Let’s talk about supersets, more specifically the “ideal” gym etiquette when performing them.
As you’re here reading this article, I’m sure you’ve performed supersets in the gym before.
Plus, if you’re anything like me, you’ve watched other people perform supersets too (usually driving you mad because they’re hogging all the equipment).
So, in this article I’d like to discuss the ins-and-outs of proper gym etiquette when using multiple pieces of equipment.
Here’s What You Should Know About Superset Gym Etiquette
Firstly, avoid supersetting in a busy gym. You should also be aware of other patrons and potentially be able to spot if someone wishes to use the same equipment as you. Be polite when approached or approaching someone else when discussing “jumping in” or how many sets remain. Don’t hog vast amounts of equipment in order to perform a massive circuit. And if someone else does this regularly, consider reporting them to gym management.
Supersetting in the Gym
You’re Supersetting in the Gym
So, let’s initially look at the “rules” for you perform supersets in the gym.
Well, in truth, these are typically unspoken rules, but ones that you should certainly follow.
If the Gym is Busy
Firstly, and I would think most obviously, if your gym is extremely busy, perhaps you should look at changing up your workout.
Look, I’m all for perform supersets, tri-sets, and full-on circuits.
In fact, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved away from out-and-out strength or hypertrophy training.
And I generally prefer to perform circuit-style weighted exercises.
However, I will usually go to the gym at a set time in the morning, which is often when the gym is at its quietest.
I seem to have found the perfect time when all the early morning trainees are finishing their workout and getting ready for their work day ahead.
Nevertheless, this isn’t to say that I’m often surprised by just how busy it is for whatever reason.
For me, I usually have a couple of different workouts planned in my head, simply for this very reason.
I don’t want to be hogging machines when it’s packed, plus I don’t want to be “resting” for 10 minutes between exercises while I wait for someone to finish with the equipment.
So, if the gym is heaving, think about possibly changing things up.
I’ve mentioned that these are unspoken rules, but this will very much depend on your gym.
It’s interesting to see what this forum user found at Planet Fitness about supersetting (and certain exercises).
Be Wary of Others Around You
Something that you’ll get used to in the gym is the realisation that someone may wish to use the equipment that you’re currently using.
Admittedly, I’ve always been a bit of a people-watcher, so I’m typically well-aware if someone wants to “jump in” and use the same equipment.
You’ll receive little clues in the form of the occasional glance every few moments.
Then again, perhaps you spot that someone has just used the leg press machine, done some Romanian deadlifts, and all the while you’re using the squat rack.
Something in my head will automatically be alerted, “Hey, this dude is training legs, I’m using the only squat rack in the gym, I wonder if he wants to use it too.”
Now, I know some of you will say that this may never occur to you simply because you’re so in the zone.
But, for me, I too love to be totally concentrated on my workout, but I’m still wary of my surroundings.
Furthermore, I’ve been a local at my main gym for over two decades now, so you obviously get to know people, and their workouts.
So, quite often I’ll spot another ”gym-buddy”, be aware of what they’re going to train today, so I’m on alert that they may ask to use or share the same equipment.
Basically, I try not to be a douchebag and I’m always aware of what’s going on around me.
Be Friendly When Approached
I’m not going to lie, but quite often I can see that someone’s going to ask me to either “jump in” or how long I’ve got left on the equipment.
And every once in a while I find myself literally praying that you’re not going to come over and ask me these questions.
In fact, I’m trying some made up Jedi mind-trick in the hope that they’ll go elsewhere.
But, as they come over, I can feel the frustration building inside of me.
I even say to myself, “Oh here we go, this person’s going to come over and completely ruin my workout”.
However, me being me, once approached I’m typically as nice as pie.
Then again, it eventually occurs to me that I shouldn’t be selfish.
That being said, this doesn’t immediately mean I’m going to yes to sharing, etc.
Let’s say that I literally only have one superset left to go, and I know it’s only going to take me 5 minutes to complete.
This being the case, I would generally ask whether they’d mind waiting, as I’ll be done fairly quickly.
However, if I’m halfway through my workout, I’ll explain what I’m doing.
Realistically, I’ll probably say that it’s fine for them to work in with me, although I am performing a superset or circuit, so I perhaps won’t be resting as long between exercises.
