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My gym has a weights platform and bumper plates which are only allowed to be used on the platform.

Naturally, it seems logical that dropping weights with bumper plates onto the platform should be allowed in this area. However, I keep receiving death stares from other gym members. I go to a 24/7 gym and work out when there is no staff. I am a pretty new member and don't want to get into trouble. Do you think it is unreasonable to get in trouble for dropping weights?

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Please note that questions on gym etiquette are disputed to be on topic here, refer to the according meta discussion. –  Baarn Jan 10 '13 at 10:45

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

In a world with "Don't" signs everywhere, if it's a problem with your gym then there will be a sign up saying not to drop. All my local gyms have the sign, but they are upstairs of other businesses. They also have thick mats in the free weight area but do not have bumper plates.

I wouldn't be concerned with death stares from other gym goers if there's no sign.

I would however investigate whether dropping the weights is recommended for the exercise, as most of the dropping I see appears to be for attention seeking purposes. I can't recall seeing a little skinny guy dropping a 20kg dumbbell after setting a new max, it's always 40kg+ jobs by beasts followed by a very pumped prance around the gym.

The noise however is quite startling to those unaccustomed to it, so use rubberised dumbbells or bumper plates if there is a choice, and lift over the thick mats.

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I wouldn't just look for signs. If you had to sign a contract with the gym, read the rules, too. –  Baarn Jan 10 '13 at 8:44
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I've checked the rules and looked for signs and there is nothing about dropping weights. I was only concerned because all the other commercial gyms I have visited have a 'no dropping weights' policy. I only drop bumper plates on the platform (There's a sign saying that bumper plates are only to be used on the platform) and I only drop the bar when I am doing olympic lifts at a weight where lowering it is not worth the risk. –  Brian Jan 10 '13 at 9:03
    
Mark Rippetoe in his power clean video shows his students dropping the barbell (w/ bumper plates) from about chest height. If he's ok with it in his gym, then the owner of your gym might also be ok with it. –  jontyc Jan 10 '13 at 9:07
    
This is quite accurate. jontyc is absolutely correct. The sad thing is for people that are startled or turned off by this display of machismo will often quit coming. Or at the very least not enjoy their gym visits. –  Grohlier Jan 10 '13 at 15:09

I've seen gyms with bumper plates and a lifting platform, clearly designed and intended for standard Olympic weightlifting style drops from chest or overhead, next to a sign saying that one should always configure the safety bars so that the bar doesn't hit the ground. This would of course damage the bar, make a tremendous amount more noise, and increase danger to the lifter. What I'm trying to say is that gym rules don't necessarily make any sense.

It's perfectly reasonable to drop a bumper-plate-loaded Olympic bar from chest or overhead in a controlled manner while using an Olympic platform: guiding it down with the hands, making sure it doesn't bounce into the wall, and so on. That doesn't mean everyone at the gym will understand or accept this normalcy. It may even be technically and bizarrely against the rules at your gym. Whether or not it's rude is determined by how knowledgeable your fellow gym-goers are with Olympic lifting, which is to say that it defies all reason and pattern. The guy who doesn't unload his bench press, loudly sings along to his earbuds, curls in the squat rack, steals people's weights while they sit and rest for thirty seconds between sets, and gets his sweat all over the floor might consider it rude for you to drop a 1RM snatch or bail out of a failed max clean & jerk. C'est la vie.

Dropping a bar only becomes problematic when it is excessive or unnecessary. Letting go of every deadlift, including warm-up sets, is one example. Dropping a light overhead press is another. Slamming or pushing the bar to the floor in celebration is another. Dropping the bar should be done because it wouldn't be safe for the lifter to do otherwise, which is common in Olympic lifting and occasionally with other lifts. Dropping a bar to avoid the increased soreness that comes with lowering it as well as raising it is a fuzzy area that should take into account the disruption to one's fellow gym mates, but dropping a bar for safety is just something people should get used to as part of being in a place where weights get lifted overhead.

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Nice answer, I hope the tick gets transferred. –  jontyc Jan 10 '13 at 20:03

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