Save yourself a lot of headaches by learning the real rules of the gym. This complete guide on etiquette covers everything from squat rack curling to personal hygiene.

Before you hit the gym to grow, there are a few things you should know. Follow these unwritten rules and you will save yourself a lot of grief and gain plenty of bro-respect. Ignore these unwritten rules and you might find yourself without a spotter when you need one most.

1. Re-rack your plates and your dumbbells. Never, never, never leave 645 pounds on the leg press or your dumbbells rolling around on the floor waiting to be tripped over.

2. No curling in the squat rack. The squat rack is for...squatting. Never insult someone who actually trains legs by invading their sanctuary with a bro-curling session.

3. Perform a sniff test before entering the gym. No one wants to smell your skanky armpits, or the dried sweat on your clothes from yesterday's workout. If your gym attire stinks, do an about face and slip into something that isn't offensive.

4. Wipe sweat off the machines you use. No one...and this includes raving lunatics and squat rack curlers...wants to train in a swimming pool of your body secretion.

5. Speaking of sweat, don't jump in and spot someone on the bench press if your forehead is dripping with sweat. No one wants to taste the fruit of your gym efforts when they are in the middle of a PR attempt.

6. Don't walk in front of someone who is training and facing the mirror. Even if you find the practice of staring into a mirror repulsive, no one wants to see your big watermelon head in 3D while hammering out reps.

7. Speaking of mirrors, don't start hitting double bicep poses next to someone who's actually training. It's disruptive.

Related: 10 Classic Stereotypes At Every Gym (Use Caution Around The Ninja!)

8. The dumbbell rack....there is no good reason to curl right in front of it. Other members need dumbbell access too. Show some respect and back your booty away from the rack.

Screaming at the gym

9. Wearing a belt for every set of every workout makes you look like a doofus. Please take note.

10. There's no real reason to obnoxiously grunt. No need to let out roars with every rep.

11. Men, stop staring at female gym members. Show some respect and think with your brain instead of your genitals.

12. Don't rush over to spot a female lifter on the bench press unless she asked you for help. She does not need "your boys" swagging inches away from her forehead.

13. Wearing gloves is seen as a sign of weakness. Calluses are hand trophies.

14. Train your legs, no exceptions! 

15. Your shaker cup must contain more than water. A shaker cup is for shaking; combining water with a supplement powder of some sort. Note this and respect this.

16. Never unload a barbell unless you are 120% certain that no one is using it.

17. Never re-rack dumbbells or move a bench station unless you are 121% certain no one is using them.

18. Moving another member's gym bag, shaker cup or towel is not allowed, under any circumstances.

19. Don't give unsolicited advice. Even if someone "is doing it wrong", it's none of your business. They will ask you for advice if they want your advice.

20. Make sure to remain a safe distance away from someone that's in the middle of a set. Walking within inches of a moving barbell is a good way to distract another lifter and get them injured.

21. Don't stand right behind someone who is lifting while facing a mirror. It's creepy and awkward.

22. Please, avoid telling a stronger lifter..."I used to squat 650 and bench 450 in high school before my tragic injury."

23. If you aren't sure how something works, ask someone. Period, end of story. You don't want to end up wearing a dipping belt holding two 45 pound plates while on the assisted dip machine.

24. The Smith machine can only be used for inverted rows. Benching and squatting on a Smith machine does not count.

25. Bouncing bench press reps off your chest is not an efficient way to train. Man up, learn proper form, and save your shoulders some wear and tear.

26. No 8-station circuit training during peak gym hours.

27. Stack your plates correctly. There is no need to bury 5s and 10s behind a couple of 45s of the plate tree.

28. Don't aimlessly linger next to a machine you aren't using. Someone might mistake you for a lifter that's actually using the machine.

29. Use 45 pound plates.Loading up a bar with 5 or 10-pounders to make a paltry weight look heavier isn't cool.

30. No kettlebell swinging, burpees or jumping rope in high gym traffic areas.

31. Never, under any circumstances, try to talk to another gym member who is wearing headphones. They will not hear you, and you will end up looking silly.

32. If someone asks to work in, allow them too when possible. There is plenty of time for another member to work in a set during your rest periods.

