Listen to Your Body

You must listen to your body above all else, especially in training and nutrition.  There is a lot of noise online and in the media regarding training and nutrition that is truly overwhelming.  And a large majority of this noise is hot garbage trying to sell you something directly or indirectly.  This is even more true with nutrition as we are told to avoid XYZ like the plague, then the very next article states you must have that same XYZ in your diet or you will die immediately.

A popular podcast I listen to had 2 guests in 3 weeks that directly conflicted on the opinion of how much coffee we should have as well as consuming nuts.  THe first said to eat all the nuts we can and drink as much coffee as we desire.  The second guest recommended NO nuts, ever and to limit coffee to one cup per day, at most.  What the hell are we supposed to do with these conflicting views?  Especially if we get them from the same source, in this case, a podcast?  Its one thing to present the information and let the audience make their own choices but when hosting "industry experts" with polar opposite opinions it becomes impossible to keep this crap straight.

At the end of the day remember the podcast host is booking guests that will help his podcast numbers.  I hope he addresses these conflicts in a future podcast because having these guests virtually back to back could not be more confusing.  Which is why you should only take in external information with a grain of salt as YOU can be the ONLY expert on YOUR body.

Always Learning

I do not pretend to know it all.  It is very important to continue to educate yourself regarding training and nutrition through whichever medium you prefer.  I read several articles per day as well as listen to several fitness related podcasts every week.  Some of this knowledge gained is very helpful and will become new things I will incorporate into my daily life.  Some is not, and are things I will completely ignore.

I take in all the information I can, but the End All, Be All is what my body tells me.  Your body will tell you if your workouts are actually benefiting you or not.  I may incorporate a new routine or exercise that I recently read about, give it a few workouts and see how it works out.  Some of these exercises get thrown out right away.  Some I tweak for a wheeler and they become long-term fixtures in my programs.  Same thing goes for food as I am always tweaking what I eat.

Some exercises I know pretty quickly that I do not feel secure or my body will just not stabilize to be able to perform the movement.  These are the throw out right away variety.  Other exercises may feel fine as I do them but I feel un-expected soreness in areas that cause problems post workout.  These exercises may go back to the drawing board for some tweaks to see if they can be done without resulting in pain.  If pain continues they just get thrown out.

My body has told my High Volume programs with light weights is terribly boring and unchallenging for me.  If I am not challenged, I am OUT pretty quick as I become bored and half-ass it or do not look forward to the next workout, AT ALL.  I like to lift heavy.  My body likes it as well.  Too much volume and I feel worn out.  Workouts should leave you feeling energized, not running on empty.  Too much volume wears me out so I have eliminated high volume work from my routines.

My body has told me that I cannot do incline dumbell curls with my arms extremely stretched.  This movement pattern is great for hitting the short head of you bicep, which gives you that biceps peak.  However in my case a few days after performing this exercise my left shoulder would have problems.  Problems that actually forced me to stop any overhead pressing until the tendons healed.  It took me a long time to piece these items together but once I stopped this exercise completely my shoulders have rarely had issues.

My body has told me it likes coffee.  I like the taste, it makes me happy to drink it, so I do.  Same with the occassional pizza or weekly double cheeseburger and chocolate shake from Culvers!  I like these things, my body likes these things, so I let my body have these things in moderation. 

What to Listen To

  1. Joint and Tendon Soreness.  Joint pain is something to very much listen to.  Are you working out too much?  Are you doing a specific movement too often?  Same applies to tendons.
  2. Prolonged Muscle Soreness.  Your muscles will get sore.  Especially as you perform new movements that may be hitting muscles that you have never hit before in that manner.  Prolonged soreness, more than 3 days, after a workout is something a bit more worthy of you attention.  
  3. Chronic fatigue.  If you feel generally worn out on a day to day basis, listen.  Something is afoot.  Either you are not resting enough with proper nightly sleep, or not eating properly, or both.  Or something else.  

As wheelers we need to pay special attention to our shoulders, elbows and hands.  Any issues to these areas can sideline us for weeks.  Not fun.  We need to ensure we are recovering properly.  Eat well.  Sleep well.  Drink enough water.  If these three are in check yet your body is telling you something does not feel right, listen.

