Tik Toxicity: How the social media platform is ruining gym culture

Ridiculous lifts and viral videos on TikTok are poisoning the culture. What can we do about it?



We need to decrease the toxicity spread through GymTok.

Andrei Black, Staff Writer

You just hit a new bench PR (personal record) and you couldn’t be more excited. All your hard work has paid off, and your once “impossible” PR is now a hard-earned accomplishment. The feeling is remarkable, and you want to celebrate and share your success with others, so you head to TikTok to post your achievement. 

Only, the second the app opens, the first thing on your For You Page is someone tripling that PR you were just celebrating, doing the same lift for reps. That feeling of pride shifts to a reality check that your PR isn’t as significant as you thought. 

There you go—Tik Tok ruined the accomplishment of hitting that personal best that you worked so hard for. You no longer want to post your achievement— no one would care and they’d just scroll past. Why would they watch my video when someone else is lifting much more weight with ease? 

As the biggest social media platform in the world, Tik Tok is everywhere. The range of lifters on the platform vary tremendously, from beginners to seasoned professionals. As of 2023, the workout section on Tik Tok has brought in over 111 billion views. If we look at what videos bring in the most views, it would be people lifting incredible heavy weights in the gym. The heavier the weight lifted, the more views gained; and those who are lifting less weight, get significantly less views. 

In today’s day and age, people often compare themselves to others. We are so focused on getting recognition that we lose the importance of the actual achievement PR. If I don’t get a lot of views, then my lift must not be good. 

TikTok has not only changed the standard of what is considered a good lift, but has created a platform in which people compare themselves endlessly as they fight for views. 

Before TikTok existed, a 225 lb bench was considered good, and anything over 315lb would be exceptional. If we look at lifts now after the perception changes brought on by TikTok, a 225 lb bench is scrolled past without a thought—it would be a bottom tier bench. To be considered strong you would need to bench at least 315 lbs.  Check out dimitri4_265, who routinely pulls in a million views for putting up heavy weights.   

As of 2023, a 315 lb bench puts you in the top 1% of all Americans, so how can that only be considered “good” or “strong”? It’s because we’ve been brainwashed into seeing 315 lbs as a standard due to lifters putting up numbers into the 600s. 

With this being said, the people who can’t lift that heavy often get negative feedback and feel that their PR is not worth the post, that it’s not even good. This causes a lack of self confidence and ultimately destroys that feeling of hitting a PR. A PR is a mark of progress and improvement that should never be put down by anyone. 

You shouldn’t compare and despair about how heavy you lift just because someone else lifts more. Everyone is at a different point in their workout progress and the importance of a PR is not to show how much weight you’re lifting, but to show your improvement.

Let’s stop putting people down just because they can’t lift and meet an unfair standard set by Tik Tok. NO ONE has the right to tell you what is a good lift or that your progress is invalid. Progress only matters to the individual putting in the work, not the people viewing it.  

With this being said the issue of comparative blues goes way deeper than just the gym. Countless people suffer from comparing themselves to other people and deal with a lack of self worth and self love. Whether it’s comparing the color of their hair, what they look like, their weight, social status, etc., it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Everyone has an insecurity, something that they wished was different. 

When it comes to lifting, remember: everyone starts somewhere, so lets remove the crazy standards set up by an algorithm. What truly makes someone strong is putting in the hours despite all the temptations to quit.