WHEN IT COMES to pumping iron, we understand that guys like to walk the line a bit between being a private gym rat and embracing a little bit of that public persona. We all know what it takes to get in a good workout—and so do you—but sometimes the rest of the dudes at the gym seem to miss the so-called “common sense” rules of hitting the weights.
So, for a crucial man-to-man primer on the pillars of gym life—man laws, if you will—we asked none other than one of the biggest, most experienced gym rats of all time: John Cena, 24-time WWE champion, ESPYs host, and chief American exporter of Attitude Adjustments.
Here, the All-American icon dishes on his five most absolute, fundamental gym commandments.
The gym is a fantastic place. I call it church, for me, because it’s a place where I just forget about everything else. If I’m not focused on what I’m doing, I’m going to hurt myself. I see folks casually trudge along going through the basics. Now, you don’t have to train for the Olympics. But you should use your time to become a better individual.
If you want to socialize, there are a ton of other places that have happy hours. There should be some form of social activity in the gym, but there should be some work getting done. And when that balance shifts to more of a place to hang out and less of a place to do work, that’s when my temper boils over a little bit.
Be humble enough to admit when you don’t know what you’re doing
You want a real man code law? That’s it. If you’re certainly doing something incorrectly, you don’t need me to correct you—you’ll know it because you’ll be injured.
If you don’t know how to do a new exercise, or you’re just not sure you’ve mastered the technique, then search out someone who has proper certification to show you the right way. There’s no harm in asking for help. Otherwise, stick to what you know.
Nutrition is paramount to actual athletic activity. If you just regulated nutrition, you could completely redefine your physical presence. When you add exercise, it’s like a hyper booster. I had a great understanding of this when I was 12 years old. Put some gas in the tank and then run the car. That’s pretty much it.
We all know what crap is. Don’t eat crap all the time. Only a little bit.
Training is simple. Training is really, really simple. Obviously, you guys like to get into the nitty-gritty. But if you continuously go to the gym and do something every time you’re there and you give some effort to get better, you will see a physical transformation.
Understand gym etiquette
Every gym is different. Whether you’re at a private gym, or an MMA gym, or an NFL or NBA locker room, or a CrossFit box, you need to learn what people expect of you there. If you go to Hard Nock South—that’s kind of our little shack—the protocol is in a giant vinyl banner that is printed next to the American flag. It’s easy for everybody to read and it’s pretty self-explanatory.
And don’t take your etiquette on the road. I don’t. Adapt to your surroundings, and move forward. It’s easy.