33. You are never allowed to talk to someone who is right in the middle of a set. Never. That means never.

34. Never approach a swole gym member and ask bro, what supplements are you taking?

35. No farting. Take it to the locker room.

36. You are not allowed to talk to other gym members while you are nude in the locker room.

37. Don't use the gym's major walkway to perform walking lunges.

38. No texting while sitting on a piece of equipment. If you want to text, go text somewhere where you aren't annoying other gym members. Stop hogging gym equipment.

Texting in the gym

39. Don't bother strangers. People are at the gym to workout, not to listen to your random stories. Keep conversations with strangers brief. If they want to talk with you, they will let you know.

40. Spotting? Don't disrupt a rep by unnecessarily touching the bar. You are there to help a lifter if he/she fails, not to help them lift the weight.

41. If you tend to sweat like a pig in a sauna, bring a towel along with you as you lift.

42. No spitting allowed in the water fountain.

43. Don't slam the weights in an attempt to sound alpha. It's ok on some exercises to make noise. That's normal. On the other hand, if you are trying to make noise on purpose it's time to stop.

44. If you are a smoker, make sure you don't smell like an ashtray as you walk into the gym. Bring a fresh change of clothing. No one wants to smell cigarette stench while lifting.

45. Blue-toothing in the gym is a no no. That awkward moment when other gym members think you are talking to them, and realize you're not.

46. Never try to spot someone who's deadlifting.

47. Never make eye contact with someone using the adductor machine.

48. No selfies. Ever.

49. Don't come to the gym with stuff hanging out. Cover yourself appropriately. 

50. Do not perform dangerous exercises in high traffic areas. If you want to squat while standing on a bosu ball, take it to the corner of the gym.

Posted on: Fri, 03/26/2021 - 11:53

#24. I do Smith Machine hack squats. It's actually a very good exercise. This is because I do not do (cannot do) leg extensions with a lever machine. There's this lanky guy who works out at the same time I do who uses the power cage and the attached deadlift platform for all kinds of goofy crap (Who's his Youtube guru?). It's doesn't bother me, except when I'm waiting to start my leg day (squat heavy.)

Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2017 - 22:59

You missed - don't bring your coworker's in to do a circuit training session in the middle of the machines. A buddy is good, but 4's a crowd. Hell, 3's a crowd.

Robert Convict
Posted on: Tue, 09/27/2016 - 20:17

You forgot one. Don't use a spare bench as your personal picnic table by leaving your shaker cup, keys, phone, gym bag etc on it while you are training on another bench or machine, so I don't have to walk around the gym asking about whose stuff it is or break Rule 18 by dumping your plastic bottle etc onto the floor or throwing it into the trash.

And another: If I am using a machine or Bench Pressing etc, don't be fooling around grabbing weights off the spikes on it. If the gym is short on weights and you need more plates take them off another machine or ask me first - and wait until I am done with my set.

This also means don't do sit-ups with your feet directly under my head while I am benching at the Smith Machine, using my machine's crossbar to hold your feet down. It's very unnerving. Yeah, actually had a guy do that last night.

Posted on: Fri, 07/29/2016 - 16:43

Thats entirely way too many rules. Do people even have half these problems in a gym with other members. I would look for another gym if I had that many distractions where I used to go.
Oh yeah and farting can be almost impossible to avoid at times while deadlifting heavy. js

Skip the bs; build your own gym. Costed me 3 years the cost of a payed gym and I have everything i want. Plus a lot of gyms dont have power racks

robert mccullough
Posted on: Mon, 07/25/2016 - 09:20

#13 So wrong. The full cover gloves I use keep me from getting everyone's else sweaty germs on my hands and keeps me from getting sick often. Wearing gloves is one of the smartest things I do.

Mr. Fit
Posted on: Tue, 08/02/2016 - 13:06

Here's the thing: if you wash your hands, then "sweaty germs" don't actually enter your system via mouth, eyes, nose, open cuts, etc. Also, sweat is actually pretty sterile and clean compared to any unseen skin cells that may have sloughed off. Sweat inhibits bacterial growth, at least for a short time. WASHING YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY should be one of the smartest things you do, instead of getting your understanding of biological processes completely wrong.