I also have to take the other person’s physical abilities into consideration.
What I mean by this is that I don’t want to be adding or removing weight plates in-between each set/exercise.
So, this being the case, the only options I have are to say would they mind waiting, or completely change my workout.
I’m not adverse to changing my workout mid-session, although it will usually piss me off to do so.
But, I will always do my best to accommodate other gym patrons.
The Best Superset Workout For Muscle Growth
Someone Else is Supersetting in the Gym
Now, let’s put the shoe on the other foot.
Admittedly, this is definitely one of my bugbears about the gym.
While I’m happy for people to jump in, change my workout, avoiding supersetting in a packed gym, not everyone else is.
In fact, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen ridiculous hogging of equipment and machines.
There’s always that one person that requires a bench, 3 different sets of dumbbells, the leg press machine, and a pull up bar.
You know exactly what I mean, they have literally taken over everything in the gym.
And to make matters worse they even seem to mark their territory.
Perhaps putting all the dumbbells in the corner of the gym.
Then again, putting their water bottle in front of their weights, leaving a towel on a machine.
In effect, this person has the complete opposite attitude to me.
So, what should you do?
Approach the Person & Politely Ask
In much the same way that I have been asked whether someone can jump in, share equipment, or asked me how long I have left, you too can do the same with someone else.
I will say that on the vast majority of occasions you’ll receive a polite reply, as long as you have asked politely yourself first.
Most people in the gym environment seem to be “good people”.
But, that’s not to say that you won’t be greeted by that one selfish person, who basically wants to hog the whole gym.
That said, if you don’t ask you don’t get.
So, swallow your pride (and your potential anger) and just ask how long they have left or whether you can use certain equipment while they aren’t.
Change Your Workout
I’ve already mentioned this, but sometimes it may not even be worth it to wait for someone else, or have expectations of them.
Look, you could be the loveliest person ever, but unfortunately this doesn’t mean everyone else is.
However, the way I look at this is that rather than getting angry, potentially feeling mad for many hours after I’ve left the gym, I just do something else.
Yes, most of us plan out our workouts, but as I’ve said, I typically have a few options in mind just in case I’m greeted with a situation such as this.
Swallow your pride, move on, and get a great workout in another way.
Report Them to Gym Management
I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t believe I have EVER reported another patron to gym management in all my years.
But, I guess that’s just me.
I would rather speak to someone else politely, but if I don’t get my way, I simply move on.
That being said, I know exactly how frustrating “machine-hoggers” can be.
Plus, this frustration can become increasingly worse if it’s the same person day-in and day-out that is taking up all the equipment.
Unfortunately, some people just cannot see the error of their ways.
Admittedly, this will always be a last resort, and as I say, it’s not something I’ve ever done… yet, but a quick word to gym management could do the trick.
You’ll often find that people react slightly differently to an “authority figure”, although I guess this does depend on the person in question.
But, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and perhaps a certain regular equipment-hogger doesn’t realise the error of their ways.
The Stand & Stare Method
Okay, not something that I typically do, but I know that I have subconsciously given the “evil eye” to someone doing supersets in the gym.
You know what I mean, you basically make it obvious that you want to use certain equipment that they seem to have taken over.
Constant staring, regular loud sighs, a roll of the eyes, and even just sitting right next to the equipment that they’re using.
Essentially, you’re simply trying to make the other person feel uncomfortable in the hope that they’ll give up and relinquish the equipment.
This may frequently work, but it also depends on the other person.
Once again, if this person is someone who hogs equipment and performs supersets regularly, they may not believe they are doing anything wrong.
Then again, they could have a sense of entitlement, and therefore ignore all your sly little messages.
But, the stop and stare is definitely something you could try.
Funnily enough, I have also discussed why guys stare at you in the gym.
The Most Scientific Way to do Supersets
Gym etiquette while supersetting is fairly simple.
- Be wary of others around you.
- Don’t superset if the gym is extremely busy.
- Be willing to change your workout completely.
- Don’t worry about asking or being asked “how long” or whether you/they can “jump in”.
Next, another potential gym faux-pas, discover what I have to say about dropping weights in the gym.
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.