Updated: Jan 20, 2022
As with anything in life, there are rules in the gym that we're all expected to follow. Some of these will be written in the contract, others will be unwritten but mutually agreed upon.
Failure to follow these rules will lead to us getting in trouble, humiliated, or sometimes even kicked out of the gym. It's important that we all know what the most common rules are, and why they're important to follow.
This will help us stay on the good side of the others in our gyms, and help keep the gym a safe and enjoyable place to be for everyone.
The Top 20 Gym Rules to Follow
(In no particular order)
Don't Hog Equipment
One of the most annoying things in the gym is to see the piece of equipment that you need being taken up by somebody that's also using three other machines at the same time. If you're supersetting exercises together, make sure you do it as quick as you can and find ways to allow others to use your equipment as well if you're going to be a while.
Supersetting exercises can often take upwards of 10-15 minutes, and this is going to lead to frustration and irritation in the others that also want to be using your equipment.
For example, don't take up a bench press and a squat rack at the same time. Even if you're doing some kind of specific or special training, just don't. It's incredibly inconsiderate. Especially if the gym is crowded such as during peak hours right after work.
If you've experienced this before, you'll know exactly why it's important not to hog equipment. Quite a lot of the time, someone else is waiting to use your piece of equipment if you go to a commercial gym in a popular location.
Put Your Weights Back
Nobody ever likes to have to rerack plates that they didn't use, or kick dumbbells randomly lying on the floor in the middle of the free weights section. If you're done with your weights, put them back!
You might be tired after your workout. Maybe it's time to go home. But every time you don't put your weights back, someone else has to do it for you. And especially if you're a stronger person, lifting weight that most aren't strong enough for, this can be even more irritating and even potentially dangerous for others.
Always put your weights back after you're done. Nobody wants to clean up after you.
Don't Block Someone's View of the Mirror
When we lift in the free weights section, or on a machine, it's good to look in the mirror and check our form as we go through the ranges of motion. However, during crowded hours in the gym, it's quite common for others to block our view of the mirror and stand in the way.
Sometimes, this can't really be helped, as gym do tend to get quite busy during peak hours right before and after work. However, we should always try our best not to block the mirror for others. It's annoying, and you wouldn't like it if it happened to you either.
Don't Talk to Someone During Their Set
Next up, always try not to talk to someone during their set, unless they're in immediate danger or putting someone else in immediate risk.
Many people have to mentally prepare before a set, and really hone in on their technique, what they're going to do and visualizing how the set will feel.
Talking to them during their sets can cause distraction and a loss of their focus on their weights. This can really throw others off and cause the rest of their set to go downhill. Maybe they'd built up a good tempo and were on track to breaking a new set PR.
The point is, it draws attention away from what they're trying to accomplish, and is often very frustrating to deal with. Don't do it unless you really have to.
Always Check if You're Allowed to Drop Weights/Deadlift
Some gyms are located right above office buildings, or in places where making too much noise will quickly cause problems for surrounding buildings/tenants. For this reason, some gyms do not allow members to deadlift or drop weights loudly on the ground.
You've likely seen videos of people getting incredibly upset at others deadlifting in the gym and dropping their weights on the ground. Most of the time, they are overreacting. However, if your gym is located right next to an office building, or there's some other valid reason why you can't make to much noise, then you need to follow those rules.
If you're unsure, simply ask your gym supervisor or manager! They'll be able to tell you right away whether you're allowed to deadlift/drop weights.
Wipe Down Equipment
Nobody likes to finally get onto a piece of equipment after waiting 10 minutes, just to see that the previous user hadn't wiped it down and had left it completely covered in sweat. Always wipe down your equipment after using it.
This is not only being considerate to the others in your gym, but it's also important to sanitation and health reasons as well. Especially during times like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Big Plates Before Small Plates
It's also important that you always put your big plates on before your small plates. Whether you're putting plates back onto the rack of a machine, or you're loading your barbell, you should always put the big plates on before smaller plates.
This makes it easier for you and others to grab the weights that they actually need, and also just looks more visually appealing.
Yes. It does matter.
Respect Others' Personal Space
Personal space is important in almost any public space that you go to. The gym is no different.
In fact, it might even be more important in the gym, as you could get in the weight of weights that someone else is using, and risk injury/harm to you or others around you.
For example, if you get too close to someone that's clean and jerking 100kg (225lb), they'll either be forced to stop their set so that you can pass safely, or risk hitting you with their weights.
It's either very inconsiderate to others around you, or poses a threat to our safety. Neither is good, and you should always try to avoid getting into the personal space of others if you can.
Always Check Whether Equipment is Free
It's also important for you to check whether equipment is really free before jumping onto it. Sometimes it does happen by accident. And that's totally fine. However, you should always just take a moment to check.
For example, if there is a water bottle sitting on top of a bench, there's a pretty good chance that somebody is still using it. Likewise, if there is a towel draped over the seat of a machine, it's probably not free.
It can cause inconveniences and interrupt workouts if you don't check, and save quite a lot of time, for just a couple seconds of precaution.
Never Save Equipment for More Than a Minute
This is pretty similar gym rule to hogging equipment, but never save your equipment for more than a minute. For example, if you're going to the toilet and put your bottle on the bench, don't keep it there for more than a minute.