So there is that.

Posted on: Wed, 07/13/2016 - 14:09

I disagree with #15. Your shaker cup does not need to have something besides water at all times. Some people use them for pre workout and protein shakes. Not everyone needs bcaas and amino acids like a queer for each and every lift. Besides that, good rules.

Posted on: Thu, 03/24/2016 - 11:09

I disagree with #18. The more important rule is that nobody should ever leave their towel or other personal items in the way of somebody else using gym equipment unless they are at that very moment using the equipment (not resting between sets).

Or put another way, nobody should ever do anything that deters other people from using equipment when someone is not actually in the middle of a set on that equipment (not resting). Exceptions to that are when a lot of weight has to be added or taken off a bar or when the height of a squat rack needs to be adjusted.

Related to that, there's no problem with doing a circuit using lots of machines, so long as you don't prevent/deter other people from using the machines when you are not doing a set.

Posted on: Tue, 08/02/2016 - 16:53

Actually super-setters are the main reason I built my gym. Nothing annoys me more than 4 or 5 young guys tying up half the machines in a gym just because they want to superset.

Robert Convict
Posted on: Tue, 09/27/2016 - 20:39

Exactly! If your towel is not on the bench and you walk away for some reason - you don't have a bench!

Posted on: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 20:37

"16. Never unload a barbell unless you are 120% certain that no one is using it."

Once someone leaves a barbell in the squat rack or on a bench for 10+ minutes it's fair game in my eyes. I've had people complain about that before, but another rule should be don't think you own the rack for the entire time you're there unless you're using it.

Posted on: Wed, 05/11/2016 - 11:26

You are so right, bro!!

Rusi Sifiksi
Posted on: Tue, 09/01/2015 - 12:18

#36 - In Europe - at least in Finland - talking while naked is ok, normal and just fine.

Posted on: Wed, 07/13/2016 - 18:31

I was actually thinking the very same thing; a bit weird. Being naked doens't prevent comunication... anyway add Italy to Finland. And you can wathc girls too or forcestart a conversation with them, who doesn't, Bin Laden?? we are in a gym ,there is a huge percentage of great girls. You throw your dice. 1 in 10 kicks in.

Posted on: Sat, 07/04/2015 - 10:27

Many very good comments. However, I thought I'm "old school" (58 year old gym owner), but some of your "rules" are REALLY old school. Seems a guy must look like a Neanderthal if he is a weighttrainer; "Calluses are hand trophies- rule 13". "Don't help a guy who's doing it wrong - unless he asks" . Thanks but NO THANKS for that advice. the right way! No squats on smith machine: some of my experienced members have landed in hospital due to overdoing it on a squat machine! I hate the thing. That's the way Tom Plats did it - Far more control (and safer) on smith or even hack squat machine. We want healthy members when they're in their 50's and 60's. Not invalids who tell everyone "when we were young, we didn't do it the sissy way"!

Steve Miller
Posted on: Sun, 09/25/2016 - 04:21

FYI: The fastest way to hurt your back is to squat on a smith machine. 20 years in powerlifting and only wearing wearing knee wraps unless
I'm doing singles. Never hurt my knees nor back squatting in a power rack. I've seen way to many people hurt their backs from squatting in a smith machine. It's just plain stupid.

Mr. Fit
Posted on: Wed, 09/28/2016 - 02:15

Noooo....The fastest way to hurt your back is to try to carry your big ego with you into the gym.

Your ego is what tells you that you can't go slow and start with the puny weights and stick with them until you get your form damn near PERFECT (because there's no such thing). Only after you do that should you move on to the heavy weights.

So these guys who have limited core strength wanna be powerlifters without first having POWER, and want to have people looking at them and saying, "Whoa! That's a lotta weight you have on that bar there--you MUST be A REAL MAN!!"

It's not the Smith machine; it's the lack of proper preparation for the activity. Prep work is more than just a good warm-up set. A lot of people don't know how to prevent injury. If you can't squat 30 lbs with good form, you sure as hell ain't gonna do it well with 300 lbs.

