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Top 10 Rules of Etiquette in Weightlifting

By Malia Warren

We’re in the habit of making the uncomfortable, comfortable, here at Lifting the Dream.

So, this week we’re talking about Lifting Etiquette.

What’s that? You didn’t know there were unspoken, yet highly respected rules in the weight room?

Whether you’re a seasoned lifting pro, or brand new to the gym, we can all benefit from a refresh on this. We'll start with number 10 but please note these are not in order from least annoying to highly vilified, as different things will bother different people more:

10. Don’t walk in front of a person lifting.

During a workout, like deep in the AMRAP, if you have to get to your bar and it’s the only path to go - fine, whatever. But if you are doing a strength bit before the WOD and someone is going for a lift, don’t walk in front of them.

Here’s why: it’s distracting AF.

A lifter does better with cues, most lifters have a cue to pick a spot on the wall and laser focus in to lift it. Some lifters don’t care about distractions, and while there is no official rule, it is considered discourteous.

Usually these don'ts apply for Oly Lifting, not Powerlifting

"It is considered rude in weightlifting to stand or walk in front of a lifter during the setup and execution of a lift. Be ready for some mean mugs and some possible unkind words if you don’t follow etiquette", says weightlifter and coach at Fortis Vita Barbell Club, Julie Bachman.

Also: it can be dangerous - what if the lifter drops the bar and you’re right in front of them? Or ends up walking forward to make the lift and you're *right* there. Just some Iron for thought.

FFS - don't stress out if you're on the other side of the gym from someone, but let's give the lifter a 10 ft distance, IF space permits, in front of their space so we don't throw off their focus.


9. Don’t put your feet on the bar.

Some lifters will kick the bar before the lift. Whether it’s a test to see how the bar spins or a nervous/reassuring habit, it’s actually a rule now on the platform. If you touch the bar with your foot while on the platform, you automatically receive 3 red lights (no lift) according to rule in the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Handbook.

And unless you’re using a personal bar, the rest of us have to put our hands on it and shoes aren’t the cleanest. There’s also some speculation that there are underlying religious and cultural issues behind why USAW added this rule in January 2019.

Rightfully so, in fact, Eastern European and Slavic countries find it extremely disrespectful and believe that it will bring you bad luck. Which brings us to the next bit:


8. Don't step over the bar.

For the same reasons you don't touch the bar with your feet, Eastern European countries do not believe you should step over the bar either.

To quote one Reddit user's encounter with a lifter from the Soviet Union, "Do not disrespect the bar, stepping over it is a sign of disrespect, the bar will remember and pay you back for it later"

Well, that's enough bad juju for me to not do it.


7. Load the Barbell appropriately.

Personally, I don't care if someone keeps adding 10's to load their bar while building. As long as it's not deadlift max day and you're hogging all the 10's when you could add 45's, I don't want to mess with your flow, man. If you are planning on increasing, you can grab the appropriate weights for your max ahead of time to minimize hoarding 10's.

ALWAYS load the bar biggest to smallest. 45's first, and so on down. If you start lighter, say with 15's, then 10's, then 5's, you will want to pull off all the weight on the bar (sorry #notsorry) and go with the 45's.


6. Ditch the Metal.

We're not personally attacking your taste in music here, but you gotta avoid metal. Metal plates. Barbells have literally been known to crack with the weight and force of having metal plates on them.

Plus, they sound super LOUD when they hit the floor. This is because they're not meant to hit the floor except in a deadlift touch-and-go lift, never an Olympic style lift. The difference here is that Deadlifts are dropped maybe 2-3 feet to the ground, whereas Oly style lifts end in the overhead position, sometimes dropping from 6-9 feet.

You can definitely use the smaller 10's, 5's, or 2.5's to add on to the already loaded bar, so long as they are not going to be slammed into the ground.