Continue to seek knowledge.  For the most part the internet is an amazing tool for seeking knowledge, just make sure to listen to your body above any Tom, Dick or Harry who may be trying to sell you something online, on a podcast or on TV.

 

Overcome Sucking

I cannot understand how anybody can be bored, ever.  There is SO much to do in this world, and likely so many things that you are not very good at, that the ONLY explanation for boredom is laziness.

Want to stay excited and engaged for the rest of your life?  Find something you suck at and get better.  It is so f-ing simple, and yet so engaging.  I will mostly focus on fitness related sucking, but this applies to anything in life.  Lifting, Knitting, Shooting Skeet, Paddleboarding, Snowshoeing, Fishing, whatever.  Find something you are interested in but may not be great at and attempt to build up that skill over time.  That’s It.  That is overcoming sucking.

Joe Rogan has discussed a similar topic on his podcast that I completely agree with and that is we humans must have a struggle.  Battling a struggle keeps us going.  People with no struggle, essentially die off.  Its why the kids of extremely wealthy people are far too often complete wastes.  They have everything handed to them with every advantage known to man and have no idea what a struggle is.

The regular person equivalent of an over-priveleged rich kid is the person who constantly complains they are bored.  Bullshit.  This ongoing life improvement will give you something to be excited about at all times.  This will give you something to look forward to.  This will make you happy.  This will prevent boredom, forever.

 

Ring Pulll ups and Dips

A couple new exercises I introduced a few weeks back into my fitness regimen were ring pull ups and ring dips.  I really sucked the first attempt at these.  I can bench a lot.  Do Pull Ups and Parallel Bar Dips for days.  I really sucked at both of these the first try. 

 

Next Suck… Russian Dips

Russian dips are a variation of dips that are a build up exercise to doing muscle ups.  I saw these being done on Instagram and had to try them this morning.  I suck at them.  A russian dip is performed by starting a dip in the full extension, lowering yourself down as a normal dip into the bottom position, but then leaning back to have your elbows lower down to the bar. Once the forearm and elbow are flush with the bar, or flat surface, you lift yourself back up into a normal dip position and perform the dip.  This extra lowering to the elbows and lifting from the elbows is where the challenge comes in.

I will provide a video of me doing this in the future since I just re-read the paragraph above and I would imagine it is difficult to visualize this gibberish.

The challenge for us wheeler lifters is you have to use your core and lower body to counterbalance the process of lowering onto your elbows and then back out of that.  I cannot really use my lower body for this so I have to overcome the mechanical disadvantage at the bottom with a pulling movement to get back onto my hands for the Dip.  Its tough and a bit awkward but I will get this down.  I suck right now, I will not suck in the coming weeks.

 

Yoga

My wife has gotten more into yoga in the recent months and a big reason for this peak in her interest is the constant addition of moves.  I am a pure meathead so I am not into yoga at all, but the intrigue is understandable.  The better you get at yoga, the more advanced moves you are able to perform, or at least attempt.  Quite often she is falling on her head or losing her balance much to my amusement but the constant struggle and effort to no longer suck at these movements keeps her very enthused.

 

Conclusion

Find something you are very interested in.  Find something within this general interest you suck at.  Strive to get better at it.  IN the fitness world this most often is a new exercise.  Strive to achieve a rep, then a set of 5 an so on.  There is an infinite amount of inspiration for exercises to attempt on Instagram.  Just as there is an infinite amount of possibilities of things you suck at that you can overcome.

Prioritize Relative Strength

Relative strength for the vast majority of humans is much more important and much more applicable than absolute strength.  

Relative vs Absolute

Relative strength focuses on your strength related to your own body, more specifically, being able to perform numerous movements at your bodyweight.  Absolute strength does not care about how much you weigh, it is all about the maximum amount of weight you can lift for an exercise, think of powerlifters and offensive linemen.  While it would seem logical that these two would be linked, that if you improve your absolute strength on a lift that would immediately translate to your relative strength it simply does not work this way.

