9 things you see at every gym
You might not find the full 9 at your gym, but you’ll definitely tick off most of this list. You might even be one of them…
1. People on their phones between sets
This is the one on the list that is definitely 100% for every gym, in every country.
I understand that Twitter and Instagram wait for nobody, and you just HAVE to know whether anyone commented on that video you shared of a cat falling off the TV, but please don’t sit on the machine or hog the squat rack for 15 minutes while spending 97% of that time in your virtual reality.
Just leave it in the locker for 45 minutes, and focus.
If you were practicing the violin would you be playing three bars and then stopping to stare at your phone for 5 minutes? Training is still a skill that needs focus and practice.
Well some might, but that would explain why they’re crap at the violin and training.
2. Timing sets
Thanks go to the marketing department at FMI (Fitness Misdirection International).
This is when you see people (normally young teenage guys) literally timing their rest periods between sets with a stopwatch, the idea being that unless they rest for only 47.5 seconds between sets, they won’t be maximising muscle growth or whatever.
Ok, so this doesn’t have any direct effect on me, but it is a good reminder about how much bs advice is out there.
Resting for 45 seconds or 60 seconds between sets is not going to make any difference to your results: consistency, progression and effort over time is what makes your muscles grow.
3. The ‘during’ workout protein shake
Another to chalk up to FMI.
Not content with having you believe a pre and post workout shake is needed, somehow in the 45 minutes to an hour you are working out your muscles can run out of protein and start wasting away.
Hence the guy sitting on the end of the bench press holding the shaker cup with some colourful liquid, sipping between sets.
I’m not criticising; that was me once. I just hope sooner rather than later he realises before his bank account turns red: the chances are if someone has got to the point of drinking ‘during’ workout supplements their cupboards are full of the rest of the product line.
4. The gossip group
I absolutely do not mean girls or women here.
It’s usually a group of 3 or 4 guys variously commandeering different sets of equipment and getting 4 sets done for the hour and a half they are in there. 4 sets between them.
Just like the phone thing, can’t you do that during the other 15 hours and 15 minutes of the day you are awake?
5. ‘I’m not 100%’
It’s an odd phenomenon that every random person I ask to work-in with (i.e. use the same equipement and alternate) has just come back from injury, illness or holiday.
“yeah, usually I do 100 kgs for reps but this is the first session back from being ill for two weeks, I lost about 5 kgs of mass bro”
“just got back from holiday yesterday, just getting back into it, that weight is nothing usually”
Strange, to always catch you when you’re not 100%. Just one of life’s unexplained mysteries I guess.
6. The quarter squatter
If someone tells me how much they squat before I’ve seen them do it, I almost always automatically divide it by two to get the real number.
It’s not because I think they’re lying, I just don’t believe that they can squat what they THINK they can.
It’s because at most gyms, if you see anyone squatting anyway, seeing a deep, full squat with respectable weight is like getting a close-up of a leopard on safari: no, it’s rarer.
Most of the time the guy who apparently squats 180 kgs (405 lbs) will unrack it and hip thrust a few times. Not surprisingly he’ll invariably still have chicken legs and no back development.
7. Mr belt and wrist wraps
The belt and wrist wraps do have their place in a trainers armoury. But they can become an unwanted crutch if you don’t use them sparingly: they’re there to help you, not be something to rely on at all times.
Some people get scared into wearing a belt after hearing some gym horror story about someone who blew out their back whilst working out.
Related article: 8 gym equipment items you (might) need
But in reality the best safeguard to back injury is learning proper form and building strength slowly and gradually using the deadlift and squat.
The guys who constantly wear belts for everything usually tell me it’s because they tweaked their back once and want to protect it.
They’re actually making it worse: how is it ever going to get stronger if you wrap it up all the time?
They should recover from the injury then drop the weight and build up again using good form. That would really help them to avoid future injury.
Wrist wraps might also be a good thing to have if you’re pressing 140 kgs, but even then you don’t NEED them. Not sure how they are helping when you’re curling those 15 kg dumbells.
8. Mr Universe, 1975
You can tell this guy probably was quite strong and big back in the day. He seems to know what he’s doing and still lifts a decent amount of weight.
Well one way or another you’ll probably be sure about it eventually, because once you get talking you’ll know everything about his lifting career: how he used to squat 5 plates for reps, how he used to have trouble finding jeans that fit because his thighs were so huge, when he was your age he was an arm wrestling champion etc. etc.
This is not knocking these guys: I might even be one of them myself one day. But you’ll find one in every gym, that’s for certain.
9. The unobservant spotter
At least the other things don’t actually hurt anyone. It’s amazing how many times you see spotters (someone to help you with the weight if you get stuck) not even looking at the person they’re meant to be helping to stay safe.
I’m not asking for much, man. My set takes less than 30 seconds.
Yeah that’s 30 seconds of not checking out that girl on the treadmill but when I’m done you have a whole other hour to do that, if you can fit it in between playing on your phone or talking to your boys.
How many did you check off?
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