Please Don’t Ever Do These 6 Things At The Gym

Before I started training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I used to go to the gym all the time. Congratulate me. During my time as an avid gym-goer and people-watcher, I picked up on a ton of rude, unsanitary, and obnoxious things people would do there (that they definitely shouldn’t). The unspoken gym rules that I assumed everybody would just know and follow clearly need to be spoken, so let me be the self-proclaimed hero you neither want or need but the one you deserve. Please, on behalf of everyone with a gym membership, NEVER do these 6 things at the gym:

1. Not Wipe Down Gym Equipment After Using It

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is more vile than sweating all over gym equipment and leaving it there for the next person to clean or sit on. The gym literally provides sanitary wipes, disinfectant sprays, and/or paper towels all over the place for this very reason… so you can wipe stuff down once you’re done using it. Like??? You have no reason to not clean up after your damn self. I don’t care how beautiful and fit you are, nobody wants to touch your butt sweat. Y’all are nasty.

2. Awkwardly Hover Around A Machine That Someone Is Using

You want to use the machine I’m using. It’s a good one. I get it. However, kindly calm the f*ck down and wait for me to finish… and wait somewhere else while you do it. Don’t walk around and circle me like a vulture, because if I’m feeling super petty, which I probably am, I might will sit there longer than I have to just to piss you off. Lurk from a distance then pounce on the machine as soon as I get up like every other normal human being.

3. Waste Time Chillin’ On Your Phone Between Sets

Aside from being petty and holding up machines for creeps, you’ll never catch me casually swiping on Ship or crafting paragraphs to people who aren’t even going to reply to me in between sets. If you sit on your phone for way too long during your set break, especially on popular machines, then you’re a bad person. People need to work out too. Stop being selfish. The group chat can wait. They’re probably going to ignore your text anyway.

4. Have A Phone Conversation On Speaker

I don’t know if you know this, but your conversation isn’t as important as you might think it is. Nicole was *such* a bitch to you at that party over the weekend and now you’re going to passive-aggressively address it. Cool. No one cares. Take your call off speakerphone. We’ve got enough sh*t going on in our own lives, and we go to the gym to distract ourselves from it. Invest in a pair of earbuds, hold the phone to your ear, save the call for the ride home, or make it juicy enough so that we actually want to listen to your drama.

5. Stare At Someone While They Work Out

Please don’t use the gym as a place to pick up dates. Please don’t hit on fellow gym-goers. And please don’t stare at someone while that person is working out. Please don’t stare at anyone ever. Your longer-than-acceptable glare is doing the exact opposite of turning me on. It’s weird. Stop being weird.

6. Leave Equipment All Over The Gym

The gym may be your second home, but it’s not really your home, so don’t treat it like it is. Quit leaving stuff all over the place. Spend $3 on a lock and use a locker if you’re going to lug around your belongings and lose them along the way. And when you pick things up and put them down, put those things back up and put them where they belong on the rack/shelves. If you can’t be a responsible, functioning member of society, do us all a favor and save your money on a gym membership by doing some at-home exercises instead. Thanks, and you’re welcome.

Images: Shopify Burst, Giphy (6)

Why Squats Won’t Get You Your Dream Booty, And What To Do Instead

Squats have never been such a popular exercise as they are right now. Every where I look, men and women everywhere are taking up all the squat racks and Smith machines just squatting their lives away. There are booty building guides that have you doing sets after sets of nothing but squats. And still, after all my time in the gym, squats are some of the most incorrectly performed movements I’ve seen, setting people up for injury. And even after all those damn squats…I always hear people complaining about lack of results. So what TF gives?

Let’s start off how I love to start off everything: with the basics, baby. The basis of the squat move is pushing your body away from the floor, extending up from the hip and knee joints. So, going from low to high. Sitting to standing. Sounds simple right? Like, Grandma Edna who is 80 can go from sitting to standing. Now add into that…

  1. The range of motion of your ankle joint, making sure that your heels NEVER leave the ground (and I mean NEVER, even if you’re doing a heel elevated squat where your heels are on propped on plates, your heels should not leave contact with the plates).
  2. Focusing on pushing your hips back as far as they can go (this will ensure that the movement is firing your glutes and hamstrings as much as it fires the quadriceps).
  3. Engaging your core as you lower AND as you rise.
  4. Flexing and squeezing your glutes at the very top of the squat as you stand back up.

It’s a lot to think about, guys, I know. When done correctly, squats are a fantastic movement for determining strength. I mean, it’s the cornerstone movement of many Olympic lifts such as the snatch, cleans, and jerks for a reason. It is a super effective movement for developing strength and size in your lower body…just maybe not so much for your butt.

Studies have shown that the basic squat is actually activating much more of the quadriceps than the hamstrings and glutes, the areas we really want to target. It’s no wonder that those who have only been squatting in hopes of butt gains aren’t usually satisfied with the results. Please don’t get me wrong, squats are GREAT, but for the purpose of booty gains, there are better options out there to help you achieve your goals more effectively.

Instead of squatting like a basic fitness commoner, a study in 2015 (and results I’ve seen IRL) have shown these movements to be more effective in gluteal activation during an EMG test: a single leg squat, a side step up, and hip thrust. I explain the correct way to do each of the moves below. If you’re a beginner, don’t add weights until you’re comfortable with the movements of each exercise.

Single Leg Squat

Single Leg Squat

  1. You can use the assistance of a TRX rope to help you move through this exercise.
  2. Standing on one leg, flex your other leg so that it is more parallel to the ground in front of you. This way it’s not touching the floor, so you’re not cheating yourself.
  3. Push your hips back and begin to bend the standing knee like you’re sitting in a chair behind you.
  4. Pushing from your HEEL, slowly push yourself back to standing.

Side Step-Up

  1. Stand right next to a bench or elevated step. The leg closest to the step will be the one working.
  2. Stepping laterally, push up on the heels to lift yourself into standing position on the step.
  3. Slowly lower, keeping your working leg on the bench.

Hip Thrust

  1. Lying on your back, place your feet on the ground, knees bent.
  2. Driving up from your heels (sense a pattern here?), lift your hips straight up into the air.
  3. Engage your core to stabilize yourself and prevent OVER-extension of the lumbar (that’s not doing you any favors, don’t be extra).
  4. Slowly lower your hips back down to the ground.

When it comes down to it, squats are a great exercise, they just aren’t doing exactly what you want them to. No one likes to waste time at the gym, so it’s all about figuring out which exercises are the most efficient in terms of meeting your goals. Try these other ones out, and you might finally get that Instagram-model ass you’ve been squatting toward for years!

Images: Giphy; Unity Intensity; Gfycat