Tip: 5 Gym Hacks to Make Life Easier

You're going to wonder why you didn't think of a couple of these!

1 – For deadlifts, use a small plate to load and unload the bar.

Ever feel like you're wasting energy loading up the bar for a heavy set of deadlifts? Well, you are.

Stop frying your spinal erectors as you struggle to get the next 45 on. If your gym doesn't have a deadlift jack, just use a small plate to prop the bar up. You'll conserve your energy for your actual sets.

2 – Be efficient unloading your deadlift bar.

To unload your bar fast, first use a small plate to prop the weight up on one side of the bar. Slide all the weight off from one side first. Now use the bar as a long lever and lift it vertically so all the other plates slide off nicely stacked on top of each other. Now just pull the bar from the plates.

3 – When benching alone, don't use clips.

Never bench alone or do heavy sets without a spotter if you can help it. At best, you'll get a funny YouTube fail video out of it. At worst, you'll die... which really interferes with making gains.

Clips should be used for almost every other lift, but this is the one exception. If you get the bar stuck on your chest and you have clips on, you're screwed unless you can roll the bar down your stomach (which still really frickin' hurts). Without clips, you can more easily dump the plates off one side.

4 – Use barbells as foam rollers and roller sticks.

After a hard lifting session the last thing you want to do is hold a plank for 5-10 minutes trying to roll out your quads. Instead of using a foam roller, you can relax a little more by using a barbell.

This functions similarly to a roller stick, but instead of vigorously trying to roll out the knots in your quad just let the weight of the barbell do most the work. To do this effectively, start just above the knee and slowly roll the bar up the quad, pausing on areas that are overly sensitive.

5 – Carry a resistance band everywhere.

Band Pull-Apart

In a crowded gym, you may have to wait on equipment. When this happens, your body will start to cool down and you may not be ready for your set when it comes time to actually lift.

This is where a resistance band can become incredibly handy. Doing some band pull-aparts or banded face pulls while you're waiting for your spot to open up will keep your body warm, your shoulders healthy, and will prevent you from being the asshole who constantly has the impatient "Are you done yet?" look on his face.

TJ Kuster is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), specializing in mobility and injury prevention. He coaches at Method Sports Performance in Bloomington, IL.