T Nation

Giving Advice?

do you guys correct people when you see them at the gym doing exercises wrong? it seems everywhere i look theres someone doing exercises wrong. i mean i could spend my entire session just correcting peoples foot position on the bench press, and today i saw a kid who was using a machine for benching and he wasnt even bringing it to his chest…then theres the row guys leaning back like Neo in the Matrix.

anyway, i know if i was doing something wrong and someone corrected me i would appreciate it but i dont want to seem like some pompous asshole who knows everything about lifting when im sure i have poor form on more than one exercise myself.

so what do you guys do? keep your mouth shut or try to help?

Keep your mouth shut unless what they are doing is going to put them in immediate danger. Go there to lift and not teach.

Yup, no one in the gym wants advice. I’m convinced of it now. I’ve tried, many a time, and it never is more than a waste of my breath.

Agreed, most “help” is received with anger and will most definitely NOT make you any friends.

If you honestly are concerned, maybe tip a trainer off that they are potentially hurting themselves and have them bring it up as they are an employee of the gym and hold a little more position than you do.

I’d say 50% of the guys who bench do it “wrong” They raise their knees to their chest WHILE benching, they have bad form, bounce it off their chest, only bring it half way down… whatever… Let your gains do the talking. Perhaps they will come to you asking you how you did it and then you have earned the right to dispense information.

My gym makes money off its personal trainers as well as the gym fees.

I would consider it wrong to start giving free advice when the gym is expecting to turn a profit from their own professionals.

Even though the professionals are getting people to do bosu ball squats and shit it is still a small business and I ain’t going to fuck with them.

The squat rack is usually free so all is fair.

I do cringe when I see guys ‘squatting’ with a rounded back but they are all using light enough weights I don’t think they’ll cause any permanent damage.

I expect people not to try helping me unless I ask them, and I feel it should be the same for them. In other words, live and let live.

Hell, I lift at home now and I still get people trying to tell me what to do every once in a while.

The person will think what you say is as stupid as how stupid you think what they are doing is anyway, and who knows, they could be right.

[quote]LiveFromThe781 wrote:
do you guys correct people when you see them at the gym doing exercises wrong? it seems everywhere i look theres someone doing exercises wrong. i mean i could spend my entire session just correcting peoples foot position on the bench press, and today i saw a kid who was using a machine for benching and he wasnt even bringing it to his chest…then theres the row guys leaning back like Neo in the Matrix.

anyway, i know if i was doing something wrong and someone corrected me i would appreciate it but i dont want to seem like some pompous asshole who knows everything about lifting when im sure i have poor form on more than one exercise myself.

so what do you guys do? keep your mouth shut or try to help?[/quote]

Well, I am a trainer at the gym, so what I do might not be what I would advise others to do.

That being said, I generally don’t say anything unless either:

a) the person in question is doing something that might cause them physical harm (rounding back on squats or deads for example, though there aren’t a lot of people doing deads that I see).

b) the person is obviously a newbe (I can generally tell because I’m there a lot, so I know most of the regulars) and I sense just doesn’t know any better.

c) the person asks me for advice.

d) it’s a hot girl and I just want an excuse to talk to her. :wink:

And even if I do decide to give someone advice I always ask them if I can give them advice before actually giving it to them.

I’ll say something like, “Hey, can I give you a piece of advice on that exercise?”

If they say yes, I’ll give them the advice. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don’t.

If they say no, then I’ll just say ok and walk away. Their loss.

Also, I’m much slower in assuming that someone is doing something “wrong” these days. There are a ton of different systems out there and they all have their value.

For that reason if the person is receptive to my advice, I’ll also follow up my “can I give you advice” question with “can I ask why you are doing that exercise like that?”

If the person can give me a good reason why they are doing what they’re doing, and obviously is knowingly choosing to do it. Then I won’t correct them. I might ask them if they ever do it a different way, but that’s it.

No never. I’m there for myself. I’ll only give advice if I’m paid for it, or if I’m sure that in about 5 secs there’s going to be a horrible injury.

I sure don’t want strangers correcting me. I’m sure everybody else in the gym feels the same way.

At my last gym people corrected each other a lot, but that was a community center with a fairly small number of regulars. It was actually kind of nice, and I learned quite a bit that way. But we all knew each other there, it wasn’t like the big commercial gym I go to now where nobody even makes eye contact with people that they don’t already know from outside the gym.

Of course, the big problem with advice is that there are a hell of a lot of people giving it who don’t know shit. Like the guy who told me not to take my bench press all the way down.

Nope… guys dont like it when girls correct them.

… its there loss… my muscles look better

Like many things, it depends on the person giving the advice. If one of the 150 lbs. personal trainers at my gym tells me to do something differently I’ll just nod and continue doing whatever I’m doing. They mean well but they obviously have no idea what they’re talking about.

