Don’t be THAT Guy (or Gal)!
Check this out: A list of 27 basic gym etiquette rules every gym goer should know, a complete list of things you should never do in the gym.
You are probably too courteous to break most of these rules yourself.
…one or two of these rules may not have occurred to you.
If you discover you break one or two of these gym etiquette rules on the regular – don’t fret. We all have been guilty a time or two.
So without further ado, here are the 27 gym etiquette rules – from bad manners to safety hazards, remembering this list of workout No – No’s will help keep your gym routine pumpin’.
- 1. Hydrate! Never Forget Your Water Bottle!
- 2. Never Skip Your Warm-up
- 3. Don’t be a Creeper. No Cat Calls & No Ogling!
- 4. What NOT to Wear
- 5. Never Forget to Re-rack Weights & Put Equipment away
- 6. Use Proper Form
- 7. Don’t be an Equipment HOG
- 8. Never Let Them See You Sweat!
- 9. Don’t Curl in the Squat Rack!
- 10. Don’t be a Stinker
- 11. Get Off the Phone!
- 12. Step Away From the Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
- 13. Give Me Some Space!
- 14. Never, Ever Spit in the Fountain!
- 15. Never Grunt Loudly or Talk to Someone Mid-set
- 16. Never Drop Your Weights
- 17. Never Skip Leg Day #legday
- 18. Don’t Fall Into a Routine
- 19. Never Read on a Cardio Machine
- 20. Challenge Yourself, Without Going Overboard
- 21. Offer to Spot
- 22. Unload Weights Evenly From the Barbell
- 23. Don’t be Whack, Step Back From the Rack
- 24. Lay Off the Makeup, Cologne, Body Spray or Perfume
- 25. Never Eat on the Gym Floor
- 26. Never Ever Use Your Phone in the Locker Room
- 27. Keep Your Music to Yourself
1. Hydrate! Never Forget Your Water Bottle!
Studies show that even slight dehydration (2%) can lead to a degradation of an athlete’s abilities, stamina and even motivation.
In addition to that, athletes who ‘drink to thirst’, meaning they drink until they are no longer thirsty, still may not be getting enough liquid to replenish their stores.
Rehydrating your body during and after a workout will reduce oxidation stress caused by exercise and improve performance.
So drink up!
2. Never Skip Your Warm-up
You should never skip your warm-up. A warm-up is often confused with stretching.
Stretching can be included in a warm-up for certain sports, but a warm-up does not necessarily include or need stretching.
One study by Dr. Marc R. Safran showed that an isometric preconditioning warm-up improved muscle elasticity and reduced injury.
Isometric exercises are those where the muscle is worked but the body is not moving such as a plank or wall sit.
3. Don’t be a Creeper. No Cat Calls & No Ogling!
Hey Tiger! I know you have more ‘game’ than this and you would never resort to these tactics to catch the attention of a fellow gym member.
Maybe you have seen this cringe-worthy incident at the gym. Flirting is one thing. Talking about shared interests and making friends is acceptable as long as both parties are comfortable, but no one enjoys being stared or whistled at.
It is already challenging enough to go to the gym and get a proper workout without the unwanted attention.
4. What NOT to Wear
Health, hygiene, preserving gym equipment and contributing to a comfortable gym environment are all reasons to watch what you wear.
A shirt that is too open in the back will leave more sweat and expose your skin to bacteria on the machines. Flip flops are unsafe and jeans or polo shirts don’t leave room to move.
Be aware of makeup and cologne or perfume which can be left behind and make for an unpleasant experience for others.
5. Never Forget to Re-rack Weights & Put Equipment away
You know what I am saying here!
You are ready to do some arm bell curls, scouring the weight rack looking for the 15lb weights and they aren’t on the rack.
The gym is pretty empty, so where are those weights?
After spending 5 minutes looking you find them, on the other side of the room, next to the bench press!
The last one to use them did not re-rack. Don’t be whack, just re-rack. This common courtesy extends to ALL gym equipment.
6. Use Proper Form
Knowledge of biomechanics, or the study of how the body moves, will help you complete exercises using the proper form which helps to prevent injury and ensures the targeted muscle is being worked.
Working the joint or muscle in an unnatural way because of ignorance of how those joints and muscles function is a leading cause of injury.
