The Beginner's Guide To Proper Gym Etiquette

The Beginner's Guide To Proper Gym Etiquette

11 min read


10 Apr 2024

Hack Beast Mode

  1. Be hygienic
  2. Don’t hog the equipment
  3. Let others work in
  4. Wear headphones
  5. Leave your phone alone
  6. It’s not a photoshoot
  7. Don’t be a creep
  8. Don’t pester other people
  9. Give people space
  10. Keep it down
  11. Re. Rack. Your. Damn. Weights!
  12. No curls in the squat rack
  13. The main thing to remember
  14. How to get started with your fitness goals

We’ve all been there: Joining a gym for the very first time. Stressing out as we make our way through the doors. Feeling overwhelmed at what to do once we’re inside.

Thousands of questions start to run through your mind….

“Am I wearing the right stuff?” “Do I have everything I need in my gym bag?” “What if I can’t figure out how the cardio machines work?” “Will people laugh at me in the weight room?”

It can definitely feel intimidating walking into the gym for that first session—but it really isn’t such a scary place.

In general, everyone in the gym is focused on doing their own thing. Nobody’s there to laugh at you or make your life difficult, and the gym staff as well as personal trainers are there to give you advice and guidance if you need it.

You’ll likely find that as soon as you get started, your worries will disappear. And you’ll quickly grow to love it there.

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to set your mind at ease is to be mentally prepared for your gym workout. Read up beforehand about the equipment and the type of workout you want to do.

You’ll feel far more relaxed when you know you have a game plan.

But there’s something else to be aware of before you set foot inside and hit the weights: the gym etiquette.

These are the mostly unwritten rules that make the gym a pleasant place to work out and keep the place running smoothly—except, they’re not really unwritten, because we’ve, well…written them down.

There are good reasons to follow the rules…

  • It’s polite
  • It keeps the gym safe
  • You’ll have a more efficient gym workout
  • It helps the place stay nice and clean
  • It creates a positive atmosphere
  • You’ll create good habits and accountability
  • You’ll be more productive
  • You’ll set a positive example for others to follow
  • You don’t want to cause trouble or annoy others
  • You’ve got to keep going back there
  • Most other muscle-builders are generally pretty good at following the rules, so we want to make sure you know them too—especially if the gym is unfamiliar territory.

    That’s enough build-up. Now, let’s get into our 12 golden rules of proper gym etiquette.

    1. Be hygienic

    woman wiping down treadmill after using it

    Just like you (hopefully) do in every other key area of your life, you’re expected to practice good hygiene in the gym.

    A big one in this regard is cleaning up after yourself. Take a towel and keep it on hand to wipe the machines and benches down when you’re done with them.

    There are usually paper towel dispensers around most gyms for this very reason, too. So don’t be afraid to use them if you don’t have your towel with you. Nobody wants to sit in other people’s bodily fluids.

    Similarly, clean up your own water spills and try not to cover the drinking fountain with protein powder. If you’re mixing up a shake at the gym, step away to do the shaking so that you don’t leave any gunk near where people drink from.

    Another way to practice good hygiene at the gym is to wear the right things. We’re not talking fashion choices here. No, we’re talking about being practical and we’re talking about general decency.

    That means no dirty or smelly workout clothes and no flip-flops. People don’t want to see or smell dirty feet and hairy toes when they lift weights—at least, most people don’t. And if they do, then that’s a whole other issue that’s beyond the scope of this article…

    You’re obviously going to sweat while you’re working out. But that doesn’t mean the whole gym has to get a noseful of body odor. Wear deodorant to pre-empt any damage, and step out to reapply or wipe and clean up a bit mid-workout if it’s really needed.

    2. Don’t hog the equipment

    The gym is not a place to waste time. It’s a place to get stuff done!

    But this doesn’t mean you get to hoard the equipment. Other people are trying to get their stuff done too.

    Supersetting with equipment is OK to do when it’s quiet, but not when it’s busy and others will likely need the same gym equipment and machines. So stick to using one thing at a time, and resist dawdling outrageously between sets.

    The general gym sign for “I’ll be right back” is to leave your towel on the benchbut there are times to do this and times to pick up and move on.

    Saving your place like this is fine if you’re quickly refilling your water bottle. Saving it to go on a 20-minute adventure around the gym while others are waiting to use it is not.

    3. Let others work in

    As a follow-on from the last point, sometimes people will ask if they can “work in” with you. This just means you do a set, then they do a set while you take your rest period.

    It’s not particularly ideal or desirable, but sometimes it’s necessary. There are only so many pieces of gym equipment, workout stations, and other machines. So you might need to sack it up and share from time to time when the gym is busy. Play nice.

    4. Wear headphones

    man running wearing headphones

    Well, you don’t have to wear them. Just if you’re planning on listening to your own playlists or podcasts on your phone (or on an iPod—yes, they still exist, and at least one member of the CrazyBulk team is sticking by this until the bitter end).

    Nobody else wants to hear your stuff, no matter how banging it might be.

    If you forget your headphones, you’ll just have to listen to whatever the gym speakers are blasting out on that particular day.

    TOP TIP: If you want to get really revved up and ready to smash, get your ears around the CrazyBulk Epic Workout Mix.

    5. Leave your phone alone

    Phones do have a place in the gym. They’re handy for listening to playlists, tracking workouts, and even filming or studying lifting techniques.

    But you don’t need to watch a full YouTube video between each set (we swear that we’ve seen this happen). Or talk to your bros on the phone. Or livestream right in other people’s faces.

    This goes back to that “no outrageous dawdling” between sets point mentioned above.

