to get back into it.
And most of you will use your phone for music, so it’s not like you can just get rid of it.
So I suggest that you create a playlist before you go to the gym. Then, when you get to the gym press play, put your phone on silent, and don’t look at it again until the end of the workout.
Trust me this will improve your workouts.
#9 Don’t hog up too much equipment at once
Next, make sure that you’re not hogging up many pieces of equipment at the same time. This goes especially for when it’s particularly busy and it’s clear that others might need to use that equipment.
Supersets, paired sets, and circuit training all provide a great way to save time while maintaining the effectiveness of your workouts.
But if you’re going to use these methods, make sure it doesn’t get in everyone else’s way.
That means – if the gym is crowded, it’s going to be really difficult to tie up any more than one piece or two of equipment at a time.
This isn’t only an issue about other people, it’s also about you.
If you want to use two pieces of equipment for a superset on opposite ends of the gym and it’s busy, there’s a huge chance that someone will start using one of them in the middle of your set, because they thought you were done.
So if you are going to superset, I’d recommend sticking to just one piece of equipment, and then for the superset use dumbbells or a barbell that you can position close to that machine.
Another great way to superset is by using the cable cross, where you can do something like raising the pulley and do triceps extensions. Then you can lower the pulley and do bicep curls. All without running around or hogging too much equipment.
#10 Constantly comparing yourself to others
The last thing that you should never do at the gym, that actually goes hand in hand with ego lifting, is comparing yourself too much to others.
The reason you shouldn’t do this is because we all have different genetics. Thus, the maximum rate that each of us can progress is different from person to person.
For example, let’s look at a powerlifter like Andy Bolton, who happens to be the first man to ever deadlift 1,000 pounds.
According to Andy, the first time he ever squatted at 18 years old he was able to lift 500 pounds. For deadlifts, he was lifting 600 pounds… on his first time. (4)
These are numbers that most highly experienced weightlifters are never able to reach.
This is most likely due to genetics, which is why it’s a bad idea to compare yourself to others.
One huge determining factor of your strength that’s based on genetics is your frame. Research shows that most people with big bones and joints carry more muscle naturally than their slimmer-built peers. (5)
Also, world-class athletes such as bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters all have large frame sizes, making it a good predictor of success in the higher levels of these sports and competitions. (6)
Also, keep in mind that some people at the gym use steroids. No matter how well you train and eat, there’s a huge difference between how fast someone can grow with or without steroids.
For example, researchers compared naturals to lifters taking exogenous testosterone. They found that participants who trained naturally for 10 weeks gained on average 4 pounds of muscle.
On the other hand, participants that were taking 600 milligrams of testosterone enanthate every week were able to put on 13 pounds of muscle in the same amount of time. (7)
That’s three times more muscle so focus all your efforts on just making a little bit of progress each week and month. Don’t worry about others.
So those are 10 of the top things that you should never do at the gym.
Aside from those, I think it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be walking around the gym feeling like you’re superior to everyone else, even if you’re in better shape than everyone else.
Also, within the gym, it’s a pretty big foul to perform curls inside a squat rack. Everyone will even find it funny if you do that.
Take your barbell and curl outside the squat rack so others can do squats.
That about wraps it up, guys. And if you want any extra help, check out the link below.
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- (1) Some gym equipment has more species of bacteria than toilet handles do.
See Figure 4.
- (2) Vocalized exhalation increased average static handgrip force by 25% compared to passive breathing. And by 11% compared to forced exhalation.
- (3) those who texted during a 20-minute workout spent almost 10 of those minutes in a low-intensity zone and only seven minutes in a high-intensity zone. Those who worked out without a phone spent only 3 minutes in low intensity and almost 13 minutes in high intensity.
- (4) “I started weight training at age 18. Right from the start I was strong. The first time I ever lifted I squatted 500lbs and deadlifted 600 pounds. Lads from the gym thought I had trained before, but no, it was my first time. That’s when it all started.”
- (5) Most people with larger bones and joints carry more muscle naturally than their slimmer-built peers.
- (6) Top bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters all have a large frame size, making it a good predictor of success in those three sports.
- (7) Participants who trained naturally for 10 weeks gained on average 4 pounds of muscle. Participants that were taking 600 milligrams of testosterone enanthate every week were able to put on 13 pounds of muscle in the same amount of time.