Gym politics - advice sought

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mjpbgtd
mjpbgtd Posts: 115 Member
I go to a gym (a particular gym) twice a week, the rest of the week I go to another location. I was there waiting for the squat cage to clear when the 'alpha' of the gym started talking to me. Let me explain what I mean by 'alpha' - I have a feeling every gym has these guys but just to be clear. He's a very tall, very strong older gentleman - the granddaddy of the gym. He's told me he's been lifting for 30 years and that he is a competitive weightlifter. He's the guy that the younger pups :) slink up to for approval and advice. He's a little aloof, very opinionated but he was very polite (if a little patronizing to me). In other words, our interaction was pleasant and it was clear that he was 'doing me a favor' by taking time to help me out.

Here's my problem. His advice was contrary to what I've read and seen on this forum and Mark Ripptoe's amazingly detailed and precise 'Starting Strength'.

Here's what I mean:
Squats - Alpha tells me to look up when I squat. Mr. Ripptoe says that's BS and proceeds to give provide a biomechanical explanation. Alpha recommended the Smith machine "for posture"... Ripptoe has some choice words about that too.
Barbell Rows- Alpha tells me not to pull from the ground but to put the bar on the rack at thigh height and pull. Which, if I read Mr. Ripptoe (and Medhi) correctly isn't a barbell row...
Deadlifts - he told me that I shouldn't use the bar because I was 'reaching down too far' and pointed out a contraption that you stand in the middle of and lift (not sure what it's called).

Anytime I offered a Ripptoe explanation for why I was doing something..."as I understand it, blah blah, blah" or "Um, I was told that, blah blah blah", he waved it off...

I did my workout - with him looking on from his workout - the way he suggested but now I don't want to go back to the gym... yes, I'm being a wimp - but I know that's probably not the right answer. It's hard enough for me to keep things straight so I don't injure myself.

Advice? Do I just do it "my way" and essentially 'diss' the grandaddy of the gym? Does it matter if I do it his way twice a week?

Who knew it would be this complicated? Any insights welcome!!!

Replies

  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
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    I go to a gym (a particular gym) twice a week, the rest of the week I go to another location. I was there waiting for the squat cage to clear when the 'alpha' of the gym started talking to me. Let me explain what I mean by 'alpha' - I have a feeling every gym has these guys but just to be clear. He's a very tall, very strong older gentleman - the granddaddy of the gym. He's told me he's been lifting for 30 years and that he is a competitive weightlifter. He's the guy that the younger pups :) slink up to for approval and advice. He's a little aloof, very opinionated but he was very polite (if a little patronizing to me). In other words, our interaction was pleasant and it was clear that he was 'doing me a favor' by taking time to help me out.

    Here's my problem. His advice was contrary to what I've read and seen on this forum and Mark Ripptoe's amazingly detailed and precise 'Starting Strength'.

    Here's what I mean:
    Squats - Alpha tells me to look up when I squat. Mr. Ripptoe says that's BS and proceeds to give provide a biomechanical explanation. Alpha recommended the Smith machine "for posture"... Ripptoe has some choice words about that too.

    Rippetoe >>>>>>> random guy at your gym. Period.


    Deadlifts - he told me that I shouldn't use the bar because I was 'reaching down too far' and pointed out a contraption that you stand in the middle of and lift (not sure what it's called).

    I believe that's a trap-bar.

    Advice?

    Continue to do it the way you believe is correct. Post some form videos in our thread as we have a few people who can provide you with some good feedback.

    If he says anything again, I would be sincere and polite, and thank him for his opinions but tell him that you're comfortable and confident in your current methods.

    You absolutely cannot let something like this get in your way.
  • mjpbgtd
    mjpbgtd Posts: 115 Member
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    Ok - deep breath - thanks. I think I knew that was the answer but I had to 'hear' it.

    Ripptoe vs. random guy - LOVE IT.

    Thanks SS.

    -M
  • TravisBikes
    TravisBikes Posts: 674 Member
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    Curious about the Rows though.

