The ‘FNL’ – Friday Night Lifter

by Matt Hodges
23 August 2012

Fitness Instructor London, Personal Trainer London

Gym-Blagger [ˈjim-bla-gerɪ] Brit slang, offensive
n pl Gym-blaggers
1. (Social Science / Peoples) a person, mainly male, who has no spatial awareness for his/her or others fitness and health
2. (Social Science / Peoples) (loosely) a person who regards their overall ego more important than their form adj
1. (Social Science / Peoples) People who discount all logic for big biceps
2. (Social Science / Peoples) (loosely) denoting a person who thinks highly of ones self in the gym arena


Ok, ok, so this article here is just a little bit of fun. Over the past three months we’ve been asking our followers on Twitter and Facebook to send us all the things that annoy them/make them laugh about people in the gym. We’ve ALL been there before and I think we can all relate to some of the stuff thrown up in the tweets and comments in our own training and how we are/used to be. However, in our opinion if you still fit into more than 3 of these things then you sir/madam are a:

“FNL, and you should cease going to the gym and re-evaluate your life” – Adam Pifkin, Twitter

Thank you Adam. This is just one of the overwhelming responses we’ve had. I’ve tried to collate the best attributes and comments and compiled them into our very own illustration. So…. ladies and gentleman may I present to you the FNL or Gym Blagger (as more commonly known)…………………

The Friday Night Lifter

Fitness Instructor London, Personal Trainer London1) The Bicep Curl:

What exercise do hairdressers do in the gym?…. Curls.

With high traps, bad form and way too heavy dumbbells. The FNLs’ requirements are to get the most from the bicep and the chest 4/5 days a week to maximise his Friday night sex appeal. Obviously looking like a KFC chicken is the ‘in’ thing. This movement is often undertaken in a squat rack or power cage rendering the people who really know how to train useless. Females – doing bicep curls does NOT get rid of your wings!

Solution: Quit being a joker and concentrate on some posterior chain pull movements. Your seriously bad posture has weakened your core and back muscles and made you all too top heavy. If you must curl, then do it with strict form (concentrate on elbow positioning) and leave them to the end of your workout after you’ve squatted/deadlifted/pull up’d). All too often we see the bicep curl as the main proponent to ones gym session.

2) The Leather Belt:

In addition to number 1. This is not necessary guys unless you are powerlifting or compounding with some serious weight, NOT bicep curling!

Solution: It’s obvious. Sack the belt off. Concentrate more on core movements so your lower back doesn’t buckle when you are lifting. EASY.

3) The Leather Glove:

Mr FNL can’t mess up his fairy liquid hands, plus it makes him look like a gym veteran. Leather and metal go together – FACT

Solution: Do you actually need them or is it just an accessory to make you feel better? See point 2 & 6.

4) The Dumbbells:

So we are not saying don’t use dumbbells, just put the damn things back when you’ve used them. Supersetting is great but taking the whole rack off just for lateral raises does not make you king of the gym FNL!

Solution: This is obvious for most of us, but to FNL’s i’ll spell it out. P-U-T   T-H-E   W-E-I-G-H-T-S   B-A-C-K

5) The Elevated Trainer:

We had a mixed debate about this. Elevated trainers (mainly the Nikes we see) do nothing for you when squatting and deadlifting, and arguably running. However, our conclusion was that the FNL wouldn’t be doing the ‘main’ lifts anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

Solution: If you are serious about training ditch the elevated trainers. Squat, deadlift, lunge etc without shoes OR buy some decent barefoot sole shoes like Nike Frees or Vibrams.

6) Rugby Socks:

This is one of my own favourites. Maybe it’s the area I live in, or maybe its just a fad but over the past few years i’ve seen an ever increasing number of people coming into the gym with rugby shorts on with RUGBY SOCKS!!! Arrrgh this kills me. Why on earth would you need rugby socks in the gym??

“Is it because your scared that the dumbbells you’ve left lying around might find their way back over to you and tackle you by the ankles?!” Ellie Freds, Facebook


“Is it because gym floors are so muddy that you need to save your ankles?” Neil Shaw, Facebook

If you haven’t noticed it before, now you’ve read this you’ll see it more and more!

Solution: Need I say more?

7) The Label Monster or the All-In-One:

This see-through attribute is actually one for us more experienced gym goers and less so for the FNL. However, it has to go in because, as a plea to all my fellow gym buddies, please take heed and stop with this. As I said before, this is a typical trait of a well versed lifter who’s built a bit of a physique and generally has some good looks. Appearance is everything with these people, and what you wear is key to having the ‘whole gym look’. Head to toe in all the right gear makes you feel like you are a pro and gives you that extra step in the gym as you feel like everyone is noticing how cool and how experienced you are. The big brands have clearly caught onto this *ahem lulu ahem*. This also goes for those guys who wear MMA shirts/shorts or Crossfit t-shirts or ‘Ion’ bracelets. Wearing your ego is just bad form!

