T Nation

Article about spotting

There were some good comments recently about squatting; How and how NOT to spot an exercise. I think T-Mag should publish an article on the little documented fine art of spotting. Whaddaya think, Gang?

Yes. And e-mail a copy to every chain gym in the US and ask them to post it at all their facilities.

With pictures.

Yeah, break it up by exercise, because the technique definitely varies. Single spot for the run-of-the-mill help, and double and triple spots for the heavyweight lifts. How 'bout it Shugs, anything in the works?

Does anyone here squat with the bar in front of them, with your elbows and forearms crossing over each other, and your palms over your chest? (sorry if what i’m saying is hard to visualize). I’ve tried this method a few times but I cannot go heavy. Is there a way to do this successfully?

L_O_W, the movement is called a front squat. It can be found in Coach Davies “Renegade Bodybuilding” article, as well as several others on T-Mag.

Being able to go heavy is largely a matter of being truly comfortable with the exercise. The more you do it, the better you'll get and the more weight you will be able to do.

Essentially, if you're doing them body-builder style, it's about learning to feel truly balanced with the bar in a somewhat precarious position. Also, the bar tends to dig painfully into the shoulders and clavicular region; the pain will detract from how well some people can perform the movement.

Aside from getting used to these factors over time, you have other options. You can attempt to do this lift power lifter style, where you squat with the bar in a cleaned position. A lot of people lack the flexibility for this. If you start with very light weight you may be able to teach your body to do it.

Another option would be to buy a Sting Ray. This is a piece of molded plastic that fits along the neck and shoulders and in which the bar rests. It should allow you to do front squats with a lot more weight. I am not giving a very good description, but the Sting Ray was reviewed in a previous "Stuff We Like" column; an online search will also bring up a lot of links.

Keep at the front squats. They're a great quad movement and will get easier over time. Hope this helps.

Not a bad idea. Which T-mag writer would be best do you think to tackle this topic? This may be tricky because I’m sure there are different schools of thought on spotting. One person’s “right way” may not be anothers. And what exercises would you like to see covered besides squat and bench?

How about a “Spotting Roundtable”? Or “Squating Roundtable”?

Let's read about them different thoughts.....

Im not sure which writer maybe a couple different one’s? But some exercises id like to see would be miltary presses, hvy skullcrushers, and push jerk.

Have Dave Tate do it. He probably spots the most weight.

I’m sure Ian King probably has about 15 volumes of tips on how to spot effectively…

Chins and dips. All kinds of dumbell and barbell presses. Squats are the ones that are hardest to spot. Can I just go off topic for one second to say People, please use the safety brackets in the power rack. They will not do you much good if you leave them around knee-level. Thank you.

Thanks a lot John! I think i’m going to incorporate the front squat and replace them in the ‘warm up’ sets I do before going heavy. Like you said, it’s just a matter of getting used to the movement. Also it’s the psychological factor of visualizing 8 plates digging into your shoulders that has been putting me off. thanks.

Dave tate would seem to be the logical choice simply due to the fact he has to know proven methods with the weights he hoists.

How about resurrecting the Gang of Five for this? Tate/Simmons, King, TC/Chris Shugart, Coach Davies(for overhead squats etc), and a forumite(Or a consensus from a thread on the topic).

The roundtable sounds good to me too. However, there are some general things that the average lifter always needs to know, such as: learning to read when the lifter is nearing concentric failure; not heaving your breath into the lifter’s face (and vice-versa); wiping your face before spotting flat bench lifts so you don’t sweat into the lifter’s eyes; asking the lifter what kind of help he wants (takes into account experience of lifter); knowing when to tell the lifter to “rack it” once you have approached your limit of help (takes into account INexperience or poor judgement of lifter); lift-off assists, with countoff, etc. The stuff you’re likely to encounter at most gyms. From there you can get into the advanced techniques. For starters, coaching the lifter verbally (a whole number of supportive phrases); letting the lifter know when they’re getting imbalanced (‘push that LEFT ARM…LEFT ARM…’); teaching form by gently guiding flailing elbows (newbies).
I think Shugs could use some more help working up an outline for the article guys. Let’s give him a run down of some more ideas and exercises to cover.

I think a Spotting Roundtable or Gang of Five type style of discussion would be fantastic: Ian King, Dave Tate and Paul Chek would be the three I would most like to hear from.