It can be a little intimidating to make the move to weightlifting, especially when there seem to be a bunch of unspoken rules (golden of which is that it is never the staff’s role to replace your weights). To get started, check out our awesome gym programmes and click on build muscle as your goal. But maybe before you try to bench press your body-weight, let me let you in on 10 basics of weightlifting etiquette.
1. Sweat, baby, sweat – but always wipe it off:
You’re gonna sweat. A lot. This shiz is hard. But the next guy doesn’t want his hands to be slipping off your sweat. It’s a general rule of gym – wipe it off. And not with your perhaps less than savoury shirt that hasn’t been washed since the last time you lifted; bring a towel. A clean one if you can – in fact, become familiar with the washing machine, and the shower. Someone trying to dead lift weights heavier than your last girlfriend might get distracted by the rancid smell of an unshowered body clad in clothes that have been marinating in a gym bag for the last week.
2. Don’t be that guy:
You know that guy. The one who always stands just a little too close and stares just a little too hard. Not only is it super creepy to stare at someone mid-lift, but it’s distracting as hell. Weight-lifters are sensitive souls who need to stay in their bubble – give at least a metre radius around someone as he attempts feats of strength known only to supermen (and women). Respect their space. Don’t step across their platform as they prepare to lift, or stand in their eye-line. Don’t block their mirror as they check on their form. Don’t try to intimidate them by waiting just behind them to use the equipment (if you’re on similar weights – you can ask them if you can work in with them, but then wait politely on the side). Just don’t violate their lifting space.
3. Speaking of space:
Gyms tend to have designated areas for a number of activities, like stretching and benching and squatting. We are all perfectly capable of doing the designated activity in the designated area. You don’t need to set up camp in the walkway to touch your toes, or curl in the squat rack or right by where the weights are – you can take a step back and still be able to swap out for your next exercise. It’s sort of like having a picnic on a freeway; there’s no need to camp out in weird places doing bicep curls when there’s a perfectly good area provided for that.
4. Also don’t be this guy:
The selfish a**wipe who uses eighteen pieces of equipment at peak time and has messily arranged all the weights around him so he can follow his brand new workout plan in record time before heading to the showers to change. Yes – it’s perfectly acceptable to book a bench in the middle of the day to alternate activities. But, otherwise, follow what your kindergarten teacher taught you and share. If you’re not using it, let another kid play with it. And use the equipment meant for the activity – leave the 25 mm women’s bar for snatching and cleaning – and women. If you’re increasing your lifts by 10 kilos a lift, don’t use all the 5 kg plates – swap some out as it gets heavier (yes, I know it’s a bit more hassle, but still…). If it’s not your home gym, you aren’t entitled to ALL the weights ALL the time.
5. You definitely don’t want to be this guy:
He is the cellphone queen. He dedicates the platform to selfie after selfie of his slightly toned torso (not very toned as he’s wasting most of his time capturing his form on his phone rather than concentrating on his actual form). When he isn’t instagramming from a new angle, he’s talking loudly about his weekend plans or laughing at something on Youtube. Phones can be useful. They have apps that can track your training or time your lift. But if you’re not using it for something actually useful – switch to silent, bro.
6. Don’t hulk out:
When you’re lifting, it’s likely that some sound will escape. As I said before, this shiz is difficult… But there’s no need to bark out expletives like a drunken sailor on shore-leave. Control yourself. There’s also no need to have temper tantrums like a little b…boy if you can’t quite achieve the goals you set. Yes, adrenaline is pumping and testosterone is off the hook, but you’re a big boy now and you can practice some self-control.
7. Don’t throw your weight around:
Respect the equipment. You’re not going to impress the honey on the treadmill by how loudly you throw down your 10 kg dumbbells. If they don’t have bumper plates, they’re not designed to be dropped. Don’t slam the bar. Don’t kick it or step on it (or over it – some lifters are a superstitious sort). Don’t step on the plates. Just treat the equipment like you would that honey – tenderly and with some g-d respect.
8. If you’re not his coach, don’t:
Unsolicited advice does not go down well on the platform. Often it’s the least informed amongst us who have the loudest voices – he doesn’t need your opinion on whether he should widen his stance a millimetre or two. He probably knows if his technique has gone off a bit on that last rep, and is trying to get his head back in the right space before attempting the next set. There is one caveat to this rule – if injury looks imminent you are permitted to open your mouth!
9. The golden rule – replace the weights:
You’ve read it on the walls, on the racks, you’ve heard it whispered and shouted at gyms for centuries. “Thou shalt replace thine weights!” Again, you ain’t no kid and there ain’t no nanny to pick up after you, princess. If you use it, put it back. At Viva, you’re getting a damn good deal but those low prices don’t include a maid service. This is gym, my friend; and if you can’t pick it up, you shouldn’t be lifting it in the first place.
10. Basically, don’t be a dick.
There are some specific etiquette rules for weight-lifting (check out our other post about gym etiquette), but it boils down to this: don’t be a dick.
Pumping iron gives you power, but it’s still good to mix up your workout so you don’t burnout. Check out our wide range of classes over here and choose one (or a few) that appeal to you. Keep up the good work!