Just like you might strip the gears and damage your transmission by not holding the clutch in, body mechanics need to be respected and moves need to be performed properly when working out.
7. Don’t be an Equipment HOG
If you are done then it is time to move.
It is a gym, not a lounge.
Being in-between sets is fine, but longer than a few minutes is too long.
Everyone pays to have a gym membership so everyone should have a chance to use the equipment. No one owns anything there, except the gym owner.
If it is a rush hour you should hold off on circuit training or supersets and use one piece of equipment at a time.
8. Never Let Them See You Sweat!
OK, this antiperspirant slogan might be too unrealistic to maintain at the gym, but there is a kernel of truth here.
It’s gross enough to deal with your own sweat at the gym but having to clean up after others is unacceptable.
Always bring a towel to clean up any perspiration, hair or whatever from equipment you have finished using, so the next person is not left to deal with it.
If you tend to sweat a lot lay the towel down first before you begin using the equipment.
9. Don’t Curl in the Squat Rack!
The squat rack is only for squatting.
The squat is a foundational move of bodybuilders, powerlifters and CrossFitters alike, and the squat rack, so named because of the activity that takes place there, should only be used for squats.
The rack is a safety feature needed for squatting with heavy weight.
It may be tempting when gym real estate is hard to come by and the squat rack is empty, but nothing will turn the dogs loose on you more than curling in the squat rack. Beware!
10. Don’t be a Stinker
This one should really be a given, but for whatever reason it just isn’t. Always wear clean clothes to the gym, please!
Using deodorant or antiperspirant and taking a bath before hitting the gym are appreciated.
Nothing eradicates the momentum of a rockin’ workout like having your personal space invaded by an unwelcome stench.
11. Get Off the Phone!
You use your phone to track your reps or listen to music. That’s cool.
You want something to look at between sets besides all the other people there trying to figure out what to do with their eyes in between sets.
That is understandable.
It is those folks who park their bottoms on the weight bench while talking to their mom or checking Facebook for 10 minutes at a time that need to check themselves.
Talking loudly and socializing with everyone in the gym may be a distraction to those around you who are trying to focus on their form or concentrating on the muscles they are working.
12. Step Away From the Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Mirrors have a place and use in the gym.
They are great for observing your form and making sure you are performing each exercise correctly.
Mirrors are great motivation and provide reinforcement when a workout is hard.
Too much of a good thing can be a hazard though.
Looking at yourself in the mirror too much, like in between sets can be harmful.
Researchers at the Institute of Psychology studied people with Body Dimorphic Disorder along with people who did not have the condition and found that both groups experienced an increase in distress and self-focused thoughts when they gave in to the temptation to gaze into the mirror too often. (Study resource)
13. Give Me Some Space!
Never get too close to someone who is lifting heavy weights, squatting, deadlifting and the like.
The weight could fall, the lifter may experience muscle failure or worse and you could be injured.
Being too close is a distraction to the lifter. Do not jeopardize their lift and their safety.
14. Never, Ever Spit in the Fountain!
Someone has to clean that!
And everyone who dares to drink from the fountain has to look at it.
Ewww. It is wrong on every level. Don’t be ‘That Guy’.
15. Never Grunt Loudly or Talk to Someone Mid-set
Grunters at the gym.
You know who I am talking about!
Sometimes grunting has a purpose or a reason.
In tennis it can increase the power in your swing. A weightlifter might grunt because they are releasing air they were holding in during a lift, or grunting gives them a psychological boost to power through. This type of grunting is not a problem.
It’s the excessive, unnecessary grunting that can be a distraction.
Those people who are lifting weights that are not too heavy or people who grunt and swear for attention cause others around them to lose focus.
Same goes for flamboyant chatter between two loud mouths. A loud conversation can really throw you off when you are trying to concentrate on a heavy lift.
16. Never Drop Your Weights
It’s loud. It’s damaging. It is disrupting, and it can be seen as cocky or arrogant.
If a person is able to lift the weight, they should be able to lower the weight and complete the exercise. If they are dropping the weight because it is too heavy then they need to lower the weight or find a gym or box where dropping the weights is acceptable.
There really is no good reason to drop the weight on the floor, it can be a hazard and the weight can cause damage to the floor, the floor pads and cause wear to the weights and barbell, compromising their integrity.
