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Gym Etiquette: Racking Weights 101

It's More Than Just Putting Them Away When You Are Done.

Posted by JCEarl - April 21st, 2014

Racking weight is not exactly the hot topic of the fitness/bodybuilding community; it is often a part of the workout that is either done nonchalantly as a transition to the next exercise or not done at all. However, this is a topic that desperately needs addressed. No, this isn’t going to be an article that just tells you to rack your weight (much like everyone else in the gym already does with their glares and quiet mumbles under their breath when you’re seen walking away from a set of 100 lb. dumbbells you were just using.) This is also going to be addressed to those who already do rack their weight and need some quick, easy tips to make the process smoother and safer.

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DO IT!

I know, I know; I said this was not going to be an article just telling people to actually rack their weights. But it also wouldn’t be a good one if it the subject wasn’t addressed at all. To those who find it the easy route to leave that barbell stacked with 315 after you finish deadlifting; what is this showing about your character? Cutting corners and laziness are not the optimal way to achieve the physique you may be aiming for (whether it is getting leaner or gaining lean mass.)


Second, you might as well get some extra benefit out of racking weights when done with them. If working with dumbbells, treat it like a farmers carry when walking over to the rack as an extra set to work on your grip. More often than not, grip is the limiting factor to performing heavy sets of pulling movements (without using straps), so you might as well get some functional training out of racking weight.

Racking your weight is also a courtesy to others and the gym you are using. Walking up to the leg press only to find that it has been completely loaded up with 45’s certainly isn’t something people enjoy (here’s where those glares and mumbles come in). So save the 140 lb. mother of two who is just trying to perform a good compound movement for her lower body the hassle of un-racking 1,080 lbs. (that’s 12 plates per side, math peeps) and just DO IT yourself.

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Procedure

This is quite simple. Whether you are using a barbell or dumbbells, carry the plates/dumbbells back to their rack taking the path of least resistance. Well, duh, right? You’d be surprised at how many times this is actually an issue. For example, let’s say Joe Big Daddy is flat dumbbell pressing the 130’s right in front of the rack of dumbbells. Meanwhile, Billy Buff Man is about to rack the set of 150’s he was just shrugging for sets of 10, but decides to walk right in front of Joe Big Daddy as he is finishing up his set of dumbbell presses. Joe Big Daddy has trained to failure and is about to unload his dumbbells by safely dropping them on the floor in front of him, coincidentally the same exact time Billy Buff Man is walking by. You can see how this would be a problem…just be smart about the paths you decide to take when racking weight to avoid confrontation and, more importantly, injury.


Technique

Really now? A technique to rack weight? You’re kidding right. Not a bit. There is risk of injury in anything you do in the gym, and racking weight is a silent killer. When picking up dumbbells or heavy plates, you should always have a safe spine and simulate a deadlift when picking the weight up. You should NOT just treat it as though you are picking up a wad of paper off the floor someone just threw at you. You should have good, safe form while performing your set, and the same should be true when putting weight away.

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The act of actually racking the weight has some inherent risks as well. Pinched fingers are probably the most common and most annoying of those. As common sense as this may seem (common sense isn’t so common anymore though, right?) when you are putting plates back on the power rack or weight tree, make sure your fingers are clear when pushing the plate all the way back on. The same goes for dumbbells. Take the time to make sure the dumbbells are properly lined up with the rack when placing them. There has certainly been a time or two when I have personally ended up getting a nice gash in a finger as well as bloodied up a rack and some dumbbells due to carelessness.


Even though there is definitely no groundbreaking facts or knowledge unveiled here (or even anything most everyone does not already know), I hope this serves as a help to those consistently racking their weight and quick reminder to some things many have forgotten or have just chosen to ignore.



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Why My Back Is Whack

Hello everyone! This being my first article to Muscular Strength, I thought I should give a brief explanation of what got me...

MEMBER COMMENTS

energon19

Thank you so much @jcearl 


This is long overdue IMO.  
The gym I go to suffers from a lot of problems in such areas.

1. Re racking the weights and in proper order. I sometimes feel like a labrador sniffing around for one dumbbell or even hooks for the cable machine attachements (imagine that).

2. Not using a towel (or cleaning up), specially on the leg curl and benches. People see me cleaning their sewat off of it but don't even bat an eyelid.