It's simply annoying for everyone to see that they can't use this piece of equipment, even though you're not using it either. Simply wipe it down, and come back at a later time. If it's being used, you'll have to wait your turn.
Don't Curl in the Squat Rack
There is an ongoing joke about curling in the squat rack. However, it's not just about curling either. It's talking about doing anything that could be done elsewhere inside the squat rack.
For example, doing dumbbell goblet squats in the squat rack simply makes no sense. You could do that in the bathroom and get the exact same effect. However, there are certain exercises that can only be done safely/easily in a squat rack, such as a barbell squat.
So don't take up an entire squat rack to do an exercise (such as curls) if you don't need to. It's incredibly frustrating for the people that actually need the squat rack.
Never Give Unsolicited Advice
Even if you're a personal trainer, people do not like receiving advice that they didn't ask for. You probably wouldn't either.
Whether it's advice about someone's form, the weight that they're lifting or something else, don't give them advice that they didn't ask for. Unless you feel that you absolutely need to, such as a situation where they're putting themselves or someone else in extreme danger.
For example, if somebody forgot to put a clip on one side of the barbell and are squatting a heavy load, then yes, it makes sense to tell them. But even then, be kind about it.
Be Careful with Equipment
Next up, you have to be careful with the equipment you're using. Obviously, try not to break anything.
Don't try to lift too heavy on a barbell back squat. Dropping it onto the safety pins when it's loaded heavily can cause the bar to bounce and bend severely, damaging the bar forever.
Safety comes first, but this kind of thing can be avoided by simply being careful and smart about what you do. And never use equipment in a way that it's not intended to be used. Don't try to do a downwards chest press on a lat pulldown. Trust us, we've seen it before.
Not taking care of equipment not only causes inconveniences for the gym, but for others around you wanting to use that equipment as well.
Always Agree on Everything When Giving/Getting a Spot
It's important that you agree with everything before the set when you're either spotting someone, or have asked someone to spot you.
Did you/they want a spot in the first place?
Do you/they want help with the lift off?
What's the rep goal for this set?
This sort of thing is so simple, yet many people do not agree on with their spotters and end up either wasting time, or wasting energy and leading to conflicts.
Don't Make Too Much Noise
You've probably seen or heard it before if you've lifted consistently for a while. Every gym has that guy or girl that grunts super loud on every rep, and disrupts everyone around them.
If you think this is cool, stop immediately. It's not.
A little bit of noise is fine. That's normal and expected when we work hard. However, too much and being too loud can be extremely disruptive or distracting to the others around us can have a negative impact on their workouts.
Don't Sit on Your Phone the Whole Time
If you're taking up a piece of equipment in the gym, don't be on your phone the whole time. This is going to cause huge inconveniences to people and put their workouts on hold, while you text your friends about what you're going to be doing the coming weekend.
If you're going to take up a piece of equipment, then you should be using it for its intended use. Going on your phone in between sets is fine. But if you're resting upwards of 5 minutes between sets for no good reason, then you're likely on your phone too much.
Never do Anything in a Rush
Doing things in a rush is going to lead to a risk of injury to you or others around you. Even doing something as simple as unloading a barbell or putting dumbbells back in the rack can lead to injury if you aren't careful and try to do it in a hurry.
Slow down, take the time to do things safely and don't be in a hurry. Even if you're going to be late for work, late for dinner, etc.
Be Flexible About What You do if the Gym is Crowded
When the gym gets crowded, everybody has to play their part when it comes to making sure that we all get a good chance to work out.
This means, if there are three people waiting for the squat rack, you probably don't want to wait either. This is going to lead to an extremely long and boring session in the gym. Instead, go do a hack squat, or a leg press, or a dumbbell goblet squat. You won't always get what you want, and that's something you'll just have to accept.
If you're not flexible with what you do, you'll only end up wasting your time, and potentially the time of others as well. Sometimes, you just have to work around things.
Never Use Equipment for the Wrong Reasons
This is quite similar to some of the other points on this list. However, you should never try to use a piece of equipment for anything other than its intended use. For example, trying to do curls on a lat pulldown machine is going to risk injury or damage to the machine.
Trying to do some funny looking 'exotic' exercise that you saw on TikTok is going to lead to potential injury and damage to the equipment you try it on. Never use equipment for the wrong reasons.
Oh, and don't ever take up a piece of equipment just to sit on. If you're tired or lifting with friends in a group, never take up a piece of equipment just so that you can sit down. Others are actually looking to use that for the right reasons.
Always Ask if You're Unsure
If you're ever unsure about anything, just ask somebody about it!
You can ask your gym supervisor any question and they'll try their best to help you out. You can ask any experienced lifter about form, proper setup, etc. and they'll probably be happy to give you a hand.
And if you're ever unsure about the rules of your gym, or whether it's safe to perform something that you want to give a try, ask somebody!
If nobody can give you an answer, and your question isn't specific to you, then a quick search on Google or YouTube will often give you the answers that you need.
Don't waste your time trying to figure everything out on your own. Just ask!
In conclusion, there are many written and unwritten rules of the gym that everybody is expected to follow. There are heaps more than just 20, but we felt that these were the most common and important to follow to keep the gym a safe and enjoyable place for everyone.
If you found this post helpful, remember to share it with your friends so that we can reach more people! It never hurts to know a little more.