I spend a lot of time in the gym with my clients or kicking my own butt. On a daily basis I see gym goers make numerous asinine, pointless and sometimes even dangerous mistakes. So in the interest of public safety and improving overall success, here is my list of top 10 things NOT to do in the gym.
This is standard hygiene. Who knows how often things are cleaned at the gym. Carry a towel to protect your exposed skin from germs is vital to avoid contact with pathogens and/or acne-causing bacteria. Likewise, nobody wants to lie down in a puddle of your sweat, so wipe down equipment (benches, mats and even dumbbells or handles) after use with sanitizing spray. If sanitizing spray isn’t in an obvious spot in your gym, ask for it.
2. Doing cardio before weight training
I frequently see men spend 30-60 minutes on the cardio equipment before heading into the weight room. Guys, spend a max of 10 min on your cardio as a warm-up in order to limber up and get body temperature raised, then hit the weights. Not only will you be able to lift more (you haven’t depleted your glycogen stores yet) and when you do your cardio after lifting your body burns extra calories from fat as the glycogen stores were depleted during the lifting.
3. Trying to chat up the attractive guy/girl with the headphones on
If someone is wearing headphones at the gym it’s a universal sign of “I’m focused on my workout and have no desire to be hit on or make small talk”. If you absolutely have to try and strike up a conversation, wait till the person has finished training and is headed out the gym, try catch them at the juice bar or the exit.
4. Dropping the dumbbells
This is by far one of the most annoying things I see at the gym. Guys, if you cant put the weight down in a controlled manner, it’s too heavy for you and you need to go lighter. Not only is dropping the dumbbells dangerous for you and those around you, it also damages the dumbbells and the flooring. Plus, you just look like a total tool. Dropping weights only becomes acceptable when performing power exercises with heavy weights at near 1 rep max level at the (well-padded) Olympic lifting platform.
5. Doing explosive power exercises for high reps
I blame the Crossfit craze for this disaster. People, explosive exercises such as power cleans, snatches and jerk presses are Olympic lifting techniques designed to develop explosive power. Thus, they should only be done for a limited rep range with heavy loads at a high speed. Physics dictates that POWER = LOAD MOVED x SPEED OF MOVEMENT. Furthermore, the exercises are extremely technical, and as muscle fatigue from high rep training occurs, technique falters and injuries occur.
6. Never venturing away from the weight machines
Never stick to just weight training machines. Machine-based training works only single muscles at a time, thus you burn fewer calories and neglect stabilizing and postural muscles. Unsure how to lift free weights? Uncomfortable on the main floor? Set up a session with a certified trainer to learn the basics and get comfortable with free weights. You’ll get a better and more efficient workout.
7. Too much makeup
It’s just counter-productive to be overly made-up at the gym. We’re there to workout, not for a fashion show or a night on the town. Fine, you can justify lip gloss for chapped lips, just don’t overdo it. No matter how attractive you are, you will not attract positive attention with your mascara running down your face after you start sweating off that cakey foundation. Those heavily made up women who avoid sweating at the gym are not at the gym for the right reasons. For those of us there to stay/get in shape, its just obnoxious.
This is often a problem at gyms, especially during peak hours. If you’re using a piece of equipment that is in limited numbers at the gym, allow others to work in with you between sets. Don’t tote the only pair of 35lb dumbbells or hide them under a towel if they’re only required for one exercise in your circuit. If someone asks to “work in” on a piece of equipment, let them. Merely replying that you “only have a few sets left” just comes of as rude and selfish.
Guys, choose appropriate underwear for the gym, this means no baggy boxers. Mid-lunge scrotum or dong dangle is highly offensive. Choose a high quality boxer brief with moisture wick fabric such as those from Under Armour or Nike. Your boys will appreciate the support. Ladies, similar logic applies to you too. Stop stressing about panty lines at the gym and focus on your health. Going commando or wearing a thong under non-breathing synthetic-fiber pants increases suceptiblity to yeast infections and UTIs. Instead choose a good quality pair of breathable cotton panties. Dudes care more about your health than your panty lines.
10. Overly loud grunting
I don’t care how heavy the weight you are lifting, if I can hear your groans and grunts through my headphones, you are too loud. No one is impressed by what you’re lifting, no one cares. If it’s a new max, a little heavy breathing and the odd sound is ok, but don’t make scene. And ladies, sounding like your having an orgasm while lifting isn’t acceptable either. For all, lifting should be seen not heard.