Let me start this post out by saying that if Mark Rippetoe ever ran into me at the gym and started giving me unsolicited advice on lifting, I would absolutely take it seriously and thank him. If Warren Buffett ever ran into me anywhere and gave me unsolicited advice on stocks or economics, I’d probably take that pretty seriously.
However, that never happens, and instead, I see that the vast majority of people at the gym are doing dumb stuff (ever see someone on the Smith machine?). Why are they doing such dumb stuff? Because their friend that “knows a lot about lifting” told them to do it. That person probably heard it from someone else that “knows a lot about lifting.” From there, it’s turtles all the way down… until you get to some illiterate gym rat who originated the technique.
But is there something about the gym that makes people more inclined to want to give you advice? I’d guess it’s some machismo thing, but I’ve got no evidence to back that up, so I’ll just say “I don’t know.” I do know that I don’t want to be “that guy,” so I created a few rules about helping people at the gym. I won’t do it unless:
- The person asks for it. Verbally.
- The person is going to hurt themselves.
And for #2, I don’t mean “I think long term, he’ll find better results if he follows my advice.” I mean “this guy is about to drop a 500lb barbell on his neck.” This has never happened before, but I imagine that one day, I’m going to see someone benching too much without a spot with a suicide grip, and I’m going to stand by until he starts failing, and then I’m going to help guide the bar up and tell him he’s an idiot.