However, if an experienced lifter hands out a piece of advice to me I’ll listen, learn and actually be happy that I was deemed worthy of a few minutes of their gym time. It would be incredibly foolish not to listen to people who are where I want to be.

I tend to avoid ‘teaching people’ but sometimes I got to.
I train at a university gym and you can spot the complete beginners quite easily; these guys can be worth talking to. They’re usually glad of someone to put them straight- providing you don’t barge in saying ’ Hey noob you’re doing that wrong!’

Last week I had to intervene: a guy (about 130lb wet through) was doing a version of DB rows using 5kg and 7.5kg DBs. OK the weight is nothing, buthis form was as bad as it could be, its difficult to describe but here goes: his back was bent so far over that he was effectively inverted. Think V sit up facing the floor instead of the ceiling.

Any how I got him to get his back parallel to the floor knee on bencch pulling the weight to his side without twisting. Also impressed on him its not the weight you use but how you do it thats most important, he can focus on more weight when his form is OK.

If I see him again I’ll check out what he’s doing, but like most here I go to the gym to train me not others. Once I’m done I’m usually happy to help.

I usually don’t say anything like the other day when I overheard this kid saying he was maxing out on bench. Did one half rep(which he couldn’t probably even do half the weight he was attempting). When the guy who was spotting him pulled the weight off him, he asked him why he didn’t go down to his chest, the kid replied “Cuz I don’t wannna stretch out my pecs.” I bit my tongue so hard it was bleeding, but I didn’t say anything.

The other day i was working in some squats with some kids cuz I didn’t wanna wait for them to finish. So one kid had his feet about 2 inches apart and his knees went out to his shoulders when he got to the bottom of the movement. It was kinda like a ballerina type thing. I had to say something before this kid blows his knee ligaments away.

I don’t think the kid wanted the advice even though he said he would here me out, cuz he kinda just walked away without saying “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.” So probably the last time I give advice. I’ll just let the trainers know when the kid blows his knee out and is on the ground crying and go about my workout.

I don’t respond to stupid comments made by people, and I usually don’t say anything when people are do these wierd made up movements or just poor form(with the exception they will imminantly hurt themselves). It’s none of my business and time is short in there. Not to mention it breaks my focus. But that one time, since I was working in with these guys, I felt it ok to say something. I’ve been through one ACL surgery…wasn’t fun.

I look at it this way, if I’m deadlifting heavy, and my back is rounded, I want someone to F-in speak up before I blow my back out. Sometimes I might do it not thinking about it, so I don’t mind if someone who knows what they are talking about says something to me.

Oh and I’ll always ask if someone wants some advice before I give it. I’m not THAT cocky.

[quote]tw0scoops2 wrote:
The other day i was working in some squats with some kids cuz I didn’t wanna wait for them to finish. So one kid had his feet about 2 inches apart and his knees went out to his shoulders when he got to the bottom of the movement. It was kinda like a ballerina type thing. I had to say something before this kid blows his knee ligaments away.[/quote]

Sounds like you just told a kid not to push his knees out to the side and not to squat close stance and deep, but I could be wrong.

I only give advice to people Im training with and thats only on form and even then Im only giveing the advice because I belive they would be stronger with said form.

so far i havent said anything, but its really tempting. i saw an old friend of mine’s younger brother there and i swear the entire time (60-90mins) he was doing curls. like i just wanted to let him know uh maybe you should be mixing it up there brah.

i guess ill just try to lead by example for the meantime. eventually it may dawn on people why theyre maxing weight on the lat-pulldown but still have a rectangular body. or why theyre getting pumps in their chest from doing rows.

but the funniest thing was when i went to fill up my water and came back to a guy staring at my log book like it was a piece of alien technology, i could see it in his face he was thinking “what…is…this?”

I don’t do it. The only times I’ve rarely done it, was when someone was doing something that clearly was going to cause impending pain or potential injury. And guess what, they didn’t like what they heard!
I have very little time to train, and move quickly through my workout. IF someone approaches me with a question, I always take time to give an honest answer, even if it isn’t what they want to hear.

In the gym, I would appreciate it if someone gave me advice on setting up the equipment for a particular exercise more efficiently, in case I’m making it harder for myself.

Any other advice better come from a guy who has the type of build I’m aspiring to achieve, or from someone who has successfully trained a lot of people to get that build.

Of course, I expect to be correted if I’m going to potentially injure or kill myself. I would do the same. The least I’ve done is offer to spot someone who looked like they were in a little over their head. I remember there was one guy who had trouble on an incline bench press who had the bright idea of tilting the bar to slide off some weight during a lift…

Doesn’t sound like that to me at all - but I’d be happy for you to prove him wrong.

Try close stance squats with your feet 2 inches apart and let us know how that works for you, ok? :slight_smile: