How to Train in a Busy Gym


Tactics For Working Out In A Busy Gym

I’ll admit that I’m NOT the most “politically correct” member at my local gym.

No, I don’t spit in the water fountain or hang out in the doorway of the ladies’ yoga class drooling.  I don’t sweat all over the bench and leave behind a puddle of toxic waste for the next member to swim in.  I bathe regularly, use deodorant, brush my teeth before heading to the gym and don’t reek of stale beer while I’m on the treadmill.

But when it comes to waiting in line for a piece of equipment…I’m a barracuda!

In fact, I HATE to wait for people to get off of “MY” equipment.

So when you’re on a “schedule” you don’t want to have to be held up by the other knuckleheads who probably don’t have ANY plan, right?

Well, you wanna know how do I claim ownership of my workout zone without urinating around the equipment to “mark” my territory?

Here are 5 ways (with a few “not-so-politically-correct” strategies) that I manage my time and space on the gym floor…

Ok, this first one is a simple one…

Workout When The Gym ISN’T So Busy!

I  know, I know….DUUUUUUHH, right?

Hey, you know I had to throw that in there, right?

Obvious yes, but if you’re especially challenged at your gym, then perhaps you should re-examine your schedule and see if you’re able to go at lunch when things are a little quieter.

Throw On Your Headphones And Crank Up The Music!

This works great for managing your time in the gym since you won’t get lured into those long “between set” discourses on the meaning of life with “that guy” who seems to flap his gums with everyone in earshot of him.

But the other advantage of wearing your headphones is that people are less likely to interrupt you and ask if they can “work in” with you.

(If someone DOES ask…let them!  I’m teaching you how to do the best you can to “own” the equipment, but don’t be a COMPLETE jerk!).

Which brings us to…

If someone is using a piece of equipment you also want to use…

Ask If You Can “Work In”!

Most guys aren’t “Alpha’s” in the gym so when you simply ask “Do you mind if I work in with you?”, saying “No” makes THEM the jerk.

And let’s face it, not many people care to be thought of as the “jerk of the gym”.

You’ll get compliance 99.9% of the time and they’ll likely even cut their own sets short and move on to another exercise.

“Mark” Your Territory!

Although my Golden Retriever, Wrigley, has the right idea when I walk him around the block…I’m NOT talking about whipping it out and urinating around the gym equipment you want to use.

But there IS a way you can claim some real estate…

This is especially helpful if you’re using supersets in your training like I emphasize in my “Advanced Mass Building” program where you need to flip back and forth between 2 pieces of equipment.

Simply grab two of the gym’s floor towels (the ones you use to wipe down the equipment) and throw one over each machine or station you want to use just prior to your sets.

So for example, if I’m supersetting chest and back, I may go and throw a towel over the straight bar on the flat bench and then go and wrap another towel around the pulldown bar at a different location.

And I’m talking, I make it OBVIOUS!

I literally put the towel where someone would know that that equipment is being used…not just toss it on the ground next to the equipment.

Then at the end of each set on each piece of equipment, I put the towel back where it can be seen that I’m still using it.

Same thing goes for your other floor “equipment”.  If you’re carrying a water bottle and a training notebook, keep one at one station and the other at another one to send a clear signal that the equipment is taken.


Know why you see “no loitering” signs around businesses such as convenient stores?

Because it annoys people.

When you’re in a time crunch and someone looks as if they’ve set up temporary residence at a piece of equipment, “hang out” close by them – where it’s obvious that you are waiting for THEIR equipment – and occasionally look at your watch.

Now the secret to this is NOT to glare at them as if you expect them to just pick up and go.

No…what you want to do is kind of look around the gym as if it’s no big deal, but when they look at you, just flash a friendly smile at them.

They’ll usually respond with “Oh, are you waiting for this equipment?”

This is where you can come back with “Yeah, are you almost done?”  (Again…keep the friendly tone!).

The typical reaction I see?

They will shortcut their rest period and quickly knock out one more set and leave or let you work in with them during their rest periods.

Well, like I said, I never claimed to be the “nice guy” at the gym, but hey…it’s an (iron) jungle out there and you’re either a lamb or a lion.

If you’ve ever watched “Wild Kingdom”, you know that the lions are the ones who are licking their chops as they gnaw on their leg of lamb.

Have a great workout!

About the Author: Jeff Anderson is author of Advanced Mass Building and Optimum Anabolics.  Follow him on Twitter.

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5 Responses to "How to Train in a Busy Gym"

  1. Supplement Reviews:
    January 03, 2010 12:57 am

    I find it annoying to work out in a busy gym, im really not fond to have to wait inline to use equipment, let alone having it be all sweaty when i get on it. I prefer to do my workouts at night when its not so busy and cooler out.

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  2. Carsten:
    January 03, 2010 12:59 am

    Ok, I have to say this: I hate people who put their towels around the equipment. Especially the ones pretending they do supersets on 2 machines, but they are basically wasting everyones time waiting for both the places while they stroll around the gym, talking about their latest “use this supplement” gossip. :-/

    Leave a reply  
  3. Jason:
    March 24, 2010 12:06 am

    I absolutely hate training in busy gyms. I always train either early or late. That way I can use all the equipment without having to wait : ).

    Leave a reply  
  4. Jason:
    March 24, 2010 07:06 am

    I absolutely hate training in busy gyms. I always train either early or late. That way I can use all the equipment without having to wait : ).

    Leave a reply  
  5. Sdgsdgsdgsg:
    December 04, 2010 11:45 am

    what does ‘work in’ mean? you switch off with them for a certain amount of time? one of you just leaves? or what?

    Leave a reply  

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