This article is published in conjunction with Building A Great Lifting Crew — Advice for Hardcore Lifters, which covers the same topic, written for hardcore lifters who only care about getting stronger for powerlifting meets.

What I want to talk about in this article is how to create a training environment for lifters who don't place lifting as their number one or two priority in life, but it falls in the top 10 or top five. These people are a notch down from the other article. Semi-serious. There's nothing wrong with that. I think that's actually what the majority of all lifters out there want. They want more of an environment where they can go in, have fun, have a good time, have less stress, and not have it be a competitive, sporting-type of environment. To do that, some of the same rules apply. If you get a virus in there that's bringing everybody else down, you got to get them out, because it spreads. You want to have positive people in there who are trying to get better, and are having fun, and are working hard to get better. One person may not hurt the whole club if there are 15, 20. One's probably not going to damage the whole club, because more than likely, the 15 or 20 are going to end up bringing that one up.

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That one starts to turn into two, and it turns into three, then you've got to make a change. You've got to get rid of those people, because it will slowly infest everyone. If you have one, you have to watch. You have to ask if the other group members are bringing that person up. Now, in environments like I'm talking about here, you may not have everybody training together, doing the same exercise with the social dynamic I talked about in the other article. That being the case, you may have a group of bodybuilders training at one time, and a group of powerlifters training another squat at one end of the gym, and some benchers training on the other end of the gym. The way that you can make this more successful is just for everybody that's in each group to understand that everybody is there for each other. If somebody needs a spot, you shouldn't have to walk all the way over to the gym, and say, "Hey, can you come give me a spot?" Everybody in each one of these groups should be looking up while they are resting for their sets to see if everybody else is okay, taken care of, or need a spot.


There is a lot of nonverbal communication that happens in this type of group environment, where there needs to be some type of social awareness with all the lifters that are in the gym. You should know when another member of the group needs help. Or maybe these guys over here are working up and they're going to do a strip set, and they need somebody to help pull them down. Then you work together to figure out when the set can happen without screwing up someone else's training session. The other thing is, in a group like this or a club like this, make sure that people understand basic ethics of how to be in a gym. When you're in a dirty, rough, hardcore gym, there is a lot of latitude on what you can get away with and what you can't get away with. Some places are fine if you're spitting on the floor. Other places are not. It just all depends. You can figure all those little things out. Some places are fine with people having spit cups. Other people are not fine having spit cups. I've seen just about every fucking thing you can imagine in a gym, and it be totally okay.

There are some things that are just totally not fucking okay. Those include walking in front of somebody when they're getting ready to squat, especially if they're in their fucking set. You don't fucking walk in front of them. Ever. There's no circumstance ever where that's acceptable. If someone does that, they need to be called the fuck out and be told to never, ever do that. The deadlift would be the same way. You don't fucking walk in front of somebody. I would say that would probably apply to any strongman events as well. Let's just say, lifting anything that's really fucking heavy, you don't walk in front of the fucking person. Not while they're doing their set. You just don't do it. It's unacceptable.

Another one is asking people questions between their fucking sets. You can ask questions, and you can talk, and all that other bullshit, between exercises, but if you're doing a fucking movement—and I don't care if it's bodybuilding-related or if it's the squat, bench, or deadlift, or any type of powerlifting movement—once you get into the work sets, you work. You don't fucking have dialogue about what you're going to do for dinner that night. The only dialogue you're having should be specific to the cuing of the lift that you're doing. You really even shouldn't be able to talk, because you're breathing so hard, or you're focusing on what you need to be able to do to get ready for the next set. If somebody comes up in between sets and starts trying to have dialogue, they can't do that. There needs to be fucking signs posted. Shut the fuck up between sets. That kind of shit can't happen. Now, if it's between an exercise, that's different, because you have to set other shit up. I still don't like it, but it's different.

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To go along with this, once any working starts, the more serious the lifters are, the less they want you to fucking talk to them while they're training. You can train with them, and you can be training partners with them, but if you want to be training partners, and you start getting into the heavy shit, shut the fuck up and work. After the training's done, sit down and talk for two hours. You're done. Relax. Enjoy. Have fun. You get into the accessories and the shit that really doesn't make that much difference. You can fuck around and talk, do whatever you want to do. Just keep the work going during the heavy stuff that needs to be treated with respect. The weights need to be treated with respect and the lifters need to be treated with respect.

Always be on time. If you're not going to be on time, let your training partners know. Call them. Send them a text. Do whatever you need to do. They don't want to sit there for 45 minutes, waiting to see if you're going to show up, and then you don't fucking show up. If you're going to be late, let them know. It is best just to be on time but shit happens. It all depends what time you're training. Once again, it comes down to basic respect. If you can give respect to your training partners and your lifts, everything else will fall into place.