25 Gym Etiquette Mistakes That Make You Look Like An Ass

Before we begin, a lot of the rules outlined below have stemmed purely from some members having a sense of entitlement in the gym. To put it bluntly, your perception that you’re more important than everyone else on the gym floor is false.  I don’t care if you have a better body than them, have been training for longer than them, or if you don’t believe in their training philosophy – every body is equal. If nothing else, remember that, and you’ll be fine.

1) Don’t use multiple pieces of equipment in peak times – taking up multiple pieces of equipment during peak times, or while others are waiting to use them, is akin to driving in the middle of two lanes during peak hour on the roads; you just don’t do it.

If the gym is quiet, it’s ok, but come on, you know when you’re being selfish, and you know when others are waiting for the equipment! And no, I don’t care that you’re following a Crossfit WOD, just stop doing it.

2) Don’t do bicep curls in the squat rack – no curling in the squat rack. Say it again with me, no curling in the squat rack.  I don’t care who you are, or what you say, this isn’t acceptable. Fixed barbells in most gyms go up to 50kg, dumbbells go up to around the same, EZ bars can be loading in excess of 100kgs, and usually there is a spare Olympic barbell lying around that can be used in a different section of the gym.

So you have no excuse for needing to use the squat rack to do curls.

Simply put, squat racks are a commodity in a gym.  There are only a few of them in the gym, and they’re always in high demand.  If you don’t actually need them for what they’re intended purpose is, then don’t use them.

3) Use deodorant, or don’t wear a singlet – actually, scratch that, you should always use deodorant, and only wear a singlet if you know that you don’t stink. There’s nothing worse than sucking in deep breaths between sets, only to have someone’s bad B.O. creep up and smack you in the face.

4) Always have a towel with you while you’re training – ‘where’s your towel? Oh, it’s back at your house? Then that’s where you should be too.’ You need to bring a towel to the gym, and you need to wipe your benches down after you’re done with them.

No one needs to be playing slip ‘n’ slide on the bench that you’ve just finished using.

5) Put your weights/plates away when you’re done with them – look, I’m happy that you can do sets of leg presses with 10 plates/side. I’d be even happier if you stacked them all away after you’re finished. What I sure as hell am not happy with is to be the one who has to unload them all for you because you don’t have the decency to put them away yourself. In fact, that pisses me off.

weights away

6) Your gym bag goes in the designated locker – not walking around the gym floor with you, often left in some inconvenient place so that everyone has to do their best impersonation of the long jump just to get past it.

7) Don’t ask a dude who’s just about to lift a tonne of weight what he does to get stronger – yeah, you just broke his concentration, and messed up his set. He definitely won’t be diverging his secret training techniques after that. Big lifts require a lot of focus; don’t ruin their concentration.

8) If your using a piece of equipment that someone else needs, let them work in with you – you don’t need the equipment when you’re resting, and chances are that they’ll be finished their set before you’re ready to do your next one. So help them out a bit – I’m sure that favour will be repaid to you in the future.

9) If you ask someone to spot you, make sure that you only need them in case you get in trouble – a spotter should be there for only two reasons –

  1. In case you get in trouble, and need someone to help you rack the bar
  2. To give you a hand off on the bench press

They are NOT there to do extra reps for you. If you’re getting random people in the gym to spot you, and they end up having to lift the bar for you while you go for ‘3 more reps’, then you’re a jack ass, and don’t deserve their help.

10) If you’re called upon to spot someone, you’re equally responsible for what goes down – as a spotter, your first job is not to interfere with the set unless you need to help them out of an ugly situation. Your job is NOT to make them to do forced reps with terrible technique, all whilst yelling ‘it’s all you!’.


11) Watch your language – now I’m not one to shy away from a curse or two, but you definitely don’t use that kind of language on the gym floor. Just because you’re fine with throwing in a curse here and there, it doesn’t mean that everyone else needs to be subjected to it. Save that for when you’re elsewhere with your friends.

12) Peak hour isn’t time for you to strut around, try to pick up girls, or show displays of dominance – if you think that it is, then you need to find yourself a new hobby. Perhaps making cave paintings, and chasing woolly mammoths with a spear is more appropriate. You’re there to work, not stroke your ego. Get in, get your lifting done, and GTFO.

13) Your mobile phone doesn’t belong on the gym floor – you’re not that important that you can’t take a break from your phone for long enough to train. Get over yourself, and leave the phone in your bag.

