One of the best exercises, if not the best exercise when it comes to building strength or muscle mass is the deadlift. Few exercises hit as many muscle groups as the deadlift which hits the entire posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back, mid-upper back, traps) alongside secondary and supplemental muscle groups.
With the reputation carried by the deadlift, you’d think it would be the first exercise on many people’s programs. While it’s true that some people neglect this exercise due to the risk of injury (without having the correct technique), some people can’t actually deadlift because their gym won’t actually allow it. For such a great exercise this is surely a surprising exercise for gyms to ban!
So, why don’t gyms allow deadlifts? Some gyms ban deadlifts for a number of reasons; Firstly, commercial gyms don’t have dedicated deadlift platforms so the deadlift ban is to protect the equipment and flooring. They also don’t want to promote a “hardcore” weightlifting atmosphere so try to prevent the noise pollution from dropped weights.
It can be very frustrating to join a gym and pay the membership only to find out that you then can’t do one of the most effective and beneficial exercises! Therefore, we’re going to look into the reasons why gyms ban deadlifts and if there’s anything you can do about it (which is basically join a better gym or build your own at home).
Why Don’t Gyms Allow Deadlifts?
Simply put, there are many reasons that some gyms do not allow deadlifts. There is no one answer that speaks for every gym, either. Some gyms ban deadlifts for legal or insurance reasons. Others do it because their trainers don’t know how to do such exercises themselves. We’ll cover all of the potential reasons here.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that deadlifts haven’t been banned by all gyms. However, it’s a decently common trend that many gyms have subscribed to. The question is, why? There are 4 main reasons why gyms don’t allow deadlifts.
- Legal and Insurance Reasons
Anyone that deadlifts know that, sometimes, those huge, heavyweights get dropped straight onto the floor. Needless to say, several hundred pounds slamming into the floor has a very high chance of causing damage to those floors. Some gyms may ban deadlifts to avoid such damage, which their insurance may not cover.
Furthermore, deadlifts are complex and dangerous exercises. One has to know how to properly deadlift to avoid injuring themselves, and your average gym-goer does not. Of course, people will still attempt things they don’t know how to do, which may lead to injury and the possibility of lawsuits. Naturally, gyms don’t want that.
- Lack of Knowledge
As said previously, deadlifts require knowledge of how to properly do them. But with how many exercise machines exist these days, many trainers have no experience under a bar and don’t know how to teach proper deadlifting techniques. That being the case, they simply don’t teach it.
After all, if they tried to teach it and someone got hurt due to bad technique, that would almost certainly open them up to costly legal action.
- The Cost of Weights
Some gyms don’t allow deadlifts simply because they don’t have the proper weights for people to deadlift with. This is usually because bigger, heavier weights cost more money for the gym to procure. In an attempt to keep their costs down, some gyms may not purchase those bigger, heavier weights, thus making deadlifts unavailable.
- Catering to the Masses
This reason specifically applies to commercial chain gyms. Let’s be honest here: most of the people who go to such gyms are not dedicated to really getting fit, and they usually only go to that gym once or twice a year. Most of the people who go to these gyms are casual members.
Deadlifting is not a casual exercise. It’s very complex and difficult and is an exercise reserved for people that hit the gym regularly and take it very seriously. In short, it’s an intimidating exercise that could potentially make casual gym-goers feel judged or inadequate, making it less likely for them to go to that gym.
This may sound silly, but think about it: no one really likes feeling judged or stupid, and many of the people going to the gym are not really that fit. The more serious and complex exercises a gym has, the more serious and dedicated gym-goers it will have, giving it a more “serious gym for serious gym-goers” feel.
That type of atmosphere is more likely to make casual gym-goers uncomfortable there, and if they are uncomfortable, they aren’t going to go back, and they certainly won’t pay for a membership. But if the gym feels very casual, such gym-goers are more likely to keep their subscriptions, convincing themselves that they might go back.
It’s unfortunate, but these commercial chain gyms are businesses, and profit is their primary concern. With most of their money coming from low monthly subscriptions from casual gym-goers that rarely actually make use of their membership, it’s more profitable to cater to those people, not the ones who would be interested in deadlifts.
Did Planet Fitness Ban Deadlifts?
The short answer is yes. Planet Fitness has banned deadlifts, and such has been the case for some time now. It’s worth noting that, while banning deadlifts is official corporate policy, some Planet Fitness gyms may still allow it and kind of just look the other way. Some members have told such stories, at any rate.
But officially, yes: deadlifts are banned at Planet Fitness, so if that’s what you’re looking to do at the gym, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Why Did Planet Fitness (and Other Commercial Gyms) Ban Deadlifts?
Well, there’s no concrete answer to this question. Deadlifts have been banned at Planet Fitness for over a decade, and many other commercial gym chains are in the same boat. Most of them have never provided any sort of official statement as to why they decided to ban deadlifts.
Chances are, it’s a combination of all the potential reasons we mentioned earlier, though some may be more prominent than others:
- Such gyms may be concerned about possible damage to their floors, which costs money to repair
- Such gyms may be worried about potential lawsuits if someone hurts themselves doing deadlifts
- The trainers at such gyms may not have the knowledge or experience to teach deadlifting technique
- Such gyms may not want to purchase bigger, heavier weights that cost more money to procure
- Deadlifts are complex exercises that may intimidate the casual clientele of most commercial gyms
As we said, there’s never been an official statement as to why Planet Fitness banned deadlifts, so any or all of these reasons could have something to do with it. However, considering the business model of Planet Fitness and such commercial gyms, the clientele is likely the biggest reason.
Such gyms make most of their money from people who are willing to pay a cheap membership subscription because they believe they’ll make use of it, but rarely do. Most of their money doesn’t come from dedicated individuals seriously invested in their fitness.
And because that’s the case, such gyms will do whatever it takes to cater to the casual gym-goers that make up most of their profit, even if that means taking away something more dedicated gym-goers would like to have at their gym.
If you’ve been shocked to find you’re a member of a gym that doesn’t allow deadlifts then don’t worry. Firstly, you’re not alone in coming to this realization as there are a number of commercial gyms (it’s mainly the commercial gyms and health clubs) that don’t allow deadlifts. Secondly, you can just do what we’ve done and make a home gym to accommodate your own needs….
In all seriousness though, gyms not allowing deadlifts is not the end of the world. One solution can be to incorporate rack pulls (if the gym will allow that) to target the upper back and then heavy stiff-legged deadlifts to target the hamstrings and glutes.
These might not always work so the best advice would be to change gym to more hardcore powerlifting or bodybuilding style gyms where heavy lifting is encouraged rather than denied!
If you’ve come across this issue chances are you’ll have also seen some other issues with gyms so I’d recommend checking out:
Why don’t gyms allow chalk
Why don’t gyms have enough squat racks