When it comes to gym culture, everyone has their own workout routines, pet peeves, and quirks. But we’re all united by one debate: Is it OK to fart at the gym?
It doesn’t matter if you’re in downward dog or at the squat rack—you’ll probably feel the need to break wind at some point. Workout farts are a very real thing, but do you really want to be the guy who lets one rip in an enclosed space, surrounded by strangers? Is it rude, or is it an accepted occupational hazard?
We decided to settle the argument by launching an investigation into whether it’s socially acceptable to let one loose while working out.
First, let’s get one thing straight: Fitness-induced flatulence is common.
Worried you’re the only one trying not to toot during yoga? Relax, because it 100-percent happens to everyone. Take a look at the discussions happening on Bodybuilding.com, Reddit, and Quora, and know you’re not alone.
There are several reasons why we get gassy during physical exertion. First, heavy breathing causes excess air to get trapped in our digestive tract, which is released through the anus, Women’s Health reported. Plus, all that moving stimulates the digestive process, which also contributes to gassiness.
We asked Men’s Health social media followers (as well as some our own staff-members) for their own gassy tales, and were rewarded with plenty of anecdotes.
“I’ve once cleared out a weight room because of gas,” one Twitter user told us. “Lactose intolerance + Dairy = terrible time in the weight room for everyone else the next day.”
I’ve once cleared out a weight room because of gas. Lactose intolerance + Dairy = terrible time in the weight room for everyone else the next day.
When I brought up the topic of gym farts on Slack, Hearst Entertainment Director Nojan Aminosharei had something to say.
“I’m going to stop lurking for a second to say that the leg press is fully two different, simultaneous exercises,” he wrote. “1. The leg press. 2. Holding in my farts.”
Another Twitter user said he hasn’t just farted at the gym—he had something even more embarrassing happen.
“One day I was going in for a routine squat, nothing major, just 135 lbs., and I felt a little gassy,” he wrote. “I thought I’d let it rip as I exploded up and out of the squat. However a shart exploded down my pants. Nobody noticed, but my workout was done.”
One day I was going in for a routine squat, nothing major, just 135lbs and I felt a little gassy. I thought I’d let it rip as I exploded up and out of the squat. However a shart exploded down my pants. Nobody noticed, but my workout was done 🏋️♂️ 💩 #workoutmotivation #squat
So should you go ahead and fart at the gym?
Naturally, I assume most people follow the unspoken rule of “just don’t fart in public,” so it came as a shock when Dr. John Whyte, Chief Medical Officer at WebMD, told me he thinks it’s OK to pass gas while working out.
“It’s a gym, so we should be OK with that,” he said.
Men’s Health Deputy Digital Editor Jordyn Taylor was also somewhat forgiving.
“You should obviously try to avoid farting when you’re in an enclosed public place like the gym, but sometimes they can come out accidentally, like during ab exercises and yoga,” she said in our team Slack conversation.
According to our Instagram poll, 51 percent of people said to go ahead and do it.
“Farts happen, I’m cool with a silent toot, but guys who commit to a full airhorn—that’s not cool,” one user commented.
Another person made a valid point that gas doesn’t discriminate on location.
“Farts don’t recognize the place…they should be released,” they said.
There’s even a scientific reason why you probably want to set that fart free.
To be clear, I think the gym would be a better (and less stinky) place if we all attempted to hold in our gas. However, Whyte made a medical case for those in favor of relieving themselves in public.
Holding in that air means contracting your muscles, and doing this while exerting other muscle groups is unnatural for your body. In fact, doing both at the same time could lead to injuries and abnormal spikes in blood pressure.
“You don’t want to be contracting and clenching down when you’re exerting other muscle groups,” says Whyte.
But shouldn’t we worry about offending innocent nostrils? Eh, Whyte doesn’t find that a compelling reason to endure the discomfort of suppressed farts.
“I think people are being overly sensitive,” he says. “It’s a gym. It’s ok. I say go for it.”
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