    I know there are different variations. But I moved away from the SL version of the rows.
  • Chief_Rocka
    Chief_Rocka Posts: 4,710 Member
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    You have to consider when he got his information. Gym anecdote is the definition of broscience.
  • mjpbgtd
    mjpbgtd Posts: 115 Member
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    Oh - I always wondered what constituted broscience. Now I get it.
  • taunto
    taunto Posts: 6,420 Member
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    I see this often except this isn't just one guy because where I am, everybody wants to be "helpful" (AKA, do what they tell you).

    I usually just say "ok, thanks" and keep doing my thing, ignoring them. They get the hint. Their opinions don't matter to me. We both move on.

    Once so far this one guy have taken it a bit too far. He actually came behind me while I was struggling with my OHP and started helping me lift. Now, when I say struggle I don't mean I was about to drop it it was just struggle. I asked him to leave it be but he kept continue pushing my arm to help me. I finished my workout (he only helped me with 2 reps since thats all that was left) and he started doing his Dead lift. I went behind him and started "helping" him while thinking of naked Claudia Schiffer doing nasty things with me. He turned around, looked at me funny and I said "what, I'm helping you bro. Don't be a pussy and keep lifting!".

    He hasn't bugged me since I poked him with the one eyed snake...
  • bostonwolf
    bostonwolf Posts: 3,038 Member
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    I'd probably have been somewhat less polite than SideSteel suggests, but that is the right tack to take.

    I'm a pretty big guy myself and when I'm in the gym, particularly in the weight room, I'm there for business, not to mess around. My overall vibe tends to convey that so i rarely get bothered unless I'm being asked for a spot (which I will always say yes to) or asked where I am in my workout/am I almost done.

    Our gym has a fairly small freeweight area and only has two real squat racks, so I don't mind people asking and most people don't mind when I ask how much they have left.
  • Martucha123
    Martucha123 Posts: 1,093 Member
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    I see this often except this isn't just one guy because where I am, everybody wants to be "helpful" (AKA, do what they tell you).

    I usually just say "ok, thanks" and keep doing my thing, ignoring them. They get the hint. Their opinions don't matter to me. We both move on.

    Once so far this one guy have taken it a bit too far. He actually came behind me while I was struggling with my OHP and started helping me lift. Now, when I say struggle I don't mean I was about to drop it it was just struggle. I asked him to leave it be but he kept continue pushing my arm to help me. I finished my workout (he only helped me with 2 reps since thats all that was left) and he started doing his Dead lift. I went behind him and started "helping" him while thinking of naked Claudia Schiffer doing nasty things with me. He turned around, looked at me funny and I said "what, I'm helping you bro. Don't be a pussy and keep lifting!".

    He hasn't bugged me since I poked him with the one eyed snake...

    LOLOLOL I sooo want to work out with you
    and I'm not affraid of snake :drinker:
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
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    I see this often except this isn't just one guy because where I am, everybody wants to be "helpful" (AKA, do what they tell you).

    I usually just say "ok, thanks" and keep doing my thing, ignoring them. They get the hint. Their opinions don't matter to me. We both move on.

    Once so far this one guy have taken it a bit too far. He actually came behind me while I was struggling with my OHP and started helping me lift. Now, when I say struggle I don't mean I was about to drop it it was just struggle. I asked him to leave it be but he kept continue pushing my arm to help me. I finished my workout (he only helped me with 2 reps since thats all that was left) and he started doing his Dead lift. I went behind him and started "helping" him while thinking of naked Claudia Schiffer doing nasty things with me. He turned around, looked at me funny and I said "what, I'm helping you bro. Don't be a pussy and keep lifting!".

    He hasn't bugged me since I poked him with the one eyed snake...

    ^ LOL
  • _SusieQ_
    _SusieQ_ Posts: 2,964 Member
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    I had something like that happen but it was one of the guys that works at the gym and also trains people. He suggested the same for squats, looking up, etc, where I was doing low bar squats that I had researched and researched via Rippetoe. So he "guided" me through the "correct way" and I finished my set his way. But then the next time I just went back to doing what I felt was right for me.

