Dropping weights in the gym – should you or shouldn’t you?
It’s one of those never-ending debates, and one that has been raging on for years.
So, in this article I’d like to reveal what I feel about weight-dropping, and when you should or shouldn’t be doing it.
When is it Okay to Drop Weights in the Gym?
It is okay to drop weights, as long as you do so in a safe and controlled manner. That being said, this does depend on the gym you’re in, as some gym chains frown upon this. Certain gyms will have weightlifting platforms and use bumper (rubber) plates, both of which are designed for “dropping weights”. Realistically, you should only be dropping certain barbell lifts, such as deadlifts and Olympic lifts.
Dropping Weights Infographic
1. Does Your Gym Have a “Dropping” Policy?
Firstly, whether you drop a weight or not really depends on the type of gym you go to.
What I mean by this is that certain gyms have very strict policies around noise.
A prime example of this is Planet Fitness and their Lunk Alarm.
Basically, all Planet Fitness gyms have a very loud siren that sounds if any patrons are making too much noise.
The Lunk Alarm will generally sound if someone grunts or shouts loudly, and of course if they drop a weight.
Typically, a manager, member of staff, or personal trainer will intervene, and let you know that the noise you’re making is unacceptable and has set off the lunk alarm.
And you’ll be told in no uncertain terms to stop it immediately or leave.
In truth, this mainly has to do with the type of people who go to a gym, such as Planet Fitness, and other commercial gyms.
Realistically, these gyms have been created for your recreational gym-goer, namely someone who just wants to get into shape.
In fact, it’s almost as though cardio machines and very light weights are specifically intended for these patrons.
Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with commercial gyms, and I actually regularly go to one myself.
However, I know that they have certain rules, and keeping the noise down is certainly one of them.
Unfortunately, grunting, shouting, and dropping weights can be intimidating to other members.
Plus, it obviously makes a lot of noise, which may offend or annoy others.
So, if you are a member of a commercial gym you’ll want to check if they have any specific rules pertaining to noise and dropping weights.
Planet Fitness Lunk Alarm – TikTok Compilation
2. What Type of Equipment is Available?
Sticking with the subject of “gym policies” there could actually be equipment in your gym that tells you it’s okay to drop weights.
Now, before you get excited and start launching various dumbbells and barbells through the air, there’s a little more to it than that.
What you’ll find is that many gyms have a specific weightlifting platform.
This can either be a deadlift platform or an Olympic lift platform.
Both are made from wood and rubber, although an Olympic platform is slightly deeper.
The wood runs along the middle where you stand, whereas the outside of the platform, typically where the weight plates land, are made from rubber.
This means that if you do drop the bar then the weight plates will land on the rubber part of the platform.
So, this will obviously protect the actual weight plates and the floor from any damage.
Furthermore, some gyms will also have specific bumper plates, as opposed to the standard cast iron weight plates.
Bumper plates are made from rubber.
This in turn means that noise will also be kept to the bare minimum.
Obviously, weightlifting platforms weren’t created for you to simply throw your weights around.
However, you have the opportunity to deadlift some very heavy weights without having to worry about damaging the equipment, the floor, or annoying other patrons.
The same can be said for performing Olympic lifts, whether you’re returning the bar towards the floor, or you’ve failed a lift.
I will also say that even though your gym may have a weightlifting platform, you should still aim to lower the weight in as controlled a manner as you possibly can.
Realistically, the only time you’re going to drop a weight, say from above waist height, is if there is the potential for injury.
Deadlift Platform vs. Olympic Platform
3. Never Drop Dumbbells or Kettlebells
Personally, I feel there’s never any need to drop dumbbells or kettlebells.
In fact, in terms of dumbbells, this can be extremely dangerous, as dumbbells tend to bounce.
I cannot tell how many times I’ve had to jump out of the way, or protect myself, from someone dropping dumbbells during a dumbbell chest/bench press.
As I’ve mentioned, you should always try to lower your weights in a slow and controlled manner, unless you’re in imminent danger from injury.
Furthermore, most dumbbells and kettlebells are made from cast iron, so can be damaged by being dropped.
Plus, let’s not forget the damage they can do to the floor, or indeed, other people around you.
4. Don’t Be a “Dropping” Show Off
Something that I’ve often spoken about is how most gym members are really decent people.
I’ve previously spoken of feeling intimidated or judged at the gym, but in reality, this is few and far between.
That being said, whereas the vast majority of gym-goers are great, just as in any walk of life, you’ll still get a few idiots.
And many of these “idiots” simply try to make as much noise as possible in the gym environment.
This is basically a way of saying, “Look at me, aren’t I strong and great.”
Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’ve never groaned, screamed, or dropped weights in the gym.
Of course, I have, but it’s not something that typically occurs with every rep, every set, or even every workout.
For me, the noises I make are when I’m fatigued and coming to the end of a set, while really trying to squeeze out an extra rep.
And the only times I’ve dropped a weight is if I have failed a rep, usually of an Olympic lift, such cleans.
I’ll also admit to perhaps making noise when repping heavy deadlifts.
However, I’m still aware of my surroundings, and keep the noise to acceptable levels.
That being said, there are certain gym-goers who have to make a massive song and dance about their workout.
Extremely loud grunting with every rep and of course, dropping weights all over the gym, even when it isn’t even called for.
You’ll never know how many times I’ve seen one of these idiots dropping dumbbells after bicep curls or lateral raises.
If you can’t control the weight that you’re using for curls or raises, perhaps you shouldn’t even be in the gym.
However, as I say, this is usually just a way to make a song and dance, and for people to look at you and think you’re “cool”.
Trust me, if you’re dropping weights on purpose, simply so people will look at you, then you’re definitely NOT cool.
Have some respect for your gym, the equipment, and the other members too.
Plus, I’m willing to bet that none of these “idiots” have ever dropped a barbell bench press on themselves.
So, as you can hopefully see, dropping weights isn’t typically viewed as a good thing.
That said, there could be times, such as a failed rep, when you’re left with no choice.
However, this will mainly involve deadlifts or Olympic lifts.
Nevertheless, some gyms will have a specific weightlifting platform, along with bumper plates, which in truth can be dropped.
But, most commercial gyms won’t have this type of equipment, so dropping weights is almost viewed as a sin.
In truth, there is very little reason to ever drop barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells, unless you feel you may injure yourself otherwise.
Next, you’ll want to check out what I have to say about the potential effects of dropping a bench press on your chest.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.