T Nation

The Spotter-Should Know What hes Doing

Well, I had an exciting lift today. Just thought I would reiterate the importance of a knowledgable spotter. So, Im doing squats and Im doing heavy ass singles. Ask for a spot, ask the guy if hes knows what hes doing, he says o ya. Well, needless to stay I get stuck half way up and this guy pushes forward on my hips–sending me doubling forward. I basically did a trunk twist with my max squat weight. The whole right side of my body, especially my knee is reminding me what an idiot I am for not making sure my spotter knows what hes doing!

THIS is a HUGE, HYOOOGE, pet peave of mine. It’s so, so, so unbelievably rare to find someone who knows how to spot. Even the trainers in our gym do NOT know how to spot.

And to be a knowledgable spotter is important. Thank god, I have one (Ko). But what is takes to be a good spotter is:

A)Be observant (to the person you are spotting)

B)Ask questions to the person you are about to spot. And LISTEN...

C)Be Honest, if ya don't think you can lift the weight - then don't spot .

It also takes some common sense, if you are spotting someone performing the squat , you would place your hands towards the front of their midsection. When someone loses their balance squating, the immediate reaction is to lean forward. Oh, and I could go ON about the idiot spotters on bench......Aye Carumba!

These days (after learning) I won’t even attempt to ask a person for a spot unless I know them personally. There is just a TON of trust that you put in that individual for that 30-60 second period. Most people do not know how to spot correctly. Stay away from the potential pain and injury ! Know your spotter and be confident that they know what the hell they are doing.

Well, I’ll throw this out for the forum. As many of you know, I live in Japan. There’s this extremely attractive 20-something blond woman (American) who used to lift at a local government-sponsored gym here. So she’s doing squats one day, and a male member of the gym staff is spotting her. Amazingly, he’s doing it right - hands under her ribcage or thereabouts. Anyway, she has some trouble with a rep and he’s there for her - only when he helps her up his hands are placed directly over her breasts.


Now, I know this guy pretty well (no, it WASN’T ME!), and I’m pretty convinced that he wasn’t copping a feel or anything. I also know ('cause I was watching) that there wasn’t any squeezing or kneading going on as she was coming up. It was just an unfortunate hand placement. Needless to say, though, she got pissed off and I heard her talking about “the incident” with several of her friends over the following few days.


So, what does the forum think? Was the guy right or wrong to spot her physically correctly but politically incorrectly? Opinions, please (especially from the ladies)!

Whenever I’m spotting a woman, I ask her ahead of time where she wants me to spot her. Odds are if she’s hardcore enough to need a real spot (as opposed to an on-the-bar one sufficing) she won’t care if a little hand-slippage accidentally occurs.

M’kay: I do know that Asians typically aren’t “touchy, feelie” types. But I really don’t think this had anything to do with this “incident”.

Simply? He should have explained to her the proper procedure of spotting someone performing the squat beforehand. I useto go through a "spotting session" with my trainees. In other words, the focus would be on spotting. Maybe he should have done something like that? Eh, char?

face it bodybuilding is a loner sport, so who the fudge knows how to help someone else? and add to that the fact that the squat isn’t a very common excercise. As for the hand breast issue gahhh… if you ask for a spot but are opposed to be touched it doesn’t make much sense. That chick needs to get over herself.

Male or female, if they ask me for a spot, it’s always dicussed how they want it before the set begins. However, if a woman is going to plant her face in the floor and possibly really hurt herself, it shouldn’t be a big deal if you touch her breasts.

When It comes to spotting there are some fucking dumbass mo fo’s out there. Even some big buff dudes, who think would know how to spot are absolutely pathetic. Ive had shitty spots countless times on the squat and its amazing I can still walk. People try to arm spot me when lifting an ass load of weight, do they actual think they can curl over 400lbs. Needless to say I come crashing down on the squat rack. Luckily im flexible enough to handle it. One time I even had a fucker try to spot me, but as I squat down I feel a thigh go up the crack of my ass throwing me all off balance and left me questioning my masculinity. Ive given up trying to find a good spot when not squatting with a friend and unfortunately stick to the smith machine. This brings up another good point. Why the fuck dont so called quality gyms have olympic style bumper plates and platforms so I could just dump the damn weight if I get in trouble.

This is just as much your fault as it is his. Bottomline: Don’t do max squats without a trusted spotter. I guess you know that now though. As for spotting on squats, it highly varies. When people used to ask me for spots on squats I always asked them where they want me to spot from. Some people prefer the open arm bear hug spot. Hand spots I wouldn’t think would help much if the lifter is not going to get the rep. Sorry to hear about your accident man.

Ok, I’ve got a question for everyone. I was watching a guy doing 1/4 squats with 225 one day getting pissed off(I don’t know why they make me so mad), then he went up to 315 and did a few more. Then he put 405 on and asked me for a spot. Well, I don’t know if he was homophobic or what, but asked me to just spot with my hands on his sides. I wasn’t really comfortable with that, and asked if he was sure, and he said yes. Well, when he started his rep, I let him get to what I considered a good squat, but unfortunately that was about a foot past what he considers a squat, so he was on his way down and there was nothing I could do spotting him at the sides. I spotted a workout partner for years on heavy squats and never once let him bottom out. So am I at fault for listening to how he wanted to be spotted, or is he for not letting me spot him properly?(or did he get what he deserved for doing shitty squats?)