    Your situation does suck, with this guy being a big deal at this gym, but as the others have said you can't sacrifice your progress for the sake of someone's ego.

    Good luck!
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
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    Curious about the Rows though.

    I know there are different variations. But I moved away from the SL version of the rows.

    Rowing from the floor on each rep: Pendlay Rows
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlRrIsoDpKg

    Barbell rows:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri01R3STcJs

    If your intent is to do pendlay style rows you would pull from the floor.
    If your intent is to do barbell rows (not pendlay-style) then you may pull from the rack and as you are pulling heavier loads it makes more sense than to deadlift it, IMO.
  • ZoeLifts
    ZoeLifts Posts: 10,347 Member
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    Curious about the Rows though.

    I know there are different variations. But I moved away from the SL version of the rows.

    Rowing from the floor on each rep: Pendlay Rows
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlRrIsoDpKg

    Barbell rows:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri01R3STcJs

    If your intent is to do pendlay style rows you would pull from the floor.
    If your intent is to do barbell rows (not pendlay-style) then you may pull from the rack and as you are pulling heavier loads it makes more sense than to deadlift it, IMO.

    I've wondered about this in the past. I always had the hardest time with Pendlay rows because I would feel it more in my legs and hips than anything else, I guess I could never get that form down right. Eric Helms barbell rows look amazeballs, though!
  • TeachTheGirl
    TeachTheGirl Posts: 2,091 Member
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    If everything else fails and you want an easy out, just tell him the way you do things is how your 'trainer' wants you to do them and that you're accountable to your trainer.
  • ZoeLifts
    ZoeLifts Posts: 10,347 Member
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    OP, I feel your pain. I have several dudes that I workout at the same time with regularly that are constantly trying to "help" my form. I nod, smile, and put my headphones back in usually. We still all get along because they will eventually get over getting their ego bruised by not being taken as a high authority on all things weight room related by a girl.
  • caseythirteen
    caseythirteen Posts: 956 Member
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    He hasn't bugged me since I poked him with the one eyed snake...
    :laugh:

    Definitely don't let this guy keep you from the gym or doing the form that you feel is right and are comfortable with! He's only the "alpha" because people let him be. You certainly don't need to follow suit!
  • mjpbgtd
    mjpbgtd Posts: 115 Member
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    Thank you everyone!! I know you're right... seems obvious but I just needed confirmation.
  • chubby_checkers
    chubby_checkers Posts: 2,353 Member
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    He hasn't bugged me since I poked him with the one eyed snake...

    I sewed a roll of quarters in my gym pants for this reason.
  • RecoveringToHealthy
    RecoveringToHealthy Posts: 51 Member
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    If anyone wanted to help me "too much" I'd just say "I prefer to be alone" and they'd get the hint.
  • DaniH826
    DaniH826 Posts: 1,335 Member
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    Here's my problem. His advice was contrary to what I've read and seen on this forum and Mark Ripptoe's amazingly detailed and precise 'Starting Strength'.

    Anytime I offered a Ripptoe explanation for why I was doing something..."as I understand it, blah blah, blah" or "Um, I was told that, blah blah blah", he waved it off...

    Be less vague.

    Next time, tell him you learned these methods from studying Rippetoe, and if dude can come up with a better biomechanical explanation than Rip, you'll be glad to consider the value of his methods to see which one might be more beneficial to you.

    Because dude is so full of himself, plus you're in "his domain", therefore giving him anything that starts with "as I understand it" is going to get waved off, because in the universe inside his own head, he >>>> you (and anybody else working out on "his turf").

    However, the reality is that when it comes to serious weightlifting, like SS already pointed out, Rippetoe >>>>>>>>> any other random gym rat.
  • Sarauk2sf
    Sarauk2sf Posts: 28,072 Member
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    Locking so we can keep track of active threads easier. Please feel free to PM either myself or SideSteel, and include a link to this thread. and we will unlock should you wish to add anything to it.
This discussion has been closed.