How to Be a Better Spotter
Just because you're not the one on the bench doesn't mean you don't need to put in work.
Working out can be alone time for some, while a source of camaraderie and support for others. Regardless of whether you chose to be the lone warrior or workout troop leader, being able to provide a solid spot is a must-have skill. Next time a fellow man is in need, have these five tips under your belt. KNOW THE LIFTER'S GOAL AND STYLE Is the lifter going for a maximum record or a high repetition burnout? Does he perform slower repetitions or is his tempo much quicker? Does he want you there “just in case” or to play an active role? When it comes to being a better spotter, understanding a lifter's style and expectations is critical. There's no time for awkwardness. Our Advice: Before he is prepped and ready to rock, find out the lifter's previous stats and how many reps he's aiming for. Ask if he would like you to be there for each and every rep, or to stand back until he really needs you. Spotting is a partnership—some work, some don’t. So don’t be the loose cannon who yanks the bar before the lifter really needs help, and also avoid standing idly as he painfully begins to lose progress. The weight should always be moving forward. CREATE A STABLE STANCE Your assistance was requested for support, so be sure you’re physically able to provide it. If your partner's in a jam, you've got to be in the best physical position to hook him up. Our Advice: If bench press is the exercise, stand behind the bar with a stance wider than shoulder width, getting yourself lower to the ground and securing leverage from your legs if needed. Same goes for a seated shoulder dumbbell press. Getting low will enable you to rely less on your hands and arms alone. It's no big deal if he fails to complete the lift, but possibly disastrous and embarrassing if you fail to complete the spot. BALANCE YOUR ASSISTANCE We can only try to train our bodies to be as symmetrical and equally strong on both sides, but we’re not perfect. Right arms are stronger than lefts, left legs are stronger than rights. Everyone's different and it’s your duty to be aware of and support lagging areas. Our Advice: Make sure you’re always applying equal assistance in all areas. Spotting for a barbell bench press is best when hands are shoulder width, with the bar in your hands palms up. As for the seated shoulder dumbbell press, cup your hands below the elbows and watch the lifter's wrists to see if they buckle. During the exercise, check with the lifter make sure you're not favoring one side over the other. Be mindful when he begins losing his balance and form—it’s your job to keep him level. COMMIT AND ENCOURAGE He came to you because he saw someone he could trust. Make sure you're there with him for the long haul. Our Advice: Don’t daydream, look in the mirror or check out the hot chick that just walked by. Closely watch every single repetition and quietly count with him. There's no need for screaming and yelling, but small words of encouragement can make a huge difference. MIND YOUR HYGIENE Bad breath is gross and no one wants to writhe in another man's sweat. Spotting can get up close and personal, so don’t make things more awkward by slacking on the deodorant. Our Advice: Have gum or mints—no one can push a bar with the added weight of your dragon breath dragging them down—use your towel to wipe off excess sweat so you're not dripping into his eye and, for God's sake, wash your clothes, stinky.