Relative Movements

The most simple relative strength test is the pull up.  Can you perform X number of strict pull ups?  This can also move into dips and pushups.  Those three movements are the starting point.  A guy who can bench press 415 pounds may not be able to do a single pull up.  Another guy can only bench 225 pounds, but can do 20 strict pull ups.  In this scenario it is also likely there would be at least 100 lbs separating these two individuals in bodyweight.

THere are very few times in your life where actually doing a max effort movement applies in real life.  Especially when you consider the positioning and setup most high max lifters utilize when performing a lift.  But I would bet every single person out there needs to move their body around using pulliing and pushing movements similar to pull ups and dips.  Getting out of a pull is essentially a muscle up where you pull yourself out of the water, then dip all the way up.

Relative Progressions

I am a lifelong meathead who has always loved pushing the iron around, and often going as heavy as possible, sometimes beyond.  Over time, this beats the living shit out of your body.  I always did dips and pull ups so my relative strength was quite solid from a baseline perspective.  What I did NOT know was the level of progressions that were possible.  If you do not believe me, and you can do pull ups and dips from bars, than try doing them on rings.  You are welcome.  This is a whole new world on rings and it will absolutely humble most of the strongest people on the planet.  I certainly was.  

Perfect Athlete

A perfect athlete would have a unique combination of Speed, Strength and Flexibility.  Along with a whole lot of skill in their specific sport.  But if you were to take someone with extremely high levels and scores on strength, speed and flexibility it would be HIGHLY likely that that athlete could be dropped into any sport and perform above average.  These are the types of physiques we should be chasing as well.  Think NFL running backs, receivers and defensive backs.  Think gymnasts and MMA fighters.  These are the bodies most of us should be chasing.  Guys with incredible relative strength along with flexibility and speed.  Not offensive lineman who can move the most MAX weight, but at the expense of carrying around an extra 100 or more pounds.  Not bodybuilders who cannot perform ANY sport at a reasonable level.  No thanks.

Getting Too Big

One major problem with bodybuilders, especially professional level bodybuilders, is their complete lack of flexibility and even relative strength.  Some guys in the gym can work themselves into a fury, setup on the bench with an incredible bridge and bench a house.  Yet they cannot do a pull up, their dips are shit, and in the case of many of the massive bodybuilders they cannot wipe their own ass.  Is this an enjoyable state of every day living?  ALmost always sore and probably too big for their own good.  And as a bonus when it comes to many day to day activities they are actually weak as shit.  No thanks.

Priority

Priority is an extremely simple thing that most people butcher.  When asked for a list of top five priorities from your boss, you now know your boss is a moron.  There can only be 1 priority.  There can be only one winner at the end of the day if you have to choose 1 person to eat over every other choice.  The same is true in training.  You can do a lot of different things that mix in max lift days and bodyweight relative strength days.  But if you have to make a choice of continuing to push your max XYZ lift up, versus no longer being able to do Pull ups or Dips or really anything with your bodyweight because you got too big or heavy, then skip the max shit because you may get absolutely stronger but at the expense of becoming a worse athlete.

Testing Strength Indicators

There are some basic exercises that all lifter should test themselves and re-test again and again on over time to ensure they are at minimal maintaining strength, ideally gaining strength.  It is highly important that we all assess where we are at over time as it is QUITE possible that a current training regimen you are on is actually hurting you more than helping you.  THis is often due to following a horseshit program that recommends WAY too much volume, in the 25+ work set area.

Sprinting is a great test, but that won't really be ideal for us!

There is no fixed rule on these, come up with your own test exercises, weight amounts and rep counts.  The weights and rep counts are not as important as the process of actually having some indicators and testing them out regularly.

Bench Press High Reps:  Be able to get 20+ reps on 75% of your bodyweight.

Bench Press Heavy Reps:  Be able to get at least 5 reps on 1.5 times your bodyweight.

Bench Press Max:  Be able to get at least 1 rep at 2 times your bodyweigth.

Pull ups:  20+ reps in one set of pull ups.

Military Press:    Be able to do your bodyweight for 10 reps.

These are just some examples I follow.  A rowing variation could be added as well as some bodyweight exercises like pushups and inverted rows.  Determine your exercises, set a challenging bar that must be met, then test against this bar every month or so to ensure your basic strength continues to move forward.

