Do you go to a public gym to exercise? If that’s the case, I’m sure this sounds familiar.
You’ve prepared your workout and are ready to go. You already know what exercises you’ll do, in what order you’ll do them, and what different gym equipment you’ll need.
But then something occurs. Someone is using the equipment you require!
What are your options now? Is it worth it to wait for them to finish? Do you want to skip that exercise and return to it later in the workout? Replace it with a different activity?
I believe the best way to address this issue is to show you how I approach this typical scenario.
Inquire as to how many sets are still available.
The first question I always ask is how many sets the person has remaining.
Here are two suggestions if you’re going to do it:
Tip #1: Always wait until someone has completed a set before approaching them. Never inquire during a performance. That’s the absolute worst.
Tip #2: Give the person some space after you’ve asked them to do their next set/s. Avoid hovering over them or making them feel pressured. That’s quite inconvenient.
What occurs next is determined by how many sets the user claims to have to remain.
- If they say there are just one or two sets left – I’ll wait until they’re done. It’s not a problem because I’m already resting for a few minutes between activities. Even if they have more sets but look to be moving through them fast, I’ll sometimes wait. In this manner, I can use the equipment I require to complete the workout in the order I expected. Even if it takes waiting a few minutes longer, that’s my preferable conclusion in this case.
- If they claim to have three or more sets left – I’ll occasionally inquire if I may work in (or they’ll ask me first). If it’s plate-loaded and it appears that we’ll be using wildly disparate amounts of weight, I’m not interested. However, if it seems that it can be done without too much adjusting, I’ll work in and go out of my way to do as much of the adjusting as possible. Also, if two or more people are using the equipment and each has three or more sets left, no thanks. I’m not even going to inquire.
It is recommended that you skip it and return to it later.
This means I’ll go on to another exercise in my training schedule before returning to this one.
It should be replaced.
This involves substituting another identical exercise for the one I was scheduled to undertake while maintaining the overall order.
This section can be a little tricky because it is dependent on the activity and the rest of the program.
For example, if there’s a workout I want to perform but don’t want to replace, I’ll consider rearranging the order to complete it.
This could be because it’s an activity I’m mainly focused on improving at the time, or because I’m uncomfortable with the alternatives (e.g., similar workouts may cause pain, but this one does not), or for any other reason.
It’s worth noting that I said “consider” altering the order because it’s not always the greatest option.
Specific exercises, such as hard squats and deadlifts, are less amenable to being moved to a later point in the program or won’t fit as well when done after certain other exercises (e.g., bench pressing after cable flies).
So, if an activity is something I genuinely want to perform, and I don’t mind adjusting to a later point in the workout, I’ll do it.
On the other hand, transferring it is a problem, or if it’s an activity I don’t mind replacing – I’ll substitute something similar. It’s as easy as swapping out a row for another row, an incline press for another incline press, a biceps curl for another biceps curl, etc.
Plan C and Plan D Have a Problem
Now, assuming you’re training to gain muscle and strength, both of these approaches have the potential to throw off some aspects of your routine.
Which throws off the consistency of your week-to-week activities.
This can hinder your success in the short run.
If you complete the exercise later in the workout than you typically would, your performance on that activity will most likely suffer.
Furthermore, practicing a different exercise will undoubtedly influence your progress with the original activity (temporarily).
It’s not too late, mainly if these choices are only utilized seldom.
It’s not a big deal in that case. You’re going to be okay.
However, suppose you’re frequently changing the order of exercises in your program or completing a different workout than you anticipated. In that case, the effects on advancement (and your ability to track progression effectively) will be more noticeable.
Consider that for a moment.
This would be similar to a subtle form of the myth-based concept of “muscle confusion,” You modify your routine unnecessarily every week to “shock your body” or something like that.
Granted, the logic is sounder in this scenario, but the consequences for your advancement would be the same.
For the reasons stated above, and as much as it hurts me to make any human contact at the gym, I opt for Plan A (wait) or Plan B (work in) as frequently as possible.
Plan C (returning to it later) and Plan D (replacing it) are therefore saved for the times when those preferred options aren’t feasible.