3. Putting back the cap of water bottles the gym provides. (Hello! Hygiene 101 anyone?)

and many more.
4. Sorry if I'm being crude but.... Nobody should hover around with their crotch in anyone's face when spotting. That's damn creepy


crood

best rack position... keep the weight on your chest.. it doesn't disturb anyone else there XD

sdavis

Between that and sweat all over the bench.  I mean, if you're gonna be a nasty d-bag, don't ask for a spot.  I'll do my best to drop sweat right in your face while you try to make a run at that bench press PR.  Clean that crap up.

Adawg38

Yup see this all the time. Every morning at 5am I have to deal with reracking someone elses shit before I can do my lifting. Bunch of slobs and lazy asses in gyms now adays but I do my part and am not afraid to point out anything to some one in the gym who should be doing the same.

Fox84

sometimes people just need to be confronted, in your case Scott,maybe everybody was afraid of this jerk and didnt want to say anything, but you took care of the issue and everybody was happy, and besides there is only one person who thinks your an A hole, lol or i should say masshole, who ever that mystery neighbor is, by the way how is Herbie doing?

Adawg38

I've seen a couple of those trainers at other gyms too @scott_herman. When they are done they leave all the equipment out and bolt. Sad thing is is that this isn't the only Gym Etiquette being violated. I enjoy putting my weights away because it becomes a whole nother workout. @crood at least you are hitting them legs harder right? At least after unloding the leg press some dingy didn't steal it from you.

crood

@adawg38 haha seriously if anyone would dare to step on that machine after i cleaned it up for like 20 minutes, i'd be killing them! you can bet on this XD

jcgadfly

So many of the world's problems can be solved with the maxim "Don't be a jerk". this one also, it seems.

Scott_Herman

I couldn't agree more my friend!

bigboss

There have been A LOT of times where I seriously didn't care and didn't want to.... and I still did it anyways. Normally it's never a problem but there are times I don't feel like it. But here's the thing, If I'm going to hold others to such a standard, I'm gonna keep it myself. There is no reason not to do it. We may pay to be a part of the gym, but here's the thing. You pay for the privledge to USE the weights, not to ABUSE them. And just leaving them laying around, where ever you please after your done, IS MISUSE of the weights. You are not the only one who would like to use them, you do not own them, you do not have the right to do as you please. It's respect for the weights, for the owners and most importantly for other people.

jmboiardi

JC,

 

It's about f'ing time somebody wrote something like this! This is a MAJOR issue for me here in Singapore. I actually perform 2 workouts every workout - my intended workout for the day and putting all the weights and plates away that everyone leaves lying around in-between sets. This aggravates the piss out of me because it is pure laziness and inconsideration on the part of the people doing this.

 

When I first started lifting 30 years ago at a Gold's Gym, the owner showed me around and made sure to teach me and emphasize with me the importance of re-racking the weights and not throwing them around. Later on I joined a World's Gym that was owned and run by an ex-powerlifter who was a total "snap-head" temper wise. He didn't care who you were or how big you were - if you didn't re-rack the weights, threw them on the ground, or left lifting chalk stains on the mats - he booted you out. After 3 strikes, you were gone for good even if he had to literally pick you up and throw you out. He would loudly declare if he saw someone breaking this rule (I apologize for the language) - "If you are strong enough to lift it, you are strong enough to put it back. People who don't re-rack their weights are either pussies or lazy fuck-tards, so which one are you?!!"

 

At the time, I just thought he was wound too tight from all the steroids. His gym was spotless and everything was where it should be. Now, I appreciate how he was and what he instilled in me and if I owned the gym I am at now, I would be like him and do the same thing :-)

 

John

jmboiardi

Exactly Emma.......especially unfair to people like yourself and very inconsiderate. Often times many women I have known have felt too itimidated to join some gyms for fear of issues like this which is unfortunate.

OmertA42

Our gym has penalties for that sort of thing. We scan in via ID cards, and if you let a non member in, or don't scan your own card, it is a $250 fine. Leaving your weights out, i believe you get a warning or two and then the same $250 fine. I admit i have left a loaded deadlift bar out before and got my first warning, but i won't be doing it again. It only works if it is properly enforced by the staff but also by your own conscience, and the fact is so many people do it.I bet if i got them to read your post scott they might see the benefits of a bit of an extra workout to put them away and then everyone wins!!

sdavis

Like the guys who stack 45's on the verticle post on the leg press.  Dude, I have to climb my short ass on top of the press to clear them.  I came in the other morning and there were like 6 of them on there, and a small older lady was like, I'd love to use the machine, but I can't lift that much.  It was all I could do to avoid offensive language while I cleared some d-bag's weights so other patrons could use the equipment.

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