Eliminate Boring from Workouts

To have any long term success in fitness you have to find things you actually like to do.    You have to eliminate the Boring from your routines.  I enjoy lifting so many of the lifts I do I mostly enjoy going through the progressions each week.  But I also have items that I am not a fan of, for example, I have a hand pedaled ergometer that I use inside my house for some cardio.  I hate doing it more than one or two times a week.  Even watching Netflix on my phone to get through it has lost its appeal.  An able bodied comparison are Treadmills.  Treadmills are F-ing boring, why on earth put yourself through that hell? 

 

Alternative Cardio

Battle ropes and Kettlebells:  One of my favorite energy circuits is to rotate between battle ropes, go directly to some kettlebell swings, then rest for x seconds.  This is one rotation and I will do 6-8 rotations depending on the amount of time I have and the weight being used for the kettlebell.  This is a hell of a lot more fun than steady state, blow your brains out cardio and can be performed by most wheelers.

 

Medicine Ball Toss:  This can be done with a partner.  You simply toss a medicine ball back and forth for a bit.  This can also be done against a wall if no partner is available.  The body actually works much harder than you realize when throwing the ball as it is an explosive movement.  The body also has to support a brace when catching the ball that provides more work than you feel.

Some Able Bodied specific alternatives are flipping a tire, doing some box jumps, and one of the all-time great exercises, JUMP ROPE.   Just do a circuit through two or three things, take a scheduled breath between each cycle, and go again.  Time will FLY!

People quit on their fitness routine more often than not because they get stuck in a rut of ridiculously boring exercises like treadmills and ellipticals.  Things like squats, deadlifts and presses (bench, incline, military) are staples that we mostly have to perform.  But even those have TONS of alterations that can be done if you need a mix up.  There are so many variations to energy and strength work, even for fellow wheelers, that everyone should be able to eliminate the Boring from their workouts.  And I would suggest you eliminate this boring immediately.

Get Back On Track

Get back on the horse!

Coming off a holiday weekend is a perfect time to address this topic.  I understand you are tired, tough shit.  Working out a little bit tired this week is the bill you have to pay for the weekend of partying.

A lot of people do not have a problem starting a healthy lifestyle with clean eating and a regimented workout schedule when things go according to a routine on regular weeks.  What people do have a problem with is staying on track once something derails them.  During the summer we have a few obvious derailleurs with a 3-4 day Memorial Weekend, Fourth of July and Labor weekend at minimum that can trip up even the most devoted trainees. Throw in a wedding or two over a summer and the summer can turn into constant distraction from progress.

People come back from these weekends exhausted.  They eat too much, they drink too much and they sleep too little.  Do this several times over a summer and it becomes a perfect formula for fat gain.  Fat that many people worked really hard to burn off from January to Memorial Day.

This is also why the Thanksgiving through Christmas time is such a problem for people.  People will go completely off their diet and workout routine over Thanksgiving, then with Christmas shopping and other holiday season commitments they don't get back on track until after New Years when they have added 10+ pounds.  There is no reason why the Thanksgiving weekend has to turn into 6 weeks of sloppy eating and minimal exercise.  But the reason why this happens is so simple, people get off track then start making excuses.

How to Get Back

Go to the gym, tonight!  If you workout from home, then do that after work tonight!  It doesn't even matter if you normally follow a strict program, use this week to just do fun stuff you like at the gym.  Get back on a regular Strength, Conditioning or whatever your goal is next week.  We already lost Monday of this week for anyone extending their weekend that extra day.  Get moving today, break a sweat, do circuits.   JUST DO SOMETHING!!

 It doesn't even matter what you actually do when getting back on track.  Do something that makes you sweat, do it a few more times through this week, then hit next Monday ready to get back onto a more regular routine with body splits, power vs reps, whatever. 

Do not let aHoliday weekend set you back weeks and months.

Dumb Exercises: Lat Pulldowns

Stop doing lat pulldowns and start doing pull ups.

There are a lot of exercises that you see people doing in the gym that a lot of times are a waste of time or just pointless.  Lat pulldowns are not necessarily pointless, but they are way over-used.  People may get results from pulldowns but they are ignoring a better movement that the body is meant to do which will minimize the full potential of the movement.

