T Nation

Machine Etiquette


Not sure if this is the right forum to post in since I'm a relatively new lifter (read: beginner), but I wanted to ask about a small gym incident today.

I took over the leg extension machine (I know it's not that popular around here, but I'm trying to alleviate some PF pain in my knees), when another guy came charging back saying he was using it. He had gotten up and walked away from the machine about a minute ago.

Did I err in taking the machine? My understanding is that people switch out of machines like that between sets, and it appeared like he was finished anyway. If I had stole his squat station and unloaded the bar, I could understand his displeasure...


Did he just get up for a drink of water or something? It pisses me off sometimes that I go to get a drink which is like 10m away, and someone jumps on the machine and starts adjusting everything.

Once I setup a bar for something (SLDLs I think) - there was only me and one other guy in the room - anyway, I went and got the bar, put the plates and clips on, set it up in plain view, he saw me do this. I needed a piss though, so I rush downstairs and take a piss, come back up, I was gone maybe a minute, and that douche is using the bar I just setup... apparently he can't use one of the other bars. I mean, I JUST set the thing up, surely he didn't think I setup equipment for fun, and I also purposely went to the toilet before doing any sets so he would realise that. Funny thing was he had a 1.25kg on one side to weigh it down (doing T-Bars), rather than sticking it in the corner like everyone else - it was almost worth it just to see him struggle to do that. :') /rant

I'll usually wait a few minutes before jumping onto something someone has appeared to finish using. Best thing to do is wait until they get off the machine/whatever and walk off, then if they don't go back to it and they're just hanging around/looking around ask them if they're done.


Thanks for the reply. I think I'll just ask people from now on so I don't 'step on any toes'... although that seems like common sense now. My bad.



if someone leaves the weight room, whatever they were using it up for grabs. If they left their keys or a water bottle and a towel there or something i will respect that and not use their station. But no matter what, if they are gone longer then 3 minutes, then once again, up for grabs.


Get bigger and people tend to stop "

" at you for much of anything.


Nah no worries man. If the dudes was gone for a minute it's not crazy to assume he was done.

I find it easiest to ask. Usually the guy who was on it, but sometimes even asking people working right next to it doesn't hurt either.


Agreed. If there is no towel or bag by the machine and I didn't see anyone around it at all then I consider it empty.



Words from a wise man. Who knows, he may even speak from experience.


BTW I know this is uncalled for but I'd strongly recommend that you drop the leg extensions for ass-to-heels squats. They are a lot joint-friendlier than leg extension which put your knee in a very unnatural plane of movement. If you are unsure about your squat form get some coaching.


I was doing decline in the Smith the other day. I had loaded 250lb on the bar, my rather large gym bag was right in front of the decline bench. I walk around the corner to grab some water (the gym is an L-shape) and twenty seconds later I return and there is some 80 year old bloke removing the weights. I go up to him and politely say I am using the machine (I always smile when I do this to try and not be an asshole) and he looks at me and says "oh you are are you?" in a sarcastic voice and then walks away without putting the weights back on.



One of many reasons I have for not going to a gym.


Makes sense - nothing was left, and he was headed to the other side of the gym so I assumed he was done. Learned my lesson.


lol, that works too. Hopefully that won't take too long... age 18 FTW.

Give me ~ 5 years before trying to take a machine from X though :slightly_smiling:


I agree with that completely... except squatting causes almost excruciating pain. I've been told that my quads are a mess (ie too weak), my IT band is like a steel cable, and my hamstrings are too tight.

I'm foam rolling the IT band, stretching the hamstrngs, and trying to strengthen the quad... but it's hard to find an exercise to do that doesn't exacerbate the pain.



One more thing, sometimes you have to watch out for others grabbing the equipment for which you've been waiting, so you can't always wait around forever to make sure.

Either way, if someone was still using the equipment and you didn't realise, anyone with some balls won't have a problem telling you, and if possible, perhaps offer you the option of "working in" - whether you want to or not is up to you (actually, most people I offer end up refusing).


Agreed on "marking your territory" when leaving pieces of equipment.

In your situation, OP, just say, "Oh, sorry, man. Didn't know you were still using it" and ask if you can work in.

No shame in thinking an unmarked piece of equipment is up for grabs, and the leg extension machine is one of THE MOST non-issue pieces of equipment when it comes to working in with someone. Only a douche would refuse to let someone work in when using that (so long as you don't go fiddling with the extension range and what not).

edit: damnit w00tage, ya beat me to it.


Thanks. I'm sure there are various other gym rules I'll have to learn along the way.


I don't know. My take is that if the guy wasn't actually ass down, straining away, lifting weight, he wasn't using the machine. Period. If he's getting a drink of water, he aint using it; if he's taking a walk for a breather, he aint using it; if he's shooting the shit with a blonde on a treadmill, he aint using it. He bought a membership; he didn't buy the machine.

Now if it were a a bar with weights, different story because of the need to set up the weights, bar, etc.

Maybe this is just my reaction based on my gym. We have afew members who try--try mind you -- to make a claim on three or four machines at a single time based on the fact that they are planning on doing a circuit. Yeah well that is nice. The busiest time of day. If you want to do circuits, do it when it's not busy, or do it in your garage gym.


Can you sprint? If you go full throttle for, say 4 or 5 times 100m with some extensive quad stretching in between it will be a good quad workout. In your case it would be advisable to run a mile or two beforehand and start the sprints from a walking/jogging state since your apparent quad/hams imbalance makes you prone to pull a hammie or even both.

Second, I would recommend leg presses with a high angle, since a low foot placement may compromise your knees e.g. higher risk for heels shooting up.
You can go as having the upper half of your foot actually off the "sled", which will in turn up hamstring recruitment but still hit the quads decently.

Hope that's any help.


Thanks a lot for your reply. My ability to run is strange; I have tested it a few times since my surgery/original injury; sometimes I can run pain free, and other times it kills. I, nor others, are able to discern any difference or imbalances in my running technique. What is common, however, is quite a bit of soreness in my patella tendon about 20 minutes after running.

I haven't tried it in a while though, so I'll give it a shot again. Thanks.