Are you one of those unlucky people who just moved to a new gym and realized that you couldn’t perform deadlifts there?
Unfortunately, a lot of people who go to commercial gyms end up having the same problem. Deadlifting is an integral part of many bodybuilders’ and powerlifters’ workout regimes. So, it’s a little sad to see that many modern-day fitness clubs are against it.
But what is the reason behind this? Why is deadlifting banned in gyms?
There are many reasons why you cannot perform a deadlift in conventional fitness clubs and top gym franchises.
Let’s talk about some of them.
Why Do Some Gyms Not Allow Deadlifts?
If you are into traditional strength training, you would recognize that deadlifting is basically the cornerstone of most strength programs. So, it’s pretty disappointing when you find out that the most accessible gym franchises, like Planet Fitness, do not allow deadlifts within their premises.
They have their own reasons, however, and a lot of them. Whether you agree with them or not depends entirely on you.
Here are the most commonly reported reasons why members weren’t allowed to perform a deadlift at their respective gyms:
It’s an apparent fact that commercial, globally acclaimed gyms do not operate with the mindset to produce the strongest or the most athletic-looking client. Instead, they rely on a large part of their income from a blend of casual exercisers and novice bodybuilders.
In the case of gyms that don’t allow deadlifts, a majority of their income comes from casual patrons. These are mostly newbies who have recently started their fitness journeys. Planet Fitness, for example, specifically targets this kind of market.
To keep these casual patrons interested in working out, these commercial gyms try their best to create a ‘judgment-free zone’ where newbies can work out comfortably without being intimidated by heavy lifters.
Unfortunately, squatting and deadlifting might be two of the most intimidating exercises that a beginner can watch. Imagine walking into the gym and seeing another person lifting 300 pounds like it’s nothing. That could be intimidating for newbies, who might lose their will and cancel their memberships.
Deadlifting is one of the most complicated compound exercises, something that requires time and dedication to perfect. Most casual patrons are usually looking for a quick fix and are not interested in such exercises.
Thus, to encourage their comfort and convenience, conventional gyms tend to restrict uber-strong exercises like deadlifting and clean and jerk.
In the end, the management will look into what the vast majority of their members want, and not just a few clients who are looking to progress in their weightlifting journeys.
We have already talked about how performing a deadlift can make newbies a little uncomfortable. Let’s expand on this area.
Why do beginners feel uncomfortable when the other person is just minding their own business and performing deadlifts in a corner? In most cases, it’s because of the loud noise associated with this kind of exercise.
While deadlifting heavy weights, members often tend to shout and grunt, which other people might categorize as obnoxious gym-bro behavior. Moreover, many people drop the weights directly onto the floor, creating a huge amount of noise in the process. This is something that is really frowned upon, even in gyms like Anytime Fitness, where deadlifting is allowed.
However, unlike Anytime Fitness, other commercial gyms find it a better solution to ban performing deadlifts altogether.
Another thing that makes both the staff and other non-deadlift-supporting members mad is that members usually don’t put the weights and plates back in their place after completing their deadlifts. So, it results in a lot of chaos for everyone.
Lack of Deadlifting Platforms
If you haven’t noticed, most commercial gyms have some space constraints. So, it’s difficult for them to install platforms specifically for deadlifting. It’s also expensive to do so, which is why even some spacious gyms opt not to invest in something like this.
Now, you might think – “I don’t need a platform to perform deadlifts, I’ll just do it on the floor!”
Unfortunately, the restriction is not for your comfort but for the convenience of the management.
Performing deadlifts on the floor is dangerous. In most cases, the concrete foundation of the floor will be unable to take abuse from several hundred pounds worth of plates.
So, floor damage is another big reason why deadlifting is a huge no for most commercial gym chains.
The fitness industry is ultimately a business. While your local gym might want you to grow into a better athlete, it probably wants money more.
So, when it has to invest a lot of money in something, it’ll just prefer not to do that.
Unfortunately, to support proper deadlift enthusiasts, the gym will have to make some investments. For one, they need a proper platform where the flooring cannot be damaged by the weight being thrown down. If they don’t invest in platforms, they’ll at least need rubber mats or some other material to cushion the fall and protect the foundation.
The other front that requires heavy investment is the cost incurred in purchasing more weight plates. Deadlifting requires heavier plates. And because of the nature of that exercise, frequent wear and tear on these plates are also a common sight in most gyms that allow deadlifting.
So, there are some recurring expenses as well as a hefty initial investment. With so much money involved, it’s just better for gyms to prohibit deadlifting altogether.
Insurance and Liability Issues
Performing a deadlift can be dangerous, even for experienced bodybuilders. If you are trying to push yourself, you can actually lose form and end up with a nasty injury.
Moreover, some people accidentally or intentionally drop the barbell on the floor after completing the last repetition. This may result in property damage.
All of this can lead to lawsuits, and ultimately, the gym will have to take responsibility for everything in court.
To avoid such issues, one option is to get decent insurance coverage. But that will cost a lot for the gym.
So, commercial gyms opt to simply omit deadlifting from the list of exercises they allow.
Lack of Knowledge
Deadlifting is a complicated compound movement. It engages a lot of muscles at once. So, you have to make sure that your posture is correct. Otherwise, you might end up hurting yourself.
There are a lot of cases where poor form while deadlifting has led to chronic injuries. This is something that every gym wants to avoid for its members.
Performing a deadlift requires a good amount of knowledge on how to do it properly. Even the trainers at some commercial gyms might not be well-equipped to demonstrate the perfect way to perform deadlifts.
And if, due to poor technique or wrong guidance by the trainer, some member gets hurt, the gym will be liable to a hefty penalty.
What to Do When Your Gym Doesn’t Allow Deadlifting?
We have listed all the reasons why your gym might have restricted deadlifting within its premises.
But is there any solution or workaround to this problem?
Here’s what you can do if the staff at your local gym aren’t allowing you to perform deadlifts:-
Ask Their Reasons
Before getting into an argument, it’s good to understand the intentions of the staff members and management. If they have safety concerns or if the gym’s policy states that you cannot make noise inside the training section, simply let them know that you know what you’re doing and won’t drop the weights on the floor.
If you know their reasoning, you might be able to come up with a mutual solution.
Look for Other Gyms
If you cannot come to an understanding with the management at your local gym, the best option is to go elsewhere. There are many gyms that still allow deadlifting and even provide deadlifting platforms for their members.
Even global franchises like the YMCA and Anytime Fitness allow deadlifts in most of their gyms. But you will have to adhere to their weightlifting policies.
Perform Deadlift Variations Instead
If you love your current gym and don’t want to move, you might want to consider performing variations of the traditional deadlift. For example, you can try smith machine deadlifts, or even kettlebell swings. Ask a qualified trainer to discuss the alternatives and teach you the proper form and technique.
Perform Other Exercises
If no variation of deadlifting is allowed inside your gym, you will have to include other exercises in your routine that can act as a supplement.
For example, perform exercises like squats, lunges, back hyperextensions and hip thrusts that engage similar muscle groups.
Again, make sure that you keep your trainer in the loop and ask them to teach you the correct posture and technique.
Talk to the Management
Finally, if nothing works, you can consider approaching the management itself. Local gyms or even franchises don’t want to lose their clients.
As such, they’ll be willing to listen to you and come up with a few potential solutions, if possible.
We have talked about all the reasons why most commercial gyms don’t allow deadlifting in their training areas.
You might not agree with them, but that is their reasoning. Fortunately, there are some alternatives that you can try, as listed in the section above.
If deadlifting is a core part of your workout routine, it’s important to find a gym that does not have any such restrictions in this regard.