Gym Etiquette in the Free Weight Room

After 20 years of regular gym attendance I’ve learned a few things about sharing equipment and floor space in the free weight section of the gym. In an effort to promote a courteous and drama-free environment there I’ve listed below what I consider the ten most important rules to follow when training in the free weight room.

dumbbells racked

1. Don’t take or load weights plates from a machine or bench while someone else is using it. No one appreciates strangers shaking or banging the equipment they’re currently using. This is extremely annoying and causes the lifter to lose concentration while straining to get reps off.

2. Don’t throw weights around the gym. Do not drop or toss dumbbells or loaded weight bars on the floor. Don’t let cable machine weights just free fall when you finish your rep. All this breaks equipment and makes noise that NO ONE wants to hear.

3Don’t ask strangers to “Spot” you. Spotting (helping someone lift a weight they otherwise could not handle without assistance) is an advanced technique for expert weight lifters only. Average lifters should not use weights they can’t safely manage themselves, and expecting an inexperienced stranger to hold a weight over you in case your strength fails is unsafe.


5. Wipe off your sweat, re-rack your weights, unload your plates. You’re NOT special; the gym staff is not your personnel slave force and the rest of us are tired of unloading the plates YOU put on the bar. If you don’t feel like cleaning up after yourself stay out of the gym.

6. Don’t scream, yell or moan while lifting. Control your noise pollution, the rest of us really don’t want to hear it. Please shut up when you lift.

7. Don’t ask others “how many sets” they have left or if you can “work in” with them. Instead of pestering others, why not try a new exercise while you wait your turn? Most exercisers don’t feel like giving a deadline for their workout and don’t want to be rushed. Never feel guilty if you’re not comfortable letting others “work in” with you.

Warning: Standing over others and staring at them while impatiently tapping your little workout clipboard as they use equipment that you desire could cause serious tension and injury.

8. Don’t misuse or hog equipment. Don’t use the sit-up bench for weightlifting. Don’t use the bench press for sit-ups. Use one bench or cable machine at a time. Don’t expect others to give back the equipment their using after you leave it. Leave your gym towel on equipment to let others know that you had to go to the bathroom and you’ll be right back.

9Don’t block aisle ways or mirrors. Give others space. The rest of us don’t want to have to step over you to reach the weight room, the dumbbell rack, the water fountain, or the bathroom. Don’t block the view of exercisers watching themselves in the mirror as they workout. Move benches at least two arm lengths away from others before starting your routine. Keep your butt out of everyone’s face.

headphones and phone

10. Don’t touch the personnel property of others. And never store your personnel property on gym equipment. If in doubt, ask others in the vicinity of the previous user is finished with equipment that you’d like to use.

Please keep in mind these rules are meant as a “failsafe” courtesy guide for dealing with others specifically in the free weight room. Follow these and you can’t go wrong.