Don't blame the (Smith) car for the driver (Injury-prone fragile ego) being a drunken idiot (Over-reaching their own capabilities and not admitting their limits).

Posted on: Tue, 05/12/2015 - 00:27

Rules make sense most of the time. But ifthere are only two people in the gym they can be adjusted. Nothing wrong with introducing yourself. Members don't mind removing headphones to say hi, Many times they welcome the break. Also the rule about not speaking when naked is absurd. We are men and men have shared locker rooms in college, the military, and other places for eons. We have nothing to be ashamed of and does not automatically have any gay connotation.

Posted on: Sun, 01/17/2016 - 06:32

I hear ya, But......
If I (as most people), in the middle of the day enter the gym, most of the time we are looking to get a great work out and get in and out at the same time. IM a people person and have friends, family, co-workers, people I run into on the street, stores, etc to talk to.... When I'm at the gym i don't have all day, nor do i want to be there anymore then I have to. If I have Ear buds in my ears while I'm walking around a bunch of other people, then you should take that as someone who DOES-NOT want to be bothered. Don't confused forced niceness with -"It was ok to talk to me and force me to stop what I'm doing, stop my music, take off my ear phones and no exercise" because you wanted to talk. I go to the gym to get into the zone, ignore everyone and unlike any other time of the day focus on me, push thru and get a great work out in. I can not do that if I have to talk to people in the gym. Plus for me its during my hour lunch time that I go during the week. So i respectfully say that your comment that its ok to approach people wearing headphones in both ears and basically force them to get out of the zone and appease your need to just talk should be reconsidered, because i believe you are wrong in your analogy of the situation on this 1 matter.. Now as for trying to talk to me while naked???? If I don't know you, then 110% if you statement isn't "Help, I've fallen or I'm having a heart attack", then yes I will think you are either gay and trying to pick me up or your some crazy creep.. Period!

Posted on: Sun, 04/12/2015 - 02:00

GReat Tips! And as a woman powerlifter, I have to deal with some of these more than the guys do, especially guys over eager to spot you and they ruin your set. I wish this were listed everyone at gyms.

Posted on: Sat, 04/11/2015 - 18:28

Number 13. Hell I never used to wear gloves. But it got to the point that my girfriend would let me touch her because my hands were so rough. So I wear gloves to keep my palms from getting that sandpaper look and feel. And now I can touch those you know whats...............

Mr. Fit
Posted on: Tue, 08/02/2016 - 13:09

Try LOTION. It's this new thing, I hear.

Posted on: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 11:42

If the squat rack is empty, and there's no line to use it, then hell yeah I'm curling in the squat rack

Posted on: Wed, 05/13/2015 - 10:36

So what if someone who actually needs to use the squat rack walks over and you're hogging it like a moron? There's usually other barbells for curling..

Posted on: Sun, 07/24/2016 - 16:20

Re-read my first comment again.

Posted on: Thu, 05/14/2015 - 15:22

Why? You can literally do that ANYWHERE ELSE. Don't use an area specifically dedicated for an exercise for a different exercise. You know why there isn't a curl rack? You don't need a curl rack.

Posted on: Wed, 07/01/2015 - 23:12

Why....? There is plenty of room throughout the gym to curl.

Posted on: Fri, 02/05/2016 - 11:51

Why not use it if no one is around? Are you that "tough" you can't ask to work in. 100 dollars says if an attractive female is doing curls, you won't go complain to her to get out.

Posted on: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 13:55

curling in the squat rack makes about as much sense as sit-ups on a bench press. theyre high-demand exercises. its just something to be avoided.

Posted on: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 20:05

I make eye contact when im on the adductor machine, no rule against that haha

Posted on: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 17:52

#6: if you are training in front of the mirror, but are also in front of the weights I need, I will walk in front of you to get my weights 100% of the time. Nobody ever said "you need a mirror to train." But, you sure as heck need weights. So, close your eyes, sweetheart, and deepen that connection.

