I’d ask for a show of hands, but I already know that this scenario has happened to all of us.
You need to use a piece of equipment for a lift in your programming. Could be a squat rack, or a cable, or a machine. But oh no!!! Someone is using it! What do I do? Usually there are several avenues we could take.
1.) Wait until it becomes available. This is usually the path I’d take, because in a perfect world we want to stay as close to the designed programming as humanly possible. You may need to set a time limit for that particular piece of equipment if you’re in the gym either before work or on your lunch break, but if it becomes available within a certain amount of time go for it. Unfortunately in the times of Covid, sharing or ‘working in’ is frowned upon.
2.) Find a similar movement to substitute in. Not ideal, but sometimes we have to make it work. Example: if you need a cable to perform a seated row, but the cables are taken, don’t think of it just as a row, think of it as a horizontal pull and substitute in a chest supported row instead. And in all honesty it’ll probably get you a better contraction anyway because the path is already set for you.
3.) Wait, and come back to it later in the workout. Sometimes people camp on equipment. It sucks, but it happens. Public gym 🤷🏼♂️. You can always move on and come back to it, because the volume still matches. The obvious problem here is that we may be more fatigued by the time we get around to the movement we skipped, so we may have to adjust load and/or volume accordingly.
Another thing to consider- there is absolutely nothing wrong or uncouth about approaching someone between their sets and asking them how many sets they have left. Be direct! Don’t make it weird. If the person has a problem with you asking that, they’re probably just being a dick. Don’t let them ruin your energy.
As always- if you need help, ask!