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How To Spot, How Not to Spot

I’ve Been Lurking on T-Nation For a while Now, and have read pretty much all the Articles. but the one thing that would help me is Advice in How to Spot the Major Exercises and How not to spot.

I’ve seen so many Variations over the Last couple of years from the Obvious and Effective to the plain Dangerous and Stupid.

the Gym Monkeys, I mean Personal trainers at my local are not Exactly useless, but close.

Can anybody point me in the Right Direction ?

Cheers.

PhatPete (not as Fat as I was thanks to T-Nation, but still working at it)

I can give you the best answer you’ll get. If you get asked “Hey, will you give me a spot?” and you answer yes, immediately follow that yes with a “How do you want me to spot you?” If you ask someone to spot you, tell them exactly how you want to be spotted.

[quote]jp_dubya wrote:
I can give you the best answer you’ll get. If you get asked “Hey, will you give me a spot?” and you answer yes, immediately follow that yes with a “How do you want me to spot you?” If you ask someone to spot you, tell them exactly how you want to be spotted.[/quote]

Good point. I only get asked when someone’s benching, and I ask them if they want a lift, and if they don’t want my hands in view.

I will let them struggle with the weight as long as it’s still going up, and I’ll only help a little if it’s stopped completely.

I don’t like when someone touches the bar too soon. I’ve gotten some new PR’s in the bench that were very, very slow.

For squats (I’ll try to explain this as non-gay as possible, NTTAWWT), I’ve been spotted by the guy behind me hooking his arms under my armpits and squatting with me, sort of like a zerker squat for him I guess. He wouldn’t lean forward, more like pull me in towards him, and up at the same time.

I’ve seen DB bench, or overhead DB presses spotted at both the elbow, or at the wrists. I prefer it at the elbows if at all.

If someone ask me for a spot, I will ask questions to make sure I know what I am doing. If it is an exercise I have never spotted I let them know. If I think it is too much weight for me to handle, I let them know.

If I have someone spot me, I tell them how many reps and to let me struggle a little bit. I have had guys rip the bar out of my hands when I know I could have benched it.

On any type of Dumbbell press(chest, shoulder)I’d have to vote strongly for the spot to occur at the wrist or forearm.
Being a compound movement, if the spotter pushes under the elbow at a rate that is not what the presser plans for… someone has problems.

The benefit of a wrist/forearm spot is that a few well timed pulse squeezes will help the presser press more than usual. Noticeably. Give it a try.

I too ask them how they’d like me to spot.

i.e. “How many reps are aiming for?”
“Do you want me to wait until you say help?”

Also I leave them to push it out if they look like they’re going to make it.

I just usually say “man I couldn’t lift that weight if I had to. For your own safety, you should ask someone else”

Just make certain that they know how you want to be spotted. One time at a new gym, I made the mistake of not telling a guy how to spot me on squats. I figured that since he was the biggest guy in the gym, he wouldn’t need instructions. Oh, I almost forgot, he had the biggest UPPER body in the gym, with broomstick legs.

It never occurred to me that he didn’t have the foggiest idea of how to spot a squat. Anyways, I’m having trouble on my last rep with 315 and this idiot tries to pull me up by the back of my belt which, of course, dumps the weight over my head.

It was my 8th rep of ass to grass squats and he had the nerve to say that it was just too much weight for me. Still pisses me off when I think of it and it’s been at least 20 years ago. Squats should be spotted like SWR-1240 explained.

I will usually ask them if they want a lift off the rack (for bench or overhead presses) and what they are shooting for as far as rep range.

I generally don’t ask them when they would like the spot, I just do it when they ask for it or when the bar is about to crush them :slight_smile:

One thing I absolutely hate is when you spot someone and they really make you work to finish the rep and then like a jackass they go for another rep as if you didn’t do half the work. When they pull that crap I let it go all the way eccentric until they get the fear into their eyes so they don’t try another rep.

It all depends on whom u r spotting, always ask how many reps, and if they need help with the bar, and remember if you touch that bar, the rep doesnt count!!

The description for spoting a squat was good. It’s hard to describe, get a buddy and practice it with some lighter weights, it’s a good skill to have. To be honest, I don’t trust anyone to spot me while I’m squating unless I know them. I made that mistake once, got lucky, and will never do it again.