His fault, not yours. Don’to spot those people.

COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION!! It’s exactly what everyone else has said. If you’re going to be the spotter or spottee then you must communicate about what your/their expectations are. I think that if I were the female in Char-dawg’s scenario and I was about to get crunched, I wouldn’t give a shit how someone saved my ass as long as they saved it. Of course, I’d joke about my being a dumbass and his being “fresh” and suggest a replay of the incident over a beer later - just to make him blush. :wink:

Everyone has some painful memories of getting a bad spot. Well my school gym had max 100lbs dumbles, I was doing overhead tris with 125. My training partner always held a 25 lb plate over the dumbell, not very hard to do. One day, my partner was not there and I asked this guy if he can help me. I explained very well what to do, but that dumb mofo dropped the plate on my head, luckily I saw him early enough to get out of the way and the plate brushed against my head giving me another little head on my head. I can understand not spotting correctly but him dropping that plate really pissed me off. It could have been much worse, but that was my lesson and I plan not to repeat any more mistakes like that.
As far as spotting a women is concerned, I think it is better to ask how she wants to be spotted. The blond should not have made a big deal out of it, esp if she asked for a spot, but on the other hand I have seen a couple of trainers at my gym that like to give spots (only to women) even when not asked…now in this case I can understand some of them getting rightfully mad.

Speaking of spots. I was benching the other day and was finishing my last rep of the last set. I was at a sticking point in my bench which i’ve been working on correcting, the rep had slowed down a bit but i was still lifting it on my own. Next thing I know some jackass, wearing a squat belt by the way, comes over and rips the weight off my chest. I seriously wanted to rip his arms off and beat him with them. If I need a spot I’ll ask for one *sshole!

If I’m really training heavy and want a spotter, I always discuss how to spot me beforehand. And I always make sure I know the person as well. I don’t want “just anybody” spotting me. But usually, I don’t have to worry about it because I lift a weight I know I can do. And even if I need a spotter, they rarely have to touch me or the bar.

I really hate people that ask me for a spot, and then I have to most of the lifting on every rep. A guy did this the other day. He had 365 lbs on the bench. He wants to do one rep. I give him a lift-off and then proceed to upright row most of it. DAYUM! Then he strips the weight down to 315 for his next set and asks for another spot. This time, he decides to crank out 3 forced reps (where I’m doing the lifting). DOUBLE DAYUM! Finally, he drops to 225 lbs, and wants to rep out. Only, he couldn’t get more than the first two reps completely on his own. After that, I was adding more and more help on each rep. Did I say DAYUM yet?

LESSON: If you can’t lift the weight on your own for at least one rep, then it’s too damn heavy!

Fuck, where should I even start at. Spotting is probably the most unappreciated, and something a lot of us take for granted. Not all spots are the same. I think it?s just as important for a person to learn how to correctly spot someone on a particular exercise as it is to actually perform the exercise yourself. I think there are 4 common mistakes in spotting that happen way too often. #1, helping too soon, #2, helping too late, #3, helping too much, and #4 helping too little. I?m a damn good spotter if I do say so myself. The biggest thing to spotting, is what you all have said, COMMUNICATE AND LISTEN !!.. I could write a long essay on spotting.

last week the same thing happened to me I went up to the most weight I have ever done squatting and on my 3rd set of 4 on the 4th rep I lost my base and fell forward. The bar got caught right under the pins of the power rack so I was stuck. I told my spotter to get a someone to strip the bar as I knew any attempt to pull me back and up would kill me. He said no I can help and proceeded to lift one side and put it on a pin leaving one side on the pin and the other off and my back in a horrible position finally the he did the same to the other side my lower back has hurt for 2 weeks and I have not squatted since… BASTARD!!!

Well, I agree that communication is the key. Unfortunately, in the scenario above there was a pretty wide language gulf - she didn’t speak Japanese and this guy doesn’t speak much English. Also, a spot is more or less obligatory for “safety” reasons at that gym. (And he did a good job. No question there.)


I guess I could have interpreted for the two of them, but I didn’t see the need - at least until the set was over! Then there was a bit of discussion, which I did my bit to facilitate.


I personally thought that the lady made a little too much out of it, but then again it’s hard for me to put myself in her position. If it were necessary for someone to place their hands on my package during a spot I think I’d probably object, too. Then again, if it saved me from injury… And then again again, if it were a female trainer it might not be bad at all… :wink:

Spotting for a squat certainly requires more attention and proaction that for anything else I can think of. I usually make fists and begin squatting with the person once they show signs of nearing fatigue. I reach my arms around near, but not touching the obliques, at each side of the rib cage, just below where it opens. I move up and down, squatting in parallel with each rep. Once I determine the person needs help, I press my forearms in and start assisting. This way, you tend not not grab the person in front with your hands and pull them backwards. Much less chance of honking someone’s horns!