You're sat at home thumbing through your Facebook timeline, clicking on the latest video of kittens playing the piano, or some teenage idiot blowing his nuts off with a firework when the 'ding' of a new email notification hits your smartphone.
You pause the cat video for a second and take a look at the email that's just landed.
It's your new Iron Paradise Fitness, AESTHETICS THROUGH STRENGTH programme in all its glory.
Now the cat video is a thing of the past and you start sifting through the detail of your new training and nutrition plan. You feel on a high. Building that physique you've longed for is now withn your grasp. You feel motivated. Excited. Raring to hit the gym and start making those gains you don your Gymshark joggers, vest, and hoodie that arrived this morning and start heading for the gym.
Before you get ahead of yourself, there's some key information you need to know prior to taking one step through the front door of the Iron Paradise. It's no good having all the gear and no idea!...
This article is targeted at the gym newbie. Starting a new training programme can be a daunting experience. The exercises may be totally new to you, so the last thing you want to worry about is committing every gym faux pas under the sun (or should that be under the barbell).
The 6 foot tall, 300 lbs behemoth on the bench next to you won't thank you for chucking that 10kg dumbbell on his foot. And the entire gym probably won't want to hear about your night out on the town as you bellow into your mobile phone mid-set.
I'm going to give you 10 tips to make sure day 1 in the Iron Paradise goes off without a hitch. Follow these tips and you'll enjoy every minute of your time in the gym. Better still that 300 lbs man mountain will be your best friend and won't want to tear your head off.
And even if you're a seasoned gym-goer, it's worth scanning through these tips to make sure you've not built up some bad habits that mean you're unknowingly annoying every person you encounter when you set foot in the gym.
The tips I've laid out will give you a window into my psyche (a dangerous pace to go hahaha). The 10 faux pas are my gym-related bug bears. This is my little Room 101 hit list.
Let me know what you think and if you've got anything that really 'grinds your gears' when it comes to gym etiquette, comment below, I'd love to hear what ticks you off!
Now put down the gym bag, grab your pipe and slippers and read on. It's worth taking the time to be a gentleman.
1. Rack Your Weights
The first rule of the gym is ALWAYS rack your weights. I repeat ALWAYS RACK YOUR WEIGHTS. The gym is a bit like living in a student house. You have to be mindful of other people in order to get along and coexist. You don't want to be that guy that leaves his dishes unwashed in the sink. Likewise you don't want to be the guy that leaves dumbbells on the floor after your set. After all, how much effort is it to take the extra couple of steps to put them back on the rack. Oh, and while you're there make sure they go back in the right spot. Gym-goers already have a stereotype of being a bit mentally challenged, so don't add fuel to the fire by appearing like a guy that can't read. The 10kg dumbbells go on the space in the rack labelled '10'. Simple.
And when you're using barbells, makes sure the plates come off the bar at the end of your sets and go on to the racks. While you're at it you'll need to make sure you put them back in order too. Put the plates back on the right peg and don't put the 5kg weight behind the 20kg. It's not only frustrating for the next guy, but for someone like me who's a bit OCD, it means I have to spend time correcting it. Otherwise I can't live with myself.
The 10kg dumbbells go on the space in the rack labelled '10'. Simple.
2. No Curls in the Power Rack
The power rack is the piece of equipment where you'll find guys squatting and doing shoulder presses. The rack is designed for these exercises because it offers an extra degree of safety. If you need to bail on that last rep as your legs start to buckle under the 200kg weight, the rack gives you that security. What the power rack is not made for is for you to do barbell bicep curls. Yes it might be the perfect place, where the lighting is right to show you off in your full glory, but the bicep curl is not a dangerous exercise. Unless you're performing it massively incorrectly, you are not going to get crushed under the weight of the bar anytime soon. So, leave the power rack for the heavy lifting (which you will be doing on the Aesthetics Through Strength programme).
...leave the power rack for the heavy lifting.
3. Don't Hover
Make sure you're not a 'lurker'. These are the guys that spy a piece of equipment they want to use and just hover right next to it while you're in the middle of a set. Worse still, the dude stares at you intently like a wild Cheetah stalking its prey as you perform every single rep. It's a wonder he doesn't pee in a circle around the equipment to mark his territory.
So I urge you not to be THAT guy. All you need to do is ask the guy (or gal) how many sets they've got left and politely ask if they can give you a shout when they're done. I guarantee you'll get a much better response. In my experience, if I spot a lurker I always throw in a couple of extra sets just for shits and giggles.
Make sure you're not a 'lurker'.
4. You're Not a Member of the Form Police
99.99% of the time the guy who's just attempted a 400kg deadlift PB and slightly rounds his back in the process will not appreciate that being pointed out to him after his set. Watching a few YouTube videos does not constitute an expert, so my advice is to only offer your opinion if you're 100% confident in the exercise yourself AND either you're asked for tips or you spot someone doing something that is highly dangerous and likely to do some serious harm.