“Its not a fashion show it’s a gym. Leave your ego at home!” Phil Hodges

8) Balance Boards & Bosu:

Yes FNL’s, these are NOT useful despite what your trainer might tell you. Doing bicep curls and squats on a Bosu does not increase your proprieception skills or increase ‘core stability’. It was a fad that has unfortunately found its main stay in gyms. This goes for squatting on a Swiss ball, in fact this goes for any compound movement on a Swiss ball!

Solution: Just think about this for a second. Think about what your muscles and tendons are doing through a lift on an uneven surface? How many times in a day do you have to perform a movement under that sort of uneven balance? Rarely ever. So why bother, its not functional whatsoever. This is about the only useful thing you can do with Swiss balls:


9) Mobiles:

This had a HUGE response on our Facebook page. People seem to have a real gripe about FNL’s bringing their phones into gyms. I can understand this especially when they bring two in! Obviously one is for serious ‘work’ and the other is to check their Facebook status’s mid set or to take a sneaky picture of how ‘hench’ they look, under spotlight, in the mirror, in the squat rack, taking up other peoples time, being loud, being obnoxious and generally fulfilling the FNL status.

Solution: Refer to solution 2& 6

10) Protein Shake:

We are all for peri- nutrition but a whey shake mid workout? Really? I think this is tending on the site of point 7. It’s more about looking like a seasoned pro than actually doing the hard work. Still, it’s a complete FAIL in our books.

Solution: Swap this protein blend with a heap of BCAA’s and a fast acting carb if you so desire. There are some good products out there so do your research!

11) The Fitness Mag:

There’s an argument for and against this. We understand that gyms can be scary and it’s made even worse if you don’t know what you are doing so you are fully entitled to undertake what you read in a fitness magazine. However, the harsh truth of it is that the article telling you to do every weird exercise under the sun does not address you as the exercising client.

Solution: Be a bit smarter with your exercise selection. Look into it a bit more or ask questions. Plenty of personal trainers will guide you in the right direction. Hell, we’ll do it if it means you don’t get suckered by the ‘one legged, reverse hip thrusting bicep curl shoulder rotation’.
Don’t always believe what you read. Most fitness columns over gloss workouts for the interest of the readers- they are reinventing the wheel every month. Bare that in mind.

12) Chicken Legs:

The piece de resistance. We left this to the end because, rightly, it is the most important one. Out of our 2,800 likes on Twitter we were inundated by people saying this was their main issue with the FNL! We have already established that the FNL is a top heavy weight junky. The neglect for the lower portion of the body defines you from a serious lifter to a FNL. Many of you who know me know my gripe with my local gym (Fulham,London). Only two days ago I made it a point of counting the guys in the free weights area. There were 17 people in there including myself. 16 of these guys were training chest/shoulders and arms. Now, given that about 3 of those 16 were periodising properly ill let them off so that leaves approx 77% of people in the gym as FNL’s. I was the only one using a squat rack and training lower half by the way.

Solution: Its simple really – TRAIN YOUR LEGS as a matter of priority!! We could write a whole article on why legs are the most important part of the body to train (bar the heart) but we’ll leave that for another day. A quick overview would be:

  • Better metabolic effect
  • Higher test and GH levels
  • Larger all round body strength
  • Better balance
  • More aesthetic

The list really could go on and on. I remember a great quote from back when I was starting out (and undoubtedly a FNL myself):

“If you have big wheels, the chassis follows” Unknown

NOTE: Chicken legs can be seen a mile off, especially when you look like Jonny Bravo!

The suggestions that didnt make it (maybe next article?)

  • Coming into the gym with friends – too much talking
  • The upside down ab curl
  • Lat Pulldown bad form
  • Rest periods over 3 minutes doing Hypertrophy or conditioning work
  • Jewellery
  • Long Steady Duration Cardio
  • 2kg dumbells (this made me laugh and very nearly made it in)


Like we said earlier if you feel like you are edging into the FNL stakes then, don’t do as Adam said, just re-arrange what you are serious about. It is good to have motivations even if it is dressing yourself head to toe in all the right gear, but please, not at the sake of good form and good exercise selection. There is nothing worse than someone who has ‘all the gear and no idea’.

We hope you enjoyed this little light hearted article but in all seriousness if you want any training advice, our London personal trainers at The MPH Method are always here to help.

This article was written by Matt Hodges, you can see all his articles here.