You’ve seen it written on gym walls…
Perhaps read it in an article talking about gym etiquette….
And maybe you’ve even heard it amongst the gym going community:
“Don’t drop your weights!”
But is dropping your weights at the gym really that bad?
And is it actually okay to drop weights under certain conditions?
It’s okay to drop your weights at the gym when you’re dismounting from a heavy lift, using rubber weights and there is adequate space for you to do so. You should always drop your weights in a controlled, safe manner, ensuring that you keep other members safe and unaffected.
It’s important to first have a good understanding of the type of gym that you’re in and the culture around dropping weights.
This will help you know whether dropping your weights is a good idea or not, and to what extent.
Today, we’ll be breaking down why dropping weights is even a thing.
And how you should approach it at your local gym.
Let’s dive in.
| Dropping Weights at the Gym Explained
Dropping weights at the gym is a slightly divisive topic with no real single answer.
The reality, is that there is no universal rule around whether dropping weights is ‘okay’ or not.
It really depends on the gym you’re at, the extent to which you’re dropping them, and what type of weights you’re using.
Whether you drop your weights or not is an important thing to get right.
Get it wrong, and you run the risk of causing injury, or wrecking your weights.
So, when is it okay, and when is it not?
| Should You Drop Your Weights – What to Consider
The Type of Gym You’re At
First and foremost, you need to consider your gym’s policy on dropping weights.
If you want to drop weights but it’s not allowed, you need to weigh up if you’re the right fit for the facility.
There’s a fair reason why some gyms have rules around it.
It’s loud, potentially dangerous (if not managed) and can make some new gym goers feel intimidated.
In my experience, the gyms with strict policies against dropping weights are usually the smaller gym chains.
If you’re at a point where you’re lifting heavy enough to justify a weight being dropped, it could be time to move on to a more advanced setting.
This could be a Crossfit, weightlifting or similar environment which has dropping weights as part of the culture.
Or simply a gym that has more space and isn’t worried about enforcing such a rule.
The Amount of Space You Have
There may be times where you’re extremely tight on space.
Maybe it’s gym peak hour and every single square inch of the place is occupied.
In this case, dropping your weights too abruptly may end up putting other gym members in harms way.
This is especially so if you’re caught in a congested free weight area with a heavy set of dumbbells.
Be smart and use your head. Even if your gym allows weight dropping…
Pick a quieter time where it’s not going to put anyone at risk.
How Heavy the Weights Are
Perhaps the most common time where it’s acceptable to drop weights is when they are extremely heavy.
For example – if you are performing a heavy dumbbell chest press as an experienced lifter.
In this instance, it is simply impractical to try and neatly control the descent of your dumbbells all the way to the floor.
Another example might be if you are completing a near-maximal deadlift.
In this case, you put yourself at hurting your lower back muscles if you slowly control the control the descent of the bar.
When you’re working with heavy weights, it is often impossible to softly place your weights down.
Instead, we recommend trying to control or slow the descent of your weights as they approach the floor.
This will ensure you don’t make other gym goers uncomfortable or at risk from a dumbbell flying their way.
Your Own Motives
This one might rustle a few feathers.
We all know that guy at the gym who lifts far more than he should be.
You know, the guy who groans profusely for every rep and throws weights around like he’s king kong.
No one at the gym enjoys working out near someone like that.
Don’t be that guy.
If you’re simply dropping weights because you want to get people’s attention.
To show off how much weight you’re capable of lifting..
It might be time to get a reality check on your own motives.
If you’re going to drop weights, keep it as quiet as you can, being sure not to attract any attention to yourself.
What the Weights & Floor Are Made From
Next up, it’s important to consider what your weights are made from.
As a general rule, rubber coated dumbbells and olympic bumper plates are safe to drop.
As they absorb and deaden the impact of the forces felt.
On the other hand, metal plates are not conducive to safe dropping without potential damage to the equipment.
This rule additionally applies to the surface you’re dropping them onto.
For instance, no amount of rubber padding on a weight plate or dumbbell is going to deaden the impact of concrete or wooden floorboards.
Instead, you should pick a spot in the gym that has rubber flooring and drop it there instead.
When I was a strength coach for a group of elite budding rowers, we were stuck with a concrete floor to deadlift on.
| Is it Okay to Drop an Empty Barbell?
So, what if you’ve got a perfectly absorbent rubber floor to drop your weights onto..
But you don’t have weight plates to load onto your barbell?
In this instance, is it okay to drop your unloaded barbell on the floor?
You should never drop an empty barbell onto the floor, as this damages the bearings and bushings inside the bar’s sleeves. Instead, make sure you have at least one set of plates on each side of the barbell for safe dropping.
This way, you’ll keep your bar safe and operating optimally for years to come.
| Dropping Weights at the Gym – The Bottom Line
Many gyms have weights opposing dropping weights for a reason – it has the potential to intimidate other gym goers, can be unsafe and is also quite loud.
Dropping weights is certainly okay under certain circumstances, so make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and execute the drop in a non-intrusive, safe way and you won’t cause any trouble.