5. Don’t hate on the grunting/growling noises.

"Oh my gosh you scared me with that grunt!" - Literally, a person to me in my last gym 🙄

Yea, yea, yea, some of us sound like rabid bears when we lift heavy, but that is the BEAUTY of weightlifting. It’s actually a primal reaction – think of the saying “Bear Down”. That’s essentially what is happening in an effort to complete the lift.

If you’re not grunting just a little, are you even trying!?


4. Don't Slam Bars down.

Even if it's yours, it's disrespectful to intentionally slam the bar down after a lift.

I get it, you're excited. So is everyone else who saw the lift. We don't need you to gorilla slam your barbell down. Truly.

Some people do it out of excitement for making the lift (totally get it, friends). But intentionally slamming a bar down in frustration isn't the proper way to treat our friend, the barbell. In fact, it's against rule 2.4.3 and in competition to drop the barbell from above the shoulders. Instead, you are supposed to follow it down with control.

Didn't-Make-the-List-Side-Note: Do NOT drop barbells with 10 lb plates or less on the side. Hi-Temp (bouncy) or not, 10's are not made to withstand the solo bounce and will crack sooner than they should.


3. If you're not weightlifting, please stay off the platform.

This is equivalent to curling in the squat rack at a commercial gym. Surely, there are plenty of other places you can set up that aren't on the platforms.

If your gym has platforms, pleeeeeease do not put your rower or your box on them, or drag your heavy squat rack across them. They’re not super delicate, but also won’t last long if people set up WODs on top of them.

The platforms are made out of wood and are not intended to have weights dropped on them. In fact, the platforms are only meant to provide a stable base that absorbs the force of feet planting during Oly lifts. Generally, platforms are 4 feet wide, while the standard Oly barbell is 51 inches (over 4 feet) along the knurling so, in theory, when the barbell drops, the plates won't even hit the wood.

This *rule* is out of respect for the gym that put them in, as well as the lifters that use them to lift on.


2. Clean up your chalk... and your space.

Pretty sure this is a rule, like, everywhere. But especially in a CrossFit or Weightlifting gym: use the eff out of some chalk and clean it up after!

No Lebron-ing.

From your bar, your space, and anything you touched during your session. Unless your gym has a set rule against cleaning it up, this is a pretty well-known piece of etiquette.

Put the weight plates, collars, and bar away where you got them from. It'd be super rad if you clean off your bar, too. Lifting sessions are likely to leave behind sweat, chalk, and a little skin too, so wiping down the bar with a proper cleaning solution would be a nice gesture to the next lifter to use it.


1. Weightlifting is NOT CrossFit

Sure, you lift weights in a CrossFit gym, and it's probably CrossFit that got you more interested in being a weightlifter. (Thank you, CrossFit ❤️)

BUT, you have to appreciate, and respect, that there are differences between the sports. CrossFit is usually loud and fast, whereas Weightlifting is slower and quieter (you can hear crickets at our meets, they're the biggest fans for sure).

There is a huge culture of respect in this sport. We're talking about a sport that has been around since the ancient times of the Greeks and Romans. It's the only recognized lifting sport in the Olympics and as such, there is high level of tradition and respect surrounding it.

Don't take this as anti-social or let it deter you from joining the sport of weightlifting. In fact, weightlifting is one of the most open and accepting sports out there. These are merely manners of etiquette that go hand-in-hand with respecting the sport.

If you enter the sport of weightlifting, it is just asked that you enter with humility and respect for the athletes already in the game. Be sure to listen to advice from your USAW coach, and respect the decisions of the judges at all meets. Most importantly - have fun! Make this experience your own and be proud of yourself for competing in one of THE oldest sports in the world.


If you have any questions or you would like to be a guest blogger, please email us at 


What are some other behaviors you want/don't want to see weightlifters do?


Woman lifting a barbell

Malia is the force behind Lifting the Dream and a proud mompreneur. When she's not lifting heavy weights, she's probably at the beach or Disney with her family. She is a Cali girl born and raised, with salt water in her veins and sunshine in her heart. She and her family now reside in Florida soaking up the sun, heat, and all the amazing outdoor activities this state has to offer.




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