Muscle for life

I Will Not Train Until My Gym Stops Playing Madonna

I Will Not Train Until My Gym Stops Playing Madonna

I will not train until my gym removes Madonna from their Spotify playlist. I listen to my iPod when I train but do have to take my earbuds out at times, and when I do, there’s at least a 50% chance I’ll have to listen to Madonna squawking about penises or lesbians. My workout just goes downhill from there.



I will not train unless I have wall-to-ceiling mirrors on three–and only–three sides of me. I’m not picky but the mirrors must be quite wide and large and the lighting must make me look better than I do. Poor lighting a complete deal breaker for me.

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There must be the right people in the gym. I don’t want anyone to look significantly better than me because that makes me uncomfortable, and I don’t want anyone too out of shape either because that’s demotivating. On a scale of 1 to 10, the average attractiveness of my fellow gymgoers should be as close to 6 as possible. Anything below a 5 and over a 7 is completely unacceptable.

I must have the right pair of weightlifting shoes. They must not be too tight on the sides because this chafes my feet, which is a real pet peeve of mine. They can’t be too loose either, though, because then my feet slide around and I can’t maintain proper balance. I can’t stress enough the need for a perfect fit.

My pre- and post-workout shakes are of the utmost importance. They must be consumed exactly fifteen minutes before and after training, respectively, and must contain proper amounts of protein and carbohydrate and absolutely no dietary fat. I’m not sure what proper amounts are just yet, which I should probably figure out before I start training. All I know is if I don’t drink my pre-workout shake on time, I feel lethargic in my workouts. If I’m late with my post-workout shake, I build absolutely no muscle and have wasted my time.

It must be early in the morning, but not dark. I must have slept at least eight hours and shaved and showered the night before, and prefer to not have to do my hair before leaving because it just gets messed up again. I must be fed but not too full because that makes me feel bloated.

My music playlist must be encouraging and energizing but not over-stimulating because then I get anxious, which throws off my rhythm and tempo and makes it impossible to focus on my lifts.

If I have to empty my bowels while training, I simply have to go home. Only a savage uses the gym stalls.

The squat racks must be in the northeastern corner of the gym, facing west. Don’t ask me why but I always have my best squat sessions with them oriented in this way and if I don’t have a good squat workout, my entire week is ruined.

I must be given at least one compliment but no more than three because that makes me self-conscious. There must be no waiting for equipment. Life is too short to wait for a bench press.

A friend once told me that Abraham Lincoln said you should sharpen your ax for days before trying to fell a tree. I don’t know anything about Lincoln or woodcutting but training is the same way.

As cultivating the conditions for training is difficult, I’ve only trained three times in the last month. People less exacting than me have suggested I relax my standards and train under sub-optimal conditions, but I quickly dismiss such nonsense. Those three times I did train were some the best workouts I’ve ever had and they produced dramatic improvements in my physique. I believe in working smarter, not harder.

Or…what the hell…maybe I should just shut up and train?


What are your favorite excuses people have for not training? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Jason A. Quest

    I won’t go to the gym until I get in better shape than I am now.

  • DJ

    Well Mike, my excuse is I just started reading the 2nd edition of BLS. I wanted to start this past Monday but hadn’t read enough to feel comfortable with beginning so I’m giving myself a week rest while I read your book. Will be starting fresh and fully rested from my “routine” and begin your 5 day split this coming Monday. 🙂 Was it lame to take a week off? I feel guilty for doing so but wanted my new routine to be Monday through Friday.

    • Hmmm I will forgive this lapse but this Monday it’s time to rock and roll. 🙂

  • Steven Scott

    Well, thanks for the college flashback, Mike — my university gym had the stereo permanently locked on the most Madonna-laden station available. This is not a good memory, so now I’m too traumatized for my chest workout this evening.

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  • Benito

    Well, I friend of mine last week did not work out because he forgot to bring another pair of socks precisely to workout, then I told him that he could just fold down the ones that he already had from work, but he did not want to. People will find the most ridiculous excuses just to avoid a good working weight lifting or whatever training session, to me it’s called being lazy. I might be extreme but I worked out even two days after my father passed. I have wife, two little children, work, school. How do I do? I don’t watch tv, and I want to be at the gym at least 5-6 days per week. If you really want you can find your time.

  • Chris

    I thought your website was hacked when reading this.

  • Bill

    I thought the right time for pre and post workout nutrition is 30 min before and after not 15 min. I sorry but I won’t exercise if I don’t know the correct answer.

    • I’m not sure either. I’m going to read 100 studies on PubMed before taking the plunge.

