A non-gym rat’s guide to the gym

Do you even lift, bro?

It’s 6:30 AM. You wake up and get ready for the day — psych! You’re already up and have just downed your pre-workout and are ready to start your lift.

You walk into the gym, head to the weight room and get your early morning workout in. Once you get back to your dorm, a protein shake in the shower is always the move for breakfast before class, but of course you can’t forget to do pull ups on your shower curtain bar because the grind never stops. In class, you tune out the professor to write your afternoon workout and when your day ends, you crawl into bed and fall asleep doing bicep curls because biceps never sleep.

If this sounds like you, this article can be dismissed because I can’t help you.

However, if you are a regular human being looking to pursue a healthier lifestyle with more frequent exercise, I am your man. Now that Spring Break is over, you may feel as if your hard work paid off and your beach-bod was a major hit down in Florida or the Gulf shores. But now you may be looking in the mirror and thinking about chiseling yourself for the summer season. While the new Athletic Complex at Wash U isn’t finished yet, deep within the pits of the current AC lies the weight room and your future rippling muscles. And while I am no expert, I hope to give you advice.


Times for gains

Let’s face it, whether you’re a first timer at the gym or a veteran, nobody enjoys being in a crowded gym. At any time during the day, you can always expect a representative from the Greek community in there. While there isn’t always a rep from each house, you can always count on there being a brother or two from Phi Delt present in a shirt that should be a size bigger, but they don’t make a size bigger.

Apart from these regulars who always have a presence, the gym is pretty empty during the daytime. It seems to be packed with athletes and professors in the mornings before school starts, and right after most classes end at around 3 PM. The best time to go to the AC is usually post-carbo load at lunchtime around 1 PM.


Have a plan

When you go to the AC, it can be overwhelming with the amount of equipment available. If you do some research beforehand and know what it is you want to work on before you walk in, you will know exactly what machines to use and it will decrease the amount of time wandering around and increase the time that you spend defining the mirror muscles (chest, abs, shoulders, biceps & triceps, etc).


Never feel embarrassed

Evan Nagel ’19 struggling with 5 pounders in public ’cause he’s proud to be lifting

I know how awkward it can feel when you max out lifting at a fraction of the weight the guy next to you is lifting, but know that he doesn’t care what you are doing. Nobody does. You’re in the gym to better yourself, so the fact that you choose to make the effort to be in there should be respectable enough. Even if you struggle to do a single push up, you are still one of the select few who decided to make the haul to the gym so everyone should be cheering you on as you walk in, and applauding at every breath you take.


Watch what you eat beforehand

Take note. A burrito is never the move before doing squats. Try something easier to digest like chicken breast or turkey (please nothing spicy, the gym smells bad enough as it is).

Xauen Zirpolo ’19 & Martin Goree ’19 demonstrate what not to eat (minus the orange, oranges are alright)

Clean up after yourself

It’s not the job of the gym attendant to clean up your sweat, tears, blood, vomit, or whatever bodily fluids you produce. If it came from your body, take responsibility for it and wipe it up. This tip mainly applies to those who leave a nice lake of sweat on the matts and benches, but it really does apply to everyone because it’s important for everyone’s health to not be swimming in other people’s sweat.

While this is an imperfect rulebook, I think that if you take head of what I advise, you should be able to survive the first day. After the first day, let natural selection decide if you will return. In the words of my roommate, a pre-med and a gym regular Martin Goree ’19 “The First Amendment allows for freedom of religion. But the only religion is the church of iron.” Stay strong my friends.

Washington University in St Louis