As often as possible when performing a loaded lift you should be attempting to mimic a real world movement.  This is what your body will respond the best to as you cannot easily trick 1000s of years of human evolution.  Things like lifting a weight from the ground to over your head is a natural thing your body expects to do.  There are A LOT of exercises you can split this movement into that make sense such as a deadlift, clean, military press, etc.  That one complete range of motion breaks down into several exercises, or could be done in a single movement as a Clean and Press or Snatch.  This theory is exactly why Squats are nearly unanimously the exercise annointed as the king by anyone in the strength training industry.

In the Lat Pulldown scenario that true real world movement that your body is accustomed to doing should be pulling your body to something.  A Pull Up.  This is my major gripe with pull downs, there is already a GREAT, closed chain movement for it in the Pull Up.  This is the exercise people should be spending the majority of their Vertical Pulling time on, not the Lat Pulldown.

The general real world idea of a Lat Pulldown is beyond stupid.  In what real world setting would you PURPOSELY pull down as much weight as possible down onto your head?  This would likely end in a very similar manner as The Mountain's fight with Oberyn in Game of Thrones, a crushed head.  Not ideal.

A real world application would be lowering a heavy weight from above your head but that action would feel more like a push as you SLOWLY lower something from above your head.  Or the real world movement is pulling yourself up to something, again, the Pull Up.

The real truth when it comes to lat pulldowns is they are easier.  Pull ups are a lot more work, people don't like real work.  People like to use the Cables in the gym as much as possible because it allows them to look like they move a lot of weight, yet when in reality they probably cannot do 5 strict pull ups.

Do not be one of these people. 

Use lat pulldowns as a finisher or supplement to the king of Vertical Pulling, the pull up.  If you can't do a pull up, practice.  Start with hanging from a bar for a set time until you can perform a full rep, keep adding time.  Then move into bands or assisted pull ups, it will come with time.

Bodyweight Training 101: Power of High Frequency

High frequency bodyweight training is among the most tried and true methods of strength training.  Due to its simplicity bodyweight training does not require a ton of equipment; therefore it does not sell a ton of gym memberships or fancy personal training signups.  In fact, if a personal trainer would actually apply these methods a lot of clients would probably walk out as it seems too simple to actually work.  And that is the beauty of it; it is so F-ing simple to follow and the results are staggering.

How?

You identify 2-3 exercises, circuit through them for X number of rotations and that is your day's work out.  Then you rinse and repeat X days per week.  The overarching goal is to get to a certain number of reps for that workout, which add up to a goal number of reps for the week, which add up to a goal number of reps for the month.  As an example maybe you want to get to 500 pullups for the month by starting with 15 pullups day 1, add 1 each day over the course of 20 workouts in month (5 workouts per week, for 4 weeks), by the end of the month you will be doing 35 pullups in the final workout.

High Frequency?

Definitions vary, but high frequency means hitting an area 3+ times a week.  In the case of bodyweight type exercises it is more like 5 times a week as the tax your body has to pay from a single workout is not that tremendous compared to a max effort day of deadlifts, bench presses or squats.  You simply add a rep or two per exercise each day and the cumulative volume over the week forces your body to adapt.  And that is the magic formula, doing numerous sets for an amount of reps that is a challenge, but a single set is not grueling effort.  By the last set the difficulty will definitely increase but should still not be impossible.

Now go in the next day and do the SAME exact exercises, but add 1 rep to the total for each exercise for that day.  Do this 5 times a week for a one month.  

Doubts?  See Gymnasts

If you have doubts regarding this style of training being effective, take a look at gymnasts.  Especially gymnasts on the parallel bars and rings.  Gymnasts are among the athletes with the most desirable bodies from muscular and symmetry standpoint.  Gymnasts are properly proportioned with functional muscle, and of course, biceps that POP.

Gymnasts perform some accessory lifting but the meat and potatoes of a gymnast's workout program consists of actually performing the bodyweight exercises.  Muscle ups and handstands are a couple of the most difficult exercises to perform; these are exercises that I would doubt most bodybuilders or powerlifters could even execute.  Gymnasts do these exercises by the 1000s per week.