  • Joseph Varthalitis

    Holy crap! I just realized I have been training without a pre-workout sake. Why the heck am I still even going to the gym…

    P.S. Up until the end of the post, I was thinking that this is some kind of prank guest post, didn’t seem your writing style at all! Was quite funny though 🙂

  • Paul

    That was hilarious. Great post! My personal favorite is “I can’t go to the gym. There are other people there judging me.”

    • Haha. I can actually understand that if someone is really out of shape and doesn’t like being stared at or joked about. Gymgoers can be really judgmental.

  • Stephen

    Haha, hilarious!

  • Henrique Perrella

    I almost thought for a minute that you were being serious lol Then i understood it was a kind of Shit People Says to avoid Workout…

  • Brandon

    Great article Mike! no offense but that sounds like every member at Planet Fitness! Lmao the gym is not for a catered experience it’s about go in there and putting in work!

  • Tong Chang


    Madonna is great…But I trade in order to think how much of a bad ass I am

  • Steve

    I don’t go to the gym because my physique is naturally so amazing with all the years of pizza, beer and fast food, that all gym members would be so jealous and not be able to concentrate on their workouts. Even I can’t stop admiring my pecs (moobs) in the mirror! And no Mikey, I won’t send you a picture!! 😉

    • Understandable. 🙂

    • Robert Vincelette

      I just read that in ancient Greece if you were not an athlete obesity was a status symbol, as it is in the name of unconditional body acceptance a sign of charity; you are establishing solidarity with fat people because if you are too much of a snob to let yourself grow obese you are guilty of fat shaming. In Malaysia they are obsessed with sexual orientation to the degree of outlawing homosexuality, creating the most ingenious excuse for not working out. The government ordered its citizens to turn in suspected homosexuals who can be identified by muscles and a ripped body: thus, to prove that you are heterosexual you must cultivate a beer belly. It must have taken a cerebral cortex at least as big as a watermelon to dream up that excuse for being too lazy to workout.

  • James L Robinson
  • Guest

    Comedy hyperbole notwithstanding the madonna proviso seems perfectly reasonable. I would rather perforate my ear drum than listen to any of her recent (post 1990) work. 😉

    • Yeah. True. 🙂

      • Adrian Pollard

        Especially that new track….good God man

        • Do I really want to check it out? Haha

          • Adrian Pollard

            He’ll I dare you. Matter of fact yes. I want to here yoyr opinion hahaha. What makes it worse is real or not, she is really pushing the whole illuminati jazz. Tired woman

          • Lordy it’s bad.

          • Adrian Pollard

            Told you!

          • Weren’t kidding

  • SO FUNNY! I kid you not I had a friend say to me “I don’t want to be healthy or anything i just want to be jacked”….. whatever the hell that means. haha.

  • Patrick King

    I can’t workout until I have answered every text and voice mail that people have sent me while I am on my way to gym.

  • Clay Eamer

    Ha ha ha, very funny.

    I’m on board with the first point though.

    No Madonna.

    Only metal.


  • Nick

    1. I dont need to lift. Im naturally have a six pack.
    2. Im sore
    3. Leg day can be tomorrow
    4. I dont have any food
    5. I wont go unless I can lose 30lbs from one workout
    6. They dont give free pizza
    7. I have a cheat meal today so I just cant do something healthy.
    8. Im tired
    9. I dont have music
    10. My training partner is sick
    11. My training partner is a liar
    12. My training parter doesnt like to spot
    13. My training partner lies about not liking to spot. He just feels inferior to me.
    14. How much does ( Insert Steroided up Bodbuilder here) say to bench? 315?! I can only do 100! i guess I wont workout today
    15. I have a blister on my ( insert body part here)
    16. Im out of pre workout
    17. I have to drop the kiddies of at the pool
    Wow theres so many I can think of!
    ( I promise I have NEVER used a excuse, lame excuse atleast:-) )

  • Richard

    This is one of the reasons that I built my own home gym… I don’t even need to avoid people with excuses 🙂

  • Amanda Hodges

    this article cracked me up 🙂

  • Livo

    Oh yes I did have many excuses myself hehehehe. But I did really lack the motivation, but I found it again and I am enjoying my time in the gym and the transformation. GO GIRLSSSSS.!!!!

  • Dan

    Ha, would be a great April Fools post…

  • drbarney

    The main thing is don’t accept any excuses not to train. If there is no gym that meets your needs invest in simple equipment and make a gym in your home. It can be done for less than a few month membership in a gym. Often there is more than one gym so if you don’t like one, you may find one that is better.

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