Monday, December 17, 2012

How To Properly Spot Someone

   Nothing frustrates me more in the gym then being ready for a big lift on chest day, and the random idiot I ask to spot me helps on every set, lifts off for me, or keeps their hands near the bar.... Thus today we shall talk about spotting!

   Ok first, everyone is different, some people who are not interested in gains might actually want you to help on every rep so they look cool, some people may want hands near the bar, some people may want you to scream at them as they lift... But generally speaking, if you are spotting a random here's my guide, we shall do bench first as it is most common, but note other groups....


  • Do not lift off unless they ask, you should be able to lift off yourself on flat bench, on incline it is safer on the shoulders to have a little lift off.
  • Gentle lift off, if you need to dead lift grip the bar you are helping too much and the muscles will not ease into it as they should. I like to apply gentle pressure before the person is even lifting, we are talking enough to curl what you can curl for maybe 20 reps, not what you can bench or dead lift, very gentle on the lift off.
  • You don't need a big guy to spot, I've had these stupid kids that are around 180lbs refuse to spot me because it's too heavy, my friend Jeanine who is a 105 pound chick spots me fine, so does my sister Mary, my little brother too (when he was little, he is now a fitness guru as well), and I've had guys over 60 spot me, if you need a power lifter to spot you are either a power lifter yourself, or you are going to heavy to lift it on your own.
  • No hands! Unless requested, keep your hands back.
  • Forced reps, when the person you are spotting fails give them gentle help (unless requested) to get one or two more reps, I like to reinforce, ie. "Hardly helping you, keep going!" Now when I am maxing, I tell the spotter just to pull it up at full force for shoulder safety, but with lighter sets I take a couple of forced reps at the end.
  • You can talk if you want, I personally have my music on so loud that when my spotter is screaming "One more!", I can't hear him/her, but I appreciate the motivation, if your gym forbids this you may want to join another gym to make real gains.
  • Main thing is, make sure the person lifting, is lifting! Do not over help!


  • Apply all of the above chest principles
  • For pull ups help them from their feet, if you don't want to touch the dirty shoe have them curl their legs as they go from the shins.
  • For pull downs, gentle pressure inside their grip.


  • Apply all of the above chest principles
  • For military or dumbbell military press, spot from the elbows, push the elbows up, the most common request here is help on the first one as it is more triceps when the weight is that low.


  • Apply all of the above chest principles
  • I f--king love when someone spots me good on preachers, Biceps are very difficult to injure, never say never, but bi tears are rare, especially if your guns are still developing, to spot on preacher, give a massively slow forced reps, I like to ask the spotter to go slow enough so I cry in pain/pleasure.


  • Apply all of the above principles
  • A little easier to injure, so don't go as slow with bi's.
  • Recommended for two arm dumbbell extensions, spot from the bottom of the weight, keep a wide base at your legs so in case they drop it your feet are safe.


  • Apply all of the above chest principles
  • This one is fun.... If you are homophobic, it may not work out with a same sex spotter, you need to get your crotch around their glutes, arms under their arms, and go down with them, this is for safety of your back, so it's a bit different from chest spotting, if they need help you will both be squatting the weight up.
Is that your gym shorts or are you just happy to see me?

  • Apply all of the above chest principles
  • Calfs can only really be spotted on the seated calf press, after your partner has failed lift from the peak of the machine where you load the weight for forced reps.


  • Beats me, any suggestions there?

It's not rocket science, but I hope these tips help you, as always feel free to write me with any questions or comment below.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, consult a doctor or medical professional before beginning any diet, fitness, or weight training program.

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