How To Do A Work-In Workout

You’ve taken your pre-workout supplements, picked your playlist, and know you’re going to mess up your training plan… just you’re getting ready to go, and every machine and set of free weights in the gym is occupied. What are you doing now? You could wait for things to open up, but who knows how long that might take. Or you could ask someone if you can do a work-in-workout with them.

For the unfamiliar, a work-in-workout is when you share weights or equipment with another person at the gym and rest while they do their sets, and vice versa. “When we talk about working, it’s usually going to be on the strength floor with select machines — where you stick a pin in a stack of weights — plate-loaded machines with barbells or dumbbells,” he says Jana King, Certified Personal Trainer and President of Lifestyle Coordination Studios in Los Angeles, California. “Because strength training typically requires about one to three minutes of rest between sets, it makes sense that two people could work on the same machines, alternating their rest and work periods, without one person experiencing discomfort.”

How to ask someone to work with them

When deciding whether to work with someone who uses a machine or weights you plan to use, King says it’s best to observe first. “Before you approach, watch the person make at least one jump and wait until they start pausing to approach them,” she says.

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If you make the decision to ask someone if you can break in, King suggests first acknowledging the person with an icebreaker before asking how many sentences they have left — a typical number of sentences is between two and five, she says . If they only have one set left, you can wait for them to finish, but don’t rush them. On the other hand, if you’re the person with a set left, don’t feel rushed, but be considerate of the person waiting.

If they have more than one set, King says there are a few things to consider before asking, “Do you mind if I work with you?” to make sure the workout works for both of you.

How to choose the right person to tag a team with

There are two important things about choosing the right work-in partner to get the most out of your time. The first is to estimate whether you can use the same weight and/or how difficult it would be to load/unload the plates so you can work in them. The second is to check the height of the other person depending on the type of equipment you’re using because, for example, you don’t want to move the height of the barbell in a squat rack up and down between each set because that wastes time and yours both workouts less efficient.

“If you’re the person who has the first right to the barbell or machine, it’s acceptable for you to refuse training in this scenario, but again, be mindful that someone is waiting and attempt continued use.” to five 10 minutes maximum,” says King.

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Proper etiquette for a work-in-workout

Once you’ve found someone to work with (woo-hoo), the most important thing is to be a polite partner. Remember the Golden Rule and treat others as you would like to be treated. “Between each set, you return the gear to the original condition of the person who got there first,” says King, who adds that when you’re done, you should wipe down and disinfect the gear before swapping it out.

Sharing spaces and working together allows everyone to reach their fitness goals in the most efficient way. Just make sure you target people who are roughly your fitness level (and size) and be polite when asking them to work with you. “Work is not difficult,” says King, “especially if you do it with respect.”

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