I was doing a max triple. I knew I’d get the first two, the third was questionable. As I’m grinding out the first rep, I felt his hands on my elbow’s. Like WTF?? I just finished the rep, dumped the bar, told him I didn’t need him, and then nailed the triple without him. I usually don’t have a spot for front squats. I don’t agree with missing lifts very often, so normally I never have an issue, but with front squats, it’s so easy to just dump the weight forward into the rack anway, it’s not worth the hassle.

And when spotting a bench, none of this fingers on the bar shit. That drives me insane. First of all, I need a spot because it’s heavy, so the weight obviously means something to me. I guarentee you you wont be able to lift it with your fingers, so why bother? Have your hands close to the bar, and when and if I begin to miss a rep, use an over under grip, lock your hands to the bar, and haul it up off of me. That way I’m very aware of what reps count and what don’t, and I know if something does happen, like a pec tear, the bar isn’t going to come crashing through your fingers and land on my neck.

[quote]suuuperdave wrote:
And when spotting a bench, none of this fingers on the bar shit. That drives me insane. First of all, I need a spot because it’s heavy, so the weight obviously means something to me. I guarentee you you wont be able to lift it with your fingers, so why bother? Have your hands close to the bar, and when and if I begin to miss a rep, use an over under grip, lock your hands to the bar, and haul it up off of me.[/quote]

I’ve spotted bench a few times for this guy that benches heavy (for my gym). Like you describe, I’m ready to grab the bar like I mean it with a deadlift (over - under) grip.

However, the guy benches heavy enough that all I could do in a real emergency is keep it from crushing him. It would be awkward and probably not good for my back. It’s almost time for spotters at the sides for this guy.

Ya, I mean a big bench is a big bench, there’s no way your gonna be upright row it sometimes. But just taking a good grip on it allows you atleast to hold it from killin him, and then he can push the rest up, which should be light weight baby. It’s all that can be expected from a single spot.

Personally, since I am 6’4" the underhook on squats rarely works. It’s hard to find anyone that knows what they are doing close enough to my height to do it properly. One thing that I picked up from a workout partner in the 80’s was one hand on the chest one on the lower back (right on the belt) and squeeze into an upright stance.

I always walk the spotter thru when to help, how much pressure to apply, and what not to do. It’s a matter of personal preference, but ALWAYS ask or tell what they or you want and expect. And i dont expect my wife, the treadmill bunny, to be able to pick up the weight I bench, I just need her to pull 10-15lbs worth.

Honestly, my wife is the best spotter I have used. She isn’t really strong enough to mess up the lift, but can take just the right amount off to let me get through the sticking point.

:slight_smile:

[quote]undesired08 wrote:
Personally, since I am 6’4" the underhook on squats rarely works. It’s hard to find anyone that knows what they are doing close enough to my height to do it properly. [/quote]

Yea, I hear ya. I’m able to get a good spot from just about anyone, but I’m not really tall enough to spot hardly anyone else with squats. It would be awkward to even try.

I guess that’s one benefit of being 5’5". I never would have thought about having one hand on the chest, and the other on the belt.

[quote]Matt- wrote:
Honestly, my wife is the best spotter I have used. She isn’t really strong enough to mess up the lift, but can take just the right amount off to let me get through the sticking point.

:)[/quote]

I found this to be true too. I’ve had guys come up to me when my wife’s about to spot me on bench, and ask if I’m sure I want her spotting me. She knows how I like it, and has seen what I can do so she knows when to help and when not to.

She has spotted me better than or as good as anyone else. If I got a tear or something where I wouldn’t be able to put any force on the bar, just about nobody else in the gym will be able to pull it off me by themselves anyway.

If I’m just barely missing a rep, and she can pull even 50lbs of it up, I should be able to rack it with her help.

[quote]SWR-1240 wrote:
If I’m just barely missing a rep, and she can pull even 50lbs of it up, I should be able to rack it with her help.[/quote]

Good idea! Then you would only have to rack the empty bar :slight_smile:

[quote]SWR-1240 wrote:
She knows how I like it[/quote]

HIGH FIVE!

[quote]Matt- wrote:
SWR-1240 wrote:
If I’m just barely missing a rep, and she can pull even 50lbs of it up, I should be able to rack it with her help.

Good idea! Then you would only have to rack the empty bar :slight_smile:

[/quote]

Yea, I finaly worked my way up to the big 25’s on each side! Now my only problem is getting those 25’s all the way from the weight tree to the bar.