14) Don’t make excuses for your shitty technique, lack of strength, or let everyone know what you used to lift – firstly, no one cares how much you’re lifting, especially when you’re technique is terrible. People train to better themselves, not to listen to you incessantly talk about yourself. Shut your mouth, and do your work.

15) Concentrate on yourself, not everyone else – rather than worrying about what everyone else is doing, why they’re doing it, and what they’re doing wrong, you should simply worry about what you’re doing. Your results will come much faster once you do.

16) Following on from above, don’t offer unsolicited advice, and definitely don’t coach anyone who doesn’t ask for it first – especially if it’s only to stroke your own ego. Every gym has it’s own Mr Know-it-all, you know, the guy who tells everyone how it should be done. Often these guys aren’t even in the best of shape themselves, but boy do they love to tell you what you should be doing. If this sounds like you then just stop – no one likes getting unsolicited advice from strangers.

Note – if you do notice that someone is doing something that is truly dangerous for them, or others, then yeah, throw in a little ‘hey, I just noticed this is happening, it’s not good for this reason, and if you don’t mind, I could quickly show you how to make it safer’. This approach will be better received, and will have a far better chance at ending the way you want it to.

17) Allow people that are lifting to have some space to get it done – the last thing that a guy who’s grinding out his 15th rep under the squat bar needs to have messing up his concentration, is you squeezing past his moving bar in order to get some plates. Wait for him to finish.

People get distracted when others are moving close to them while they’re lifting, and that puts them at risk. Walk around them, or suck it up, and wait for them to be finished.

18) Please don’t yell like a clown before, during, or after a set – in case you didn’t realise, yes, you do look like a moron when doing so. You’d be much better served channelling that energy into your actual lifting. There are exceptions to this rule, though – if you’re deadlifting over 500lbs, or doing something as equally impressive, then by all means, whatever helps you lift is fine by me.

19) Yes, everyone saw that same Ronnie Coleman documentary that you did – and everyone else took a lot of comedic value from him yelling before his sets. That same documentary is almost 12 years old now, so when you yell ‘lightweight’, or ‘yeah buddy!’ throughout the gym now, in 2013, you’ve well and truly missed the boat, and it’s time to give it up.


20) If you’re going to drop your dumbbells, control those sons of bitches – in fact, if said dumbbells bounce more than a half a foot away from where you put them down, you’re a jackass. It’s dangerous to have heavy dumbbells bouncing all over the place, and I’ve seen more than one bounce into someone’s ankle. Control them better.

21) Please, pleeeeaassse, don’t ogle other members – both mean and women. Guys, particularly younger guys, are just as guilty of ogling that big dude with an amazing body, as they are for ogling that hot chick wearing yoga pants. I know, those pants are amazing, but generally people aren’t comfortable with you staring at their backside.

22) Don’t make fun of overweight, or skinny, members – I know that this is tough for some to realise, but most people are in the gym to improve a part of their body that they’re already self-conscious about. They don’t need you making it worse.

23) Don’t misuse the equipment – this one really rubs me the wrong way. Look, it’s just as easy to take care of the equipment, as it is to mess it up. The only thing that purposely slamming equipment, wrecking barbell collars, or dropping weights from ridiculous heights suggests is that you’re a moron with a blatant lack of respect for other people’s stuff.

24) Don’t walk around puffing out your non-existent lats – ILS, or inflated-lat syndrome, is all too common in commercial gyms. It’s akin to a gorilla beating its chest in front of a rival gorilla, except more pathetic than scary. Once again, people don’t care how big you are, or how big you think you are – they’re there to better themselves. So relax, loosen up those shoulders, and focus on getting a good session in.

25) Don’t ask other members if they know where to get steroids from – I’m certainly not going to judge anyone that wants to use steroids. I honestly have no moral objection to them – if people want to use them, that’s their own business, and I have no place in telling them what they should, or shouldn’t do. On the other hand, I don’t think that you should be walking around the gym asking every Tom, Dick, and Harry where you can get them from – a lot of people don’t care for that scene, and most don’t know it even exists (nor do they want to).

I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of other potential points of proper gym etiquette. Help me out, list any ones that I may have missed in the comments section below, and let’s make this comprehensive enough so that anyone who reads it won’t make an ass out of themselves next time they’re in the gym.