    By all means note how many reps and sets you do, choose different music, or snap a quick yet perfect selfie, but don’t overstep the mark.

    Speaking of selfies…

    6. It’s not a photoshoot

    man taking selfie in the gym

    It’s fine if you want a quick pic for “The ‘Gram” to show your progress (or just to prove you’re actually at the gym), but do it quickly or when it’s quiet.

    The mirrors are mainly there for you to check and assess your own form. Not for you to flex and pout for your 32 followers.

    And if you are taking a picture or video, make sure it’s just of you. Never film others without their permission. Not everyone will appreciate a starring role in a random TikTok reel for the rest of time.

    7. Don’t be a creep

    While we’re on the subject of not bothering others, don’t be a creep.

    Shorts, yoga pants, and vests will obviously be on show everywhere in the gym, but they’re none of your business. Focus on you, and you alone.

    Don’t be that pervy guy who ogles women and makes them feel unsafe—that goes for the gym and everywhere else in the world. Hopefully we didn’t actually need to tell you this one, but it’s always worth repeating.

    8. Don’t pester other people

    two men talking in the gym

    It’s not just photos and ogling people that are off limits either, just don’t pester people, period.

    Most people come to the gym to get in the zone and work on themselves, not to be hassled or harassed. So…

    • Don’t offer unsolicited advice: Unless someone is genuinely going to do themselves an injury.
    • Don’t try to get free advice from others: The odd question can be fine, just don’t pester somebody for their full strength-training breakdown, meal plan, supplement routine, sleep schedule, favorite Ninja Turtle, etc.
    • Don’t brag: Nobody likes that gym bro who constantly tells people how much they lifted that one time, or that his girlfriend is “absolutely smokin’ hot, dude, (but you wouldn’t know her, she goes to a different gym)”.
    • Leave headphone users alone: They’ve clearly made a choice to have a quiet workout and get themselves in the zone without being interrupted.

    9. Give people space

    Along with not bothering people unnecessarily, make sure you respect people’s space as well.

    Weights are naturally pretty heavy, so having other people in your personal space is dangerous and off-puttingnot to mention plain weird.

    A stepped foot or brief distraction is all it takes to make them drop weights or cause an injury.

    So leave enough space (a good couple of feet or so) between you and the next guy to keep you both safe from incident as you’re crushing it with the free weights.

    10. Keep it down

    One of the big worries most gym newbies have is that people will be watching their every move and assessing (or judging) what they do. But this just doesn’t happen. Most other people are completely inside of their own heads, too.

    So there’s no need to do anything to try and look cool or draw attention to yourself, because people aren’t interested—which is great news.

    The only time people will sit up and take note is if you’re being unnecessarily loud. So avoid shouting, screaming, grunting, or slamming free weights down after your set.

    If you need to do these things, the weights are likely too heavy anyway, and you’ll end up hurting yourself and annoying others. Just take it steady and be safe when you’re lifting.

    11. Re. Rack. Your. Damn. Weights!

    someone re-racking weights

    Sorry, we got a bit carried away there, but this one really winds others up in the gym.

    Leaving your dumbbells lying around randomly—or not picking the bar up off the gym floor—means that people are either going to trip over them. Oh, or they won’t be able to find what they’re looking for when things aren’t put back in the right place.

    It’s rude. It’s arrogant. It’s selfish. If people aren’t strong enough to lift them back up onto the dumbbell rack where they belong—they’re not strong enough to use them in the first place (in our opinion).

    12. No curls in the squat rack

    man doing bar curl

    It’s almost a cliche at this point, but we still see it happen. Don’t curl your biceps in the squat rack. Take them elsewhere.

    The squat rack is for squatting, overhead pressing, and doing other big compound movements with a barbell, like a bench press.

    When things like bicep curls can be done safely and properly in other areas of the gym, then do them somewhere else.

    The main thing to remember…

    The big takeaway from all of this is to be considerate of others.

    You’re all aiming for the same thing: To improve your fitness, build strength and muscle mass, and smash your goals.

    The gym is not yours alone. So as long as you don’t act like it—you’ll be absolutely fine.

    When everyone follows the proper etiquette, the gym is actually a really great place to be.

    It’s full of like-minded people who can all appreciate the journey that every other gym user is on. And you can find plenty of support and motivation there if you need it.

    If you’re ever unsure about the more technical aspects or etiquette of certain exercises in the gym, don’t be afraid to ask a staff member or other gym-goer.

    It’ll be appreciated that you’ve reached out for an answer and want to do things the right way.

    People are generally pretty happy to help with stuff like this (as it’s a genuine query, not unnecessary pestering).

    How to get started with your fitness goals

    weights being added to bar

    If you’re at the beginning of your fitness journey, we’ve got some great resources that can set you on your way to glory. Check out these epic guides to find out how to…

  • Calculate your calorie needs
  • Plan your muscle-building diet
  • Create your beginner’s workout routine
  • Set achievable goals and stay motivated with working out

  • And there’s plenty more where that came from to take your weight training and recovery to the next level once you get going.

    Finally, an important part of a quality fitness plan is the supplements you take to enhance your performance and boost your muscle-building results.

    A great place to start is with the CrazyBulk Quiz. It’s a quick and easy way to find the perfect supplements to partner your gym routine.

    Make sure to check out our Supplement Matchmaker too. This way, you can see a full breakdown of what each completely safe and natural supplement can do for your gains, no matter what your goals may be.

    Heading to the gym for the first time opens up a whole new world of what it’s possible to achieve with your health and fitness—it’s an exciting time!

    Just follow the gym etiquette advice above, and you’ll be golden. Now get out there, have a great workout, and absolutely crush it!

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