Will D
Posted on: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 11:01

If there are plates on the bar for more than 5 minutes without being used and I need the bar/rack, I am moving them, you shoulda been working instead of running your mouth.
I will stop staring at the girls when they stop wearing shorts that let you see everything when they bend over. And I hope that is not anytime soon.
If your gym bag is where it is supposed to be I will have no reason to move it. Leave it sitting on a bench for 20 minutes to save it for your set later I am punting that shit down the stairs. Hope you left your Ipad at home.
I will use the smith machine for what ever the hell I want.
If a fart comes out while I am dead lifting or squatting deal with it.
What do you care whats in my shaker, maybe I put water in it after I finished my pre-workout. But really this does not affect you, therefor none of your business.
Other than that I mostly agree with your list.

Posted on: Tue, 05/12/2015 - 05:56

Haha.....I like the comments

Posted on: Thu, 05/14/2015 - 15:25

Smith Machine lifts do NOT count. I can only bench 225 free weight, but I can do 240 on a Smith Machine. Coincidence? I think not. If you have shitty form, then by all means. I refused to even try another lift on it because it was clearly bs.

Posted on: Thu, 07/09/2015 - 00:54

If they don't count (on a smith), then I take you your body got NOTHING from those reps you were doing at 240? Maybe you should try "listening" to your lower back once in a while, even if you might still be a "bullet proof" youngster!

Posted on: Thu, 08/14/2014 - 00:49

Wow great article ....that was a lot of stuff.

Posted on: Sat, 06/21/2014 - 16:24

If there's no line at a squat rack, hell yeah I'm going to do my curls in it. You don't like it? Tough!

Posted on: Sat, 06/21/2014 - 11:38

I feel like the person that made this pays way too much attention to what other people are doing.. Just get a lift in, who cares what other people do. There's always gonna be *** in a gym no matter what, just ignore them

Posted on: Sat, 06/21/2014 - 09:43

I agree with all except no. 24, and the ones specifically directed at men apply equally to women.

Posted on: Fri, 06/20/2014 - 22:30

Hahah to all of the butthurt people out there:

these obviously aren't "rules" so chill out

its just saying what pisses other gym users off

I agree with almost all of them!

Posted on: Fri, 06/20/2014 - 22:11

step aside and let others drink when you are filling your bottle at the fountain. gym etiquette 101.

Posted on: Sat, 01/30/2016 - 13:24

Or bring a bottle to drink out of so you don't have to visit the fountain to much der!

Posted on: Fri, 06/20/2014 - 20:35

So I'm supposed to bring two bottles with me to the gym? My shaker for my pre workout/post workout supplements and a bottle for water while I'm actually in the gym? A bottle is a bottle, who gives a sh** I don't see a rule on here that all gallon jugs need to be filled with milk. If what I drink my water out of bothers you then you have no place in the gym.

Posted on: Wed, 06/18/2014 - 11:32

I agree with all these i wish every Gym member could actually see this info, some are way too annoying.
Thanks chief

Posted on: Mon, 06/16/2014 - 12:06

27 is one of my bigger peeves. There are a few grandmas, and a lot of out of shape people working out at my gym that can't pick up a 45 to get a 10, 5, or 2.5 off the tree. Plus it is damn irritating so show some respect.

Posted on: Mon, 06/16/2014 - 04:36

You should try using a gym in China. All of these rules are broken there all the time by almost everyone! Especially # 36 Ewwww!

Posted on: Sun, 06/15/2014 - 22:55

The one that really drives me up the wall mentions the inconsiderate fools who get on their cell telephone or start talking while on a machine.....just sitting there like they are in a lounge. My patience grows real short, and I first ask them if they are using the machine. If that does not work, I ramp it up to "how about letting me use this machine since your are not" If that does not work. I go to "use it or get off". I think gyms should ban cell phones from being on the floor....they should be turned off, and in a locker. It's worse when school is out and the teen crowd show up.

Posted on: Thu, 07/02/2015 - 19:11

They should be in your pocket in the locker room too. Or you should at least be facing away from everybody with your camera.

Posted on: Wed, 07/08/2015 - 09:42

Amen buddy. A couple other top "peeves" are multiple people getting adjacent treadmills and carrying on about their pathetic lives and children at full volume. If you want social intercourse, how about a coffee shop? Nobody wants to hear it.

Posted on: Sun, 06/15/2014 - 17:10

Broke #47 once. Had to find a new gym