17. Never Skip Leg Day #legday
There is a tendency for some bodybuilders to focus on the upper body because that is where the ‘show’ muscles are.
Neglecting the lower body, including legs, is a huge oversight in a workout. The legs have the biggest muscles in the body.
Favoring upper body workouts also leaves you unbalanced which can lead to problems with posture and susceptibility to injury.
Plus, you end up with chicken legs.
It is strange to see a man with a broad back, huge arms and the legs of Big Bird.
It’s not a good look!
18. Don’t Fall Into a Routine
Performing the same exercise – same weight – workout after workout will stall your progress and can lead to boredom.
Your muscles need to be challenged in order to grow. When the muscle is accustomed to the weight it stops growing.
19. Never Read on a Cardio Machine
If you are able to read comfortably, you are not getting a decent workout.
You are spending your limited time and money to be at the gym, don’t waste it by only going half-in on a workout.
What does a halfhearted workout profit you?
It is better to spend less time at the gym and focus on intensity and body movements than to spend a mindless hour as an elliptical Zombie.
20. Challenge Yourself, Without Going Overboard
To get the best results, select your weight thoughtfully.
The weight should be heavy enough that you feel challenged to complete 10 to 12 reps, but not so heavy that 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps is out of range.
You should be able to sustain this for 3-4 reps. If you can maintain the weight for 6 weeks it is time to adjust the weight upwards.
21. Offer to Spot
If you lift heavy weights, or want to – get comfortable with offering to spot and asking others for a spot.
First, offering to spot takes into consideration the safety of others.
Second, asking for a spot shows you respect your own safety
Third, spotting and receiving a spot is a great way to get to know others and expand your social circle a bit.
The more friends, buddies, and acquaintances you have at the gym, the better the experience will be and this will make you less likely to skip the gym.
22. Unload Weights Evenly From the Barbell
Unload one weight from each side of the barbell at a time.
Physics. That’s why.
If you unload all the weight from only one side first, the bar can tip, or fly upwards. At best this is just an embarrassing distraction. At worse, someone can be injured by the weights or fast moving barbell.
23. Don’t be Whack, Step Back From the Rack
Only dummies do their sets directly in front of the dumbbell weight rack. Don’t be a dummy.
I get it.
It is more convenient for you to just do sets right there where you get the weights.
If you are doing your sets there, you are blocking the path of every other gym-goer who wants to get to the dumbbells.
24. Lay Off the Makeup, Cologne, Body Spray or Perfume
Just don’t. I don’t care what any Old Spice or Axe body spray commercial says. Loading on the spray does NOT cover pre-existing BO, nor does it attract the opposite sex.
Excess perfume or body spray just makes others want to gag and get away from you ASAP.
As for the ladies, a ton of makeup is discouraged too.
Unless you are coming to the gym, directly from work, where it is understandable that you have a bit of makeup on.
Just don’t get decked out full-on glam to go and sweat it all off. It gets all over the machines and then other people have to wear it too. Yuck.
25. Never Eat on the Gym Floor
This is for your own good. Don’t eat on the gym floor. It’s just not sanitary and can be a distraction to others.
A protein shake or pre-workout are fine, but anything more than that, just no. NO.
26. Never Ever Use Your Phone in the Locker Room
Nearly all cell phones these days have cameras, and just having one out in a locker room can be threatening.
I am sure you would never violate the privacy of others…
Those others do not know you from Adam, and its best just to keep the phone tucked away around half naked, or completely naked people.
27. Keep Your Music to Yourself
Get a pair of good gym headphones and listen at a reasonable volume.
I get it.
The gym music sucks. And your own music motivates you to power through just one more set.
Like all these other rules, this one is about having consideration for your fellow gym members.
They may not like your music, or worse, find it distracting.
Find a way to listen to your music without making everyone else listen too.
This completes the 27 gym etiquette rules to love and live by.
Check out our gym rules poster and print up a copy to stick to your gym wall so you can help inform the less initiated folks in your gym.
P.s. If you need the poster in better quality or editable source file please contact me here.
I hope none of these 27 tips hit too close to home, but I doubt they did because I know you are not ‘that guy (or gal)’ at the gym.
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