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Barbell Rules

If you’re like me, you don’t like power trip rules. In other words, rules just for the sake of having rules. So annoying, right?

I’ve always believed rules should be in place for a logical reason, and when the reason is explained clearly, I then respect and embrace following that rule.

When it comes to barbell etiquette, we have some important rules we want you to follow—not because we’re on a power trip to tell you what to do—but to keep you and our equipment safe.

Here are 10 barbell etiquette rules we absolutely need you to understand and embrace:

10. No Close Standers Allowed

I often see people standing intimately close to someone as he or she is setting up for a big lift. In a weightlifting gym, the rule is you’re only allowed to stand on a platform if you’re about to lift the barbell on that platform. What we’re saying is, if you’re not about to lift the bar, move out of the way. Akin to this, never walk in front or behind another lifter. It goes without saying, this is for your safety and the safety of the person lifting the barbell. Human and barbell collisions are to be avoided at all costs.

9. Strip Gingerly

When you’re stripping down your barbell, don’t let the empty barbell smash to the ground as you aggressively rip the 45 lb. plate off the bar. Instead, place one hand on the barbell as you remove the weight and gently lower the empty barbell to the floor. Letting the barbell smash to the ground is hard on the barbell, meaning we need to replace them more often, increasing our costs and ultimately your rates.

8. Keep the Metal to a Minimum

Adding steel upon steel is not OK. The general rule is, if you can throw some rubber on the barbell, please do. For example, instead of putting three pairs of 5-lb. metal plates on the barbell, put on one set of 15-lb. rubber plates instead. Similarly, hogging all the 15 lb. plates, instead of throwing on a pair of 45 lb. plates, isn’t cool the the rest of the people in the class, especially during a big class. Apart from the equipment hog aspect of the rule, dropping barbells loaded with metal is harder on the barbells.

7. Collars are Cool

Always use collars, especially when you’re going overhead. Sure, collars aren’t necessary for a heavy set of deadlifts during a strength session, but if you’re at shoulder height—fronts squats, back squats—and especially going overhead—shoulder press, push press, jerk, snatch, overhead squat, bench press, COLLAR THAT BARBELL UP! It goes without saying that weights flying off barbells is dangerous for you the lifter, and for those walking by or spotting, who could end up with a weight dropped on their foot.

6. Do Not Drop:

•Empty barbells, or barbells without rubber and collars on them

•DBs (unless they’re below the level of your knee)


•Metal plates


I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but let’s protect our equipment. And our babies.

5. Don’t be Shy

If you’re lifting heavy and there’s even a chance you could fail the lift, don’t hesitate to ask for a spotter. If you’re comfortable ditching a bar off your bad during a back squat, then double check and make sure you have TONS of space behind you.

4. Stop and Listen

When a coach comes over to offer feedback or advice, stop lifting and listen, even if you’re in the middle of a conditioning workout.

3. No Plate Collectors Allowed

Plate collectors are those who can be found with a set or two of 5 lb. and 2 lb. plates strewn about haphazardly about in their general lifting area. This is a tripping hazard, not to mention you end up hogging equipment. If you’re not currently using weights, put them away until you need them again.

2. Respect Percentages

Even if you think it’s “too light,” the percentages programmed for the day are there for a reason. Follow them, or if you’re confused, speak to a coach first before going “off program.”

1. Ask!

If you’re confused about what you’re suppose to be doing, how much you’re supposed to be lifting, or you have any questions at all, don’t guess. Ask. You’re paying good money to be here, so don’t be afraid to use the coaches.

Be safe. And take care of the equipment. And lift heavy!