More Complaints = Less Gains: How To Stop Complaining At The Gym, Or At Least Do It Well

by Peter Spina
More Complaints = Less Gains: How To Stop Complaining At The Gym, Or At Least Do It Well

“Ugh, my day is so busy! I had to wake up at 5 am to get to the gym”

“My pull ups suck. Why do I have to do them?! Can’t I do something else?!”

“Burpees are the worst and I hate dropping to the floor. Ew.”

“Sweating is gross. Gross, gross, gross, icky”

“I can only deadlift 200 lbs and Derek can deadlift 215 lbs. Waaaah”

GOSH, THAT IS ANNOYING! People who complain nonstop at the gym, about the gym, about their performance at the gym, and about anything gym-related harsh my mellow.

Don’t get me wrong – I am sighing right there next to you when I’m frustrated by my lack of progress on Handstand Push-ups, let’s say. But wasting your breath and energy complaining is just that – a waste. Here’s why.

It feels good, but doesn’t do good

Complaining might feel good in the short term; but this addictive behavior can do more harm than good.

When you complain, you:

  1. Stress yourself out
  2. Stop enjoying your workout
  3. Struggle to focus on getting it done, and focus on how much you don’t want to do it
  4. You slow down, get frustrated, take more rests, maybe even stop working out altogether
  5. You avoid exercises that make you annoyed
  6. You make less progress on these exercises
  7. You drive possible gym buddies & workout partners away
  8. You feel lonely & frustrated
  9. You complain (again)

You see?! It’s a vicious cycle of trying to feel better by complaining; but all you end up doing is complaining rather than solving the problem that is making you want to complain in the first place.

The solution is NOT embracing blind optimism.


The solution is to take that impulse to complain; break it down; and use it to identify your weaknesses and how to beat them.

How to Complain BETTER

Here are 4 tips for complaining in a way that doesn’t bum you and those around you out. And, contrary to conventional complaints, it will lead to a productive process of fixing the situation rather than remaining stuck in it.

4 ways to complain better are:

  1. Don’t complain about something unless you want to find a solution to it. Assess if there is anything you can do to reduce your distress.
  2. When you complain, do it to someone who can help you. Perhaps phrase your point of tension as a question.
  3. Focus on what is wrong, and what you want to happen instead.
  4. Set a limit to how long you can vent.

Let’s walk through it together

For example, taking one of those complaints from above and using our fancy new BETTER complaining tips:

“Ugh, my day is so busy! I had to wake up at 5 am to get to the gym”

  1. Can you workout after work?
  2. Can you frame this as a question you can pose to your neighbor who babysits? Ex. “Hey Sally, I’m hoping you’d be interested in a regular babysitting gig from 5:00pm – 6:00 pm. I just need an hour to workout.”
  3. Is it an issue that you are working out too early? Or that you are too busy? Can you stop doing other things to make more time for your workouts later in the day? Are you losing sleep, and should perhaps turn in earlier so the 5 am workout doesn’t feel as draining?
  4. OK, you can complain about working out at 5 am; but you can only do it to your personal trainer once a week, and not on Mondays because everyone hates Mondays.

Better Complaining for Better Results

Avoid the toxic spiral of complaining. Stop ruminating on what isn’t going your way, and focus your energy on asking for help, creating a plan, and making it better.

Complaining sucks the energy out of a gym; out of your gym buddies; and can make each rep feel heavier than the one before.

Change your mind to change your workout.