Getting stronger and looking better are almost always the primary goals of training.  And if girls want to lose fat the BEST way is by getting stronger.  If you pattern your goals around a type of athlete who would you rather look like?  

An impossibly strong Powerlifter who has amazing max lifts but is very bulky and possibly has a lot of noticeable body fat?  A marathoner who can run very long distances and has a great cardiovascular capacity, but no muscle tone whatsoever?

Not many people would seek either of these types of bodies for themselves yet too many people train in either of these manners.  Too many people either lift WAY too heavy, all the time.  Or too many people in an effort to lose weight do countless hours of cardio which rips away as much muscle, or more, than fat.

Closed Chain Rules

The last piece of this is the bodyweight exercises which should really be its own post.  For the upper body there are few exercises that are more effective than Pull Ups, Dips and Pushups.  And if you can do Handstand pushups against a wall, you are set!  These are all closed chain exercises which are MUCH more effective as the body was designed to do these.

A closed chain exercise can be explained as follows:

  1. In a Pulling scenario when doing a pullup we are pulling our body to something.
  2. In a Pushing scenario when doing a pushup we are pushing our body away from something.

This is why a Pullup is a MUCH more effective exercise than a lat pull down.  This is why a pushup is more effective than a bench press.  One negative with pullups and pushups is there is a challenge to adding a lot of weight.  We can add some but adding enough weight for a 1 rep max on a push up would be difficult which is why bench presses, rows, etc. are needed as well.

 

Conclusion

High frequency bodyweight training can be highly effective due to the cumulative effect it has on the body.  By doing A LOT of pullups, pushups or dips your body is forced to adapt.  And pullups dips and pushups work because close chain exercises are AWESOME.

 

Lifting With Injuries

What do you do if you suffer a somewhat minor injury?  As a meathead and fitness junky what the hell do we do?  The key focal point here is a "somewhat minor" injury.  I am assuming your limbs are still attached and nothing is broken.  If you have a broken arm and you are attempting to do max bench presses, you are an idiot.  If this is something more serious go to a doctor.  For the purposes of this article think of beat up joints and muscle pulls to body parts such as your elbows and shoulders.

I recently tweaked my elbow so I am living through this right now.

Day Off

When you first encounter something as I did with a tweaked elbow or sore shoulder I would take at least one day off.  I don't care what bodypart you had scheduled to train that day, if something feels off with your body, take one or two days off is a mandatory approach.  More times than not this will completely address the issue as general fatigue could have set in and your body just needs a break.  Some would argue that we should be scheduling in a week off every few weeks, which I think is plain craziness.  If I take two days off in a row for shits and giggles my workouts will be shit when I return.  

I heavily believe in high frequency training where some form of strength training and cardio work is performed six days a week.  Once you get into this regular routine it becomes a habit and will become nearly impossible to miss a workout simply because you don't feel like it.  High frequency is the cure for lazy folks.  But when you get use to this frequency taking days off is a form of torture.

Take Care of Injury

Assuming we are now passed the two days off and you are still feeling issues with an area you must begin some treatment if you have not already done so.  Rotating between heat and ice as well as various ointments.  And do whatever you can to increase your sleep.  If you are not getting at least 7 hours per night, get your 7 at minimum.  If dealing with an injury shoot for 9 hours if possible.  Sleep heals the brain and the body. 

Again, if this is something more serious go to a doctor.  I feel like I have to throw this disclaimer out there every few sentences because too many people are morons, the same type of people that sued McDonalds for having coffee that was too hot...

Continuing Exercise

If the injury is still lingering but you feel it will hold up enough to get back into some training I would go for it because that is exactly what I am doing right now.  If the body part can be avoided completely, great, but in the case of fellow wheelers the injury will be to a shoulder or elbow 99% of the time.  Here are some basics to getting back into the game.

Avoid Barbells:  Barbells mean heavy loads, even if a light load feels fine you may be too eager to load up after a feel good warmup.

Bodyweight Exercises:  I would highly recommend sticking to only bodyweight exercises for the first workout or two.  Pullups, Pushups and Dips hit so many areas and are the best bang for your buck exercises plus they should be forgiving to your joints.

