Have you ever been in the middle of a set, and someone close by, is making loud grunts and groans, then you see that the weight that person is using, is not enough to even warm up with?
This happened to me today, there was this young guy, maybe 20 or so, and in great shape, who was doing a set of bench press, and he had a 35 on each side of the bar, along with 3 of those little bitty things, like 2.5 pounds or something, and he was grunting as if he had 500 lbs on the bar! Luckily, I had already finished my heavy set, before he added the second pair of tiny plates to the bar. I was doing a set of dumbbell pullovers, then the grunting started, and since I had seen what the kid had on the bar, I lost my focus and laughed so hard I almost dropped the 75 lb dumbbell on my head! Thinking that the noise would soon stop, I waited, but, the kid added that third tinker-toy to the bar, and did another set with his massive 130 lb load, while making even louder grunts and groans, the only thing missing was the usual fart that accompanies that much effort, when he finished that set, after all of that noise, I would have thought him to be done, but no, I saw him grab 2 more of those plates, that honestly could be used for key chains, I was sitting there, my towel over my face laughing, I couldn’t take it any more!
I wasn’t the only one, there were two or three others also laughing, one guy, doing dumbbell shoulder presses, dropped his and almost fell off the bench he was sitting on. I couldn’t take it anymore, I didn’t want to embarrass the kid, had I stayed any longer, I would have wet myself laughing! I couldn’t even finish my workout, I had lost my focus, and laughing zaps my strength, so I just called it a day and left.
The moral of the story is simple, if you are a “vocal” person, and train in a setting where others have to hear you, keep it down, anyone can see the weight you have on the bar, and unless it is heavy, keep your little girl sound effects to yourself, it is just rude, funny, but rude.
Gym Etiquette is one of those things that have “evolved” over time. Back in the day, throwing plates, chalk bags or even dumbbells was a normal thing. Getting mad that you missed a lift, or something was out of place was common. This was also a time when girls were not often found in a gym, but when they were, they were serious about training. Women almost always hung out in those “girly” places, like “spas”, and then “fitness centers”, but now, even a “Gym” like Golds, is nothing more than a fitness center, I often wonder if Joe Gold saw that coming back in the day, I doubt it.
Anyway, here we are in the present, and today, I just almost had to have a talk with one of the trainers. I have no idea what the exercise is called that he was attempting to teach this little girl, but between the two of them, there was more talking, and flirting, than training going on. What is the problem with that? Well, for one, it ties up the equipment, and another, it makes the trainer look like he has lost control of the trainee. Yes, I said it, control!
When at the gym, it should be all about the training, not flirting. Even though in this case, it was the girl, not the trainer, that was starting the “small talk”, but, his lack of control was obvious. When he would attempt to teach, the girl would dodge the lesson and move on to how she came to the gym 6 days a week or more. To be honest, that girl could go the gym 100 days a week and never get a workout! I’m sorry if I sound too strict, but, by not keeping the girl focussed on training, he was wasting her time, time she is paying for! Being nice is not a good quality for a trainer, a trainer should be tough, and rigid, otherwise it shows a bad example, goofing around, joking, flirting and anything else that distracts you, or anyone else, from the work at hand is just wrong!
One of the mysteries for beginners, and even some old timers, is the math of sets and reps. In this article, I will explain it, the answer may surprise you.
When you see a workout routine written in sets and reps, the basics are easy, one set is equal to one group of repetitions for one exercise, and the weight used for that set, like this.
Week one – three Bench Press
1 x 12-15 x 95lb
Sounds pretty simple so far, but what is meant by 12-15 reps? Is it just putting any weight on there, then doing 12-15 repetitions? No! When you write out your routine, you need to know how many reps you can do, MAXIMUM, for that weight. Lets assume that I can do only twelve repetitions of that 95 pounds, in that case, my goal is to do more than my maximum, that is how you get stronger, and you know when to add more weight.
The first week, all I can do is 12 reps, the second week, I should do 13 or 14, the third week I should do 14 or 15, then, for weeks four to six I would add weight, not reps. In the above illustration, 95 pounds, which is the bar, 45 pounds, and two 25 pound plates, for a total of 95 pounds. So, in the second week, I would use two 35 pound plates, for a total of 115 pounds, like this.
Week four – six Bench Press
Now, why is it I added 20lbs? Simple, if you can do 15 reps of 95, you should be able to do 12 of 115, even if you can only do 11, don’t worry about it, that is your goal, it is not supposed to be easy. As far as I am concerned, those little bitty plates, less than 25lbs, are useless, unless maybe for a keychain or something.
In this example I am using a standard 12-15 reps, this is a general fitness type of set, if you want to do more, for endurance, thats ok, just remember, it is the maximum weight for X repetitions, but in any case, I don’t recommend doing more than 15 if you want to get stronger, and then, I would use 15 as a warm up. A typical Bench Press routine would look something like this.
Week one -three Bench Press
- 1x15x45 (empty bar)
Week four -six Bench Press
- 1x15x45 (empty bar)
Of course you have to know what numbers to plug into this, if all you can bench is the empty bar for a few reps, thats ok, go from there. This is just an example for an average person, in average shape, your specific needs may vary, and as always, make sure you are healthy enough, talk to your doctor before beginning anything new.