Dumbbells line up in their racking at the gym

Why do Weights at Home Feel Heavier Than at The Gym?

Many people who do weight training at home find it confusing that the same weights at their local gym just feel lighter. Why is this? There have been plenty of reasons put forward to explain this difference by referring to the different materials used in different weights. Some weights may be constructed from cast iron or steel or concrete with an optional vinyl or rubber casing. However, these differences do not explain why they feel different weights. After all, 5kg of cast iron will weigh the same as 5kg of steel and rubber. They both weigh 5kg. 

Others explain this difference by saying home weights may be older or rustier than the weights at the gym and this rust adds to the weight fo home weights. It is true that rusty metal may weigh more because rust is formed when metal reacts with oxygen. Put simply, rust = metal + oxygen so rusty 5kg weights should weigh 5kg plus the weight of some oxygen molecules. These extra oxygen molecules will in reality, not weigh much and the rusty weight may even weigh less if any of the rust has flaked off. For the sake of argument, we can safely assume that any weight difference due to rusting will be negligible and not easily noticeable to the user.  

So, if we take for granted that home weights and gym weights are actually the same weight, why do they feel lighter at the gym? The real answer lies in one of two reasons. The first is the ergonomics of the weights. The weights at the gym may be designed differently, may possibly be smaller in size (and more dense) and therefore more comfortable or easy to lift. 

The other reason is psychological. If you are at the gym, surrounded by young men and women pumping iron for fun, the unconscious tendency is to conform and fit in with our surroundings. We do not want to appear be out of our depth, so we try harder which in turn makes the lifting of weights feel easier. 

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