30 Minutes:  When coming back from injury keep these workouts short.  Don't go over 30 minutes for at least the first two times before stretching this out.  

After three to four sessions following the above guidelines and your body feels fully back, go back to your regular routine.  If your body does not feel fully back, but you have had no setbacks, continue with the above guidelines.  Adjust volume as your body allows but continue to stick to short workouts with primarily bodyweight exercises until you have worked your way back to full recovery.

 

More Gym Douchebags

Every now and then I will post some gym rants that are less instructional/informational, nor specific to training approaches and exercise instruction/selection geared towards the wheelchair lifter.  Today I will jump into Part 3 of Gym Douchebags from the perspective of the wheelchair lifter or just a normal human.

There are some people at the gym that are either completely oblivious to Gym Etiquette or just oblivious to basic human decency and consideration towards others.  These people are either self-centered, selfish, inconsiderate to others or some combination of all of these.  In the world of a Gym I classify these people as Gym Douchebags.  These people either dress, do, say or emanate something that is annoying, distracting or inconsiderate to the normal humans at that gym.

In Part 1 I focused on the douchebags that leave their weights and equipment EVERYWHERE!!  (As Elaine would say DOUBLE EXCLAMATION).  In Part 2 I focused on people who do not unrack their weights, if you are strong enough to load the bar, you are strong enough to strip it back down.

Machine Hogs

Today I will call out people that hog multiple machines.  Training in groups is quite common and normal, it is even encouraged to have a gym partner to help motivate and push you.  What is NOT intended when you train with a partner or group is to use up multiple machines at once and cycle through.  And this is an especially douchy move if you are using up the PRIME equipment such as the Bench Press and Squat Racks.  These are usually somewhat limited in number per the amount of people that want to use them at peak gym hours.

If you are benching with a partner and the gym is busy enough where there is only one other bench open, stick to one bench.  If you have to adjust the weights for every set because your partner and you are at different strength levels, tough shit.  Do not be a douchebag and use up multiple benches to save you a few seconds between sets. 

Disclaimer:  Now if you train in the middle of the day when the gym is dead, go ahead and do a cycle through where each person flips back and forth as you are not affecting any others.  Especially on machines that are not always in use such as some of the specialized leg machines.

Squat Rack Shrugs

One night at the gym I was planning on coming in and using a squat rack.  My gym has an outside, garage area with two squat racks and a smith machine so I know I can always make small tweaks to certain workouts to get on one of the machines almost instantly.   On  this night when I enter the garage I see all three taken up, which was a bummer but I adjusted and flipped my workout order, no biggie.  However, it did not take me long to realize that the three machines were being used up by only three people who were rotating between each set.  These people were working out together and rotating between each rack, which had different weights, Heavy, Medium and Light-ish.  I start to get nosy.

This is extremely douchy no matter what these three jackasses are doing, but if they were doing Squats or Deadlifts or some advanced complex that was a mix of exercises that required the safety and protection of a rack, I could at least see their side.  No.  These bozos were using up three racks to do Shrugs.  SHRUGS!  Shrugs are one of the most over-used exercises in the gym.  People use them to build their traps and they get to put a lot of the weight on the bar so it makes them feel HUUUGE.  But I will let them in on a little secret, unless you are doing heavy deadlifts or heavy high pulls, your traps will stagnate.  Doing 10 sets of shrugs is a waste of time.

Once I figure out what they are doing I go up and ask one of them "How much longer are you guys gonna use up 3 racks for F-ing shrugs?"  I got a deer in headlights stare and then a response of they are just wrapping up.  If you encounter something similar at your gym YOU MUST say something.  I have learned over my many years of gym-time that these people do not even realize they are being inconsiderate to others.  Many people form their gym habits in high school or early 20s, and nearly everyone is a moron until about 28 years old, myself included.  Normal people that encounter this MUST say something for the greater good.

Benches and Squat racks are at the top of the list of gym equipment to not attempt some crazy circuit or complex as these are often in low supply and other people will get angry.  If you absolutely must do some machine combination do it on the weekend, or go into the gym at a dead time (in the middle of the day, or at the end of the night).  Do not Machine Hog during peak gym hours of 4-7.  And if you witness this behavior you MUST say something.