The gym wasn't too crowded after work on Wednesday as I set up for my deadlift workout, which was fine. Less preening in the mirror, less, "it's all you, bro!" But in between sets, I became increasingly aware that even though there were less people on the floor, there seemed to be a larger presence dominating the space.
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, hello.
You can spot these guys by their wife beaters, their winter hats, and their general enthusiasm for anything that involves a pair of 15 pound dumbbells. Basically, these are dudes that train like idiots, and they've gravitated to each other to make themselves feel better about their shitty workouts. They pull up their shirts to look at their abs in the middle of the gym. They flex their biceps amidst 18 sets of curls. They never, ever, EVER do squats, or anything involving their legs, unless it's the leg press. They love them some leg press, these guys.
I used to do a box in the magazine called "Gym Etiquette," where I'd dispense the rules of social interaction inside the weight room. Along those lines, a few rules we'd all really, really like you guys to follow:
Easy on the mirrors
There's nothing wrong with stealing a glance to see if you're pumped up. Hey, we're all human. But unless you're under 8 percent body fat and are preparing to step on stage in a few weeks, just spare us. If you're doing the ab pose thing, and you weigh under 150 lbs, those aren't abs, they're ribs.
Stop dropping the weights
True story: Sean Hyson (our Fitness Director and co-contributor to this fine blog establishment) and I had the pleasure of flying out to Venice Beach, California for a story on the history of Muscle Beach. Check it out here. We chatted with Ric Drasin, a former lifting partner of Ahnold's. He mentioned that Jake Steinfeld, creator of the
Body-by-Jake equipment line (you may remember him from late-night infomercials such as this one), was kicked out of the original Gold's Gym for dropping weights and being kind of a loudmouth.
So, ask yourself, do you want to be more like the Body by Jake guy, or more like the guy who used to train with the best bodybuilder of all time?
We thought so.
(NOTE: If the weights are actually really heavy, feel free to drop 'em.
Pushing 110 lb dumbbells on the incline bench? Yeah, that'll be hard to
control after a set of 8-12. Curling the 60-pound fixed barbell? Just put it
down, dude, and stop trying to draw attention to yourself).
To be strong, you must first be weak
I've heard this from a number of strength coaches that I've had the fine fortune or working with over the years. Nobody (except for two-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler) sits down on the bench and hits 315 pounds on his first set, ever. You've got to accept the fact that starting out, you'll be under the bar with 10s and 5s, and that's okay.
The fact is, we've ALL been there. So, instead of picking exercises that let you use more weight, like, I don't know, the leg press (seriously, can't everyone load like a million plated on that thing and push it?), you should be trying to do harder exercises, like the front-squat, or the Bulgarian split-squat, with less weight. No one will laugh at you for doing what you think is light weight. We will laugh at you for thinking that curling 25-pound dumbbells is so awesome that we all need to hear about it for the next ten minutes.
Got your own set of rules you'd like to see instituted? Sign up and comment below.