Watching a few YouTube videos does not constitute an expert.
5. Need a Spot? Just Ask
In your Aesthetics Through Strength training programme, you'll be focussing on heavy compound lifts. This brings with it a level of risk when you're under the barbell, straining every muscle and sinew, and feeling the fatigue in your body. This is where you might want to think about asking for a spot. This is a guy that'll watch over those last couple of reps and make sure you can rack the weight safely as opposed to dropping it on your beautiful face.
If you've got a training partner then great, you've got this covered. If not, it can feel quite daunting to ask the seemingly unapproachable guy, headphones on, in his only little world. The reality is that most guys in the gym are really friendly and will be glad to spot you for those couple of reps. So just ask!
Asking might feel intimidating but the rest of the gym will prefer that than having to deal with a you lying on the bench press, gasping for help as the 80kg loaded barbell is slowly creating a dent in your sternum.
The reality is that most guys in the gym are really friendly and will be glad to spot you for those couple of reps. So just ask!
6. FOCUS. Keep chat to minimum
Your primary aim in the gym is to get your workout done. The gym can be a great social environment where you'll meet some really interesting people from all walks of life, but all that comes second to the lifting. Exchange a few pleasantries as you first get in the gym, but overall keep your chat to a minimum and don't go beyond your allocated rest periods. This will make sure you stick to your plan and that you won't be holding up someone else's workout who's too polite to tell you to shut the hell up!
...keep your chat to a minimum and don't go beyond your allocated rest periods.
8. Don't Chat on the Phone
Worse than chatting too much to other people is chatting on your mobile on the gym floor. I can guarantee no-one wants to hear about your night on the town, the chick you tried to pull, and the stinking hangover you've now got. Save this chit chat for another time. Phones are great for music and tracking your workout on an app, but that's about it. Stick the phone in flight mode and block out the rest of the world for the next 60 minutes. Remember, FOCUS! Those cat videos will still be there after your workout.
And if you can't disconnect yourself that much, limit your phone use to less irritating activities like texting and selfies, which leads me on to my next tip...
..no-one wants to hear about your night on the town, the chick you tried to pull, and the stinking hangover you've now got.
9. Practice Proper Selfie Etiquette
Ah the selfie. An unavoidable part of gym life these days. I'm not the most avid selfie taker, but I do take the odd workout pic / video while I'm in the Iron Paradise (mainly for your viewing pleasure). Follow these two simple guidelines to make sure your selfie taking isn't going to rile the rest of the gym:
- You're not creating the next Spielberg blockbuster, so don't take up the whole gym trying to get the 'perfect shot'.
- Take a quick snap and move on. Others in the gym might want to use the equipment you're on, so don't hold up everyone else while you take enough pics to fill a photo album.
10. It's Not a Pick-Up Joint
It's true you can find bars in the gym, but this doesn't mean you should treat the place like you're out with your mates having a few drinks. It might surprise you that the ladies in the gym are actually there to workout too. Yes, it might sound hard to believe, but they're probably not there just waiting for you to mooch over with your best chat up line while they're sweating profusely on the treadmill.
And be sure not to just stare intently at the lycra clad girl in the squat rack. She's there to train and is highly unlikely to welcome you staring at her butt for the next 15 minutes from across the gym floor.
I'm not saying you can't meet a lovely lady at the gym, but be courteous about it. Be a gentleman, not a Neanderthal.
...the ladies in the gym are actually there to work out too.
11. ALWAYS RACK YOUR WEIGHTS
Ok. That's technically a repeat of rule number one. But if it was good enough for Brad Pitt in Fight Club it's good enough for me.
Now you're set. You can hit the gym in the full knowledge that you will be a pro from day 1. Go get that gym gear on and zoom down to the Iron Paradise for an awesome workout.
Just don't forget your manners.
The Aesthetics Through Strength programme can transform your physique.
If you haven't yet got your hands on an awesome new training and nutrition programme from Iron Paradise Fitness then click here to find out all about the Aesthetics Through Strength programme I've developed through years of knowledge and experience. You'll see what it's done for me and my clients. And you'll also see what it can do for you.
If you're tired of sweating and grinding away in the gym doing hours of workouts that deliver no results. Then you'll benefit from this programme.
If your nutrition plan is either non-existant or consists of bland and boring meals. Then you'll be pleasantly surprised by how delicious and nutritious my plans are.
This is your chance to stop ploughing the same path that always leads to a dead end. Take control and get the ultimate body transformation in record time. Here's that link again...
Happy training chaps and chapesses.
Simon - IPF