Does Planet Fitness Have Barbell Pads?

No, Planet Fitness doesn’t universally provide barbell pads; it varies depending on the location and the discretion of the management. Some individuals may bring their own, and occasionally, members may leave them at the gym for others to use.

So, does Planet Fitness have hip thrust pads? No, after visiting over 100 locations, I can confirm that Planet Fitness gyms do not have dedicated hip thrust and barbell pads. However, they do provide a Smith machine, which serves as an alternative for exercises like hip thrusts (which works for me).

I use Planet Fitness gyms regularly, every two weeks. This is mainly because I travel to five different states for work, and with the Planet Fitness Black card membership, I have access to any of their gym locations. This allows me to discover which Planet Fitness gyms have barbell pads.

planet fitness hip thrust pads
Planet Fitness Barbell Pads

Do they have barbell pads at Planet Fitness?

No, barbell pads are generally not found at Planet Fitness becasue nobody uses them. The majority of Planet Fitness members I’ve spoken to are recreational or first-time gym users, and they typically utilize resistance machines such as leg presses, chest presses, and lat pull-downs. I barely see anyone using Smith machines (which is the only machine on the planet fitness where you would need barbell pads).

I’ve visited over 100 different Planet Fitness locations, including not only those near me but also in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, and Charlotte, NC, and only a handful of them had a barbell pad. And if you happen to see someone using barbell pads at Planet Fitness, I can assure you that someone brought them along, similar to how people use weightlifting belts, ankle straps, and weighted vests. These barbell pads weren’t provided by the gym manager but were brought in by other members themselves.

Why Planet Fitness doesn’t have barbell pads?

There are a few reasons why Planet Fitness doesn’t have barbell pads.

  • Planet Fitness promotes a judgment-free policy to create a friendly environment, and barbell pads can be associated with heavy lifting, which may intimidate most members.
  • Planet Fitness has unique rules, such as discouraging behaviors like grunting or yelling, which differ from traditional gyms.
  • Some Planet Fitness locations do have barbell pads, but they are often brought in by members themselves rather than being provided by the gym.
  • Barbell pads are not a common accessory at Planet Fitness due to the low usage of Smith machines, aligning with the gym’s focus on a specific clientele.

According to Planet Fitness, people who use barbell pads are often using very heavy weights, which is intimidating to most members. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or you don’t know much about PF gym), Planet Fitness has its own rules that are much different from regular gyms and fitness clubs. One of the most “famous” rules is to not create any Lunk-like actions that make other members feel intimidated (e.g., grunting, screaming, yelling, groaning).

Why are barbell pads not so common in gym chains?

Barbell pads are not so common in gym chains because while many gyms with barbells, squat racks, and smith machines typically provide them to reduce pressure on the upper back during weightlifting, not all gyms follow this practice. Some gyms may offer a limited number of barbell pads, but often, the presence or absence of barbell pads is a result of member inquiries and gym management decisions.

For example, I once worked at Virgin Active, a fitness chain with numerous members and trainers. The gym had two floors, 12 trainers, and over 10 thousand members. Apart from the army of treadmills and ellipticals, the Virgin Active gym also had 3 squat racks and 3 deadlift platforms. Despite having various exercise equipment, they did not provide barbell pads. I used to bring my own when I was training my clients.

Which gyms provide barbell pads for their members?

In general, the availability of barbell pads in gyms often depends on the gym manager and the personal trainers working there. If personal trainers at a gym use barbells and squat racks in their training sessions, it’s more likely that barbell pads will be available for their clients. Ultimately, the presence of barbell pads comes down to the fitness philosophy and practices of the trainers and staff at each particular gym. It boils down to who works in this gym and who uses the equipment.

If I see a personal trainer who is passionate about their work and understands the importance of strength training (and progressive overload), they will likely use barbell pads with their clients. On the flip side, if the personal trainer is lazy and only sticks to machines with their clients, chances are you won’t see any barbell pads in this place.

What should I do if Planet Fitness doesn’t have barbell pads?

If your Planet Fitness location lacks barbell pads, consider alternative solutions. While I don’t heavily rely on them, when I work with my female clients, barbell pads are mandatory (especially for hip thrusts). Thanks to Bret Contreras Ph.D., a founder of the hip thrusts, more women than ever are not only hitting the gym but also working on their glutes.

Doing heavy hip thrusts and squats is so much more comfortable when you have a barbell pad. However, if your Planet Fitness gym lacks a barbell pad, you can always use an alternative such as wrapping a towel around the bar or folding a yoga mat, depending on the exercise you are doing.

Barbell pad alternative for squats in Planet Fitness

The easiest way to create your barbell pad for Smith machine squats is by using the microfiber gym towel.

  • Bring an extra gym towel with you (you should have one regular towel for your exercise and one towel that will become a barbell pad).
  • Use a microfiber towel (they don’t take much space. Plus, cotton towels may give you comfort but they will also lift the barbell above your shoulder line).
  • Choose a small size (I recommend getting a towel that is no longer than 60 inches in length and 30 inches in width. Larger towels will add more unnecessary bulk to the bar).
  • Make a cushion (wrap the towel in the middle of the Smith machine bar. Position the bar just between your shoulder blades and traps).

Don’t forget to take your towel with you after you finish.

Barbell pad alternative for hip thrusts in Planet Fitness

For me, the most comfortable way to do hip thrusts in Planet Fitness is by making a barbell pad from a yoga mat or workout mat and placing it on your hips.

  • Take a yoga mat (You can usually find mats stacked up on the wall close to the Planet Fitness aerobic studio. I also use a workout mat).
  • Sanitize before and after (I always take a sanitizer spray from the cleaning station and clean the mats before and after).
  • Check if it’s comfy (Before doing anything, I ensure I can fold the mat. Planet fitness gyms often have a couple of different types of mats. Ensure the mat you take is flexible enough so it can be folded).
  • Fold the exercise (I always fold the mat in half twice and place it on your hips. When using the hip thrusts, ensure the mat sits comfortably right where you will place the barbell).

After you finish, sanitize the again mat using the same spray from the cleaning station.

Can you bring your barbell pad to Planet Fitness?

Yes, you can bring your barbell pad to Planet Fitness. If your Planet Fitness gym does not provide barbell pads, it’s a convenient option to bring your own, as many barbell pad brands are compact and easy to transport in a gym bag, often offering additional accessories like ankle straps, hip thrust bands, and resistance bands along with travel bags.

Which barbell pads are the best for Planet Fitness?

The best barbell pads for Planet Fitness include NEALFIT, MARSVSE, and Yes4All brands. These options provide comfort and support during workouts at Planet Fitness locations.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is a personal trainer and writer at Millennial Hawk. He holds a MSc in Sports and Exercise Science from the University of Central Lancashire. He is an exercise physiologist who enjoys learning about the latest trends in exercise and sports nutrition. Besides his passion for health and fitness, he loves cycling, exploring new hiking trails, and coaching youth soccer teams on weekends.

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