All Hail the Smart Phone. Destroyer of Workouts.

Man in white on weight bench staring at phone

Phones slow down workouts.

Girl holding dumbbell staring at phone in gym.


According to Time magazine, “Your cell phone is 10x dirtier than a toilet seat.” But that’s not why we’re writing. We’re writing because cell phones ruin workouts. So we’re always amused when people tell us how much they love Big Back Lifting Grips, “but I can’t carry them.” Yet somehow, they manage to go everywhere in  the gym with their cell phone glued to their hand. What’s  the difference between carrying Big Back Grips and a cell phone? Cell phones wreck workouts; Big Back Grips improve workouts.

In the B.C. (Before Cellphones) era, filling the time between sets had three options: staring off into space; trying to check out someone hot without getting busted; or getting psyched for the next set. Now, cell phones ruin workouts because people waste more time on equipment screwing around with their cell phones than they spend using the equipment. Any of those first three is better, but if you focus on the next set, you’ll get there faster and give it more.

By using the time between each set to focus on the next, model Jennifer England gets the most of her time at the gym.

Model Jennifer England focuses on a set of cable rows.


Anyone who’s ever seen The Karate Kid knows that in physical activity, balance is everything. A 2016 study by researchers at Hiram College and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania looked at 45 college students and found more ways that cell phones ruin workouts.

It’s a no-brainer the phones interfered with focus and intensity. But the study found that texting while working out diminishes postural stability by 45% compared to no cell phone use. And that even just talking on the phone during exercise lowers it by 19%. The risk of injury rises accordingly.

It’s difficult to justify the distraction that cell phones have become in the gym. Not to mention everywhere else people are unable to function without a cell phone in hand, even if totally unrelated to the function. It’s so unproductive to multi-task everything: the task at hand and the cell phone. Why not focus on just the task at hand?

Man in blue hoodie looking at a cell phone instead of focusing on his workout.


That doesn’t mean you’re there to socialize, but it does mean you have to be aware of each other. It’s how we share space and equipment politely, productively and safely. When you’re engrossed in your phone in a busy gym, you’re not any of those things. So cell phones ruin workouts for everyone – you and your fellow gym members.

If someone is standing nearby waiting for the bench, will you even know? Are you taking twice as long as you need on equipment because you’re so wrapped in the phone you don’t know how much time has passed? Will you be annoyed or appreciative when a fellow gym members snaps you back to attention?

Woman sitting on a leg extension but staring at a cell phone.


If only the problem was limited to the gym floor. Let’s face it. Cell phone use has become a pathology, where people can no longer walk their dogs, take the baby for a stroll, cross a street, drive a car, shop for groceries or have dinner with friends without a cell phone in their hand. It’s become a safety issue, a social issue and personal productivity issue.

It’s also a personal sanity issue. Whether you hit the gym for power lifting, bodybuilding, CrossFit, cardio or just staying in shape, it should be a break from the stress outside, not a high-tech gizmo for carrying stress everywhere you go. Put the phone down, pick the grips up, and enjoy the gym for what it is, which is not an over-sized phone booth with weights.

Until they come up with a treatment, here are some ideas:

  • First and foremost, don’t be that person.
  • Leave your phone in your car or locker. You’ll find it surprisingly liberating.
  • If for some reason you must a have a phone, step away from equipment and crowds to use it.
  • Talk your gym management about a cell phone policy. Perhaps signage that just says, “No cell phone use on or near equipment. Thank you.”
  • Don’t be shy if someone is blithely texting on a bench you need. “Excuse me, how many sets do you have left?” or “Do you mind if I work in?” will usually snap them back to attention. It’s not only fun to watch, you’re doing them a favor!
  • You can learn more about how people use Big Back Grips in their everyday workouts by visiting the Big Back Grips YouTube and Big Back Instagram pages. Feel free to follow us on Facebook too!
Unhappy looking young man sitting texting a message using his mobile phone

1 Comment

  • Larry Greenfield Posted April 22, 2020 4:21 pm

    Thank you for this article. It’s about time!!

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