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How To Spot Like a Pro in the Gym (3 Easy Steps)

Want to know how you can be the best spotter possible and never ruin another person's set?


Man spotting female powerlifter on heavy barbell back squat to keep her safe

We've all seen it before somewhere.


A person going for a heavy rep on the bench press, and the spotter basically does massive upright row with the bar before the lifter even has a chance to tackle the weight and try to press it up themselves.


Or, we've seen spotters that are completely useless and aren't even able to give the lifter a hand when they actually need it.


Both of these scenarios would likely need to an angry lifter, a defensive spotter and a heated argument in the middle of the gym.


Not only is it extremely frustrating for the lifter who had his or her set impacted, but it's also pretty embarrassing for the spotter themselves.


That's why to prevent this from happening to YOU, we're going to go over the 3 easiest steps you need to take to look like a pro whilst you're spotting in the gym (on any exercise), plus give you some more handy tips at the end to ensure your job as a spotter is fully mastered and done right.


Let's dive right into it!


Preparing for the Spot


Before you even begin the set with your lifter, you need to make sure that you're going in fully prepared, knowing exactly what your lifter wants and when you might be needed.



For example, did your lifter want help unracking the bar? Or were they going to do it themselves?


How many reps are they trying to hit?


Is this their first time trying this kind of weight?


Before you begin your set you need to know exactly what your lifter wants from you, and be sure that you're able to follow their instructions.


Before you guys start the set you should try to ask some of these questions to know a little more about your lifter and their set.


  • How many reps are you going for?

  • Do you want help unracking the bar?

  • I'll only touch the bar when you say so, or it start moving back down. Is that alright?

  • Is this a PR attempt of any kind?


Asking these questions is going to allow you to really be prepared for your spot and not have any big shocks when it comes to learning about things that the lifter was expecting you to do, but never told you about.


Spotting During the Reps and Set


Man spotting woman on barbell bench press and helping keep her safe

Alright, this is where most people seem to get it wrong.


If you want to spot effectively, you need to know exactly when to touch the bar, and exactly how much to help them on the way up if they aren't able to get it themselves.


Some people think to grab the bar or help the lifter yank it up as soon as the bar starts to slow down.


This is extremely wrong and should not ever be done. It's only going to lead to angry lifters and bad connections within your gym.


Other people might think that unracking is their only job, and go on their phones or forget to actually help the lifter in case they need it.


This is also bad, and could even lead to some pretty serious injuries if you're not careful and the weight is heavy enough.


You do not want to allow this to happen.


So How Should You Spot?


Well, the job of a spotter is not to yank the bar up as soon as the bar starts to slow down.


It's not your job as the spotter to do the work or the lifting.


Instead, a spotter's job is to make sure that the lifter is safe and isn't going to hurt themselves going for a rep that they can't actually get on their own.


So really, you should only touch the bar if the following occur:


  • the bar completely stops and doesn't look like it's going to move back up

  • the bar starts moving back down

  • the lifter tells you they need help.


Aside from these three cues, there really aren't any other times you should be touching the bar.


And even then, when you o touch the bar you shouldn't be doing all the work for the lifters unless something has gone wrong (such as a sudden injury or something else).


You shouldn't be doing all that much lifting as the spotter.


You should really only assist as much as you need to, and still allow the lifter to do the majority of the lifting. You just fill in the gap that they aren't able to themselves.


That way, the lifter still gets something out of that rep instead of simply failing it. They'll still get some good strength work done from that rep, and still make a little more progress towards their end goals, whatever they may be.


Check out the awesome video below by the Vision Twins to see how to properly spot!


Please note that while this example is specifically for the barbell bench press, the same can apply to lots of other exercises where you may be asked to spot as well.



Motivating Your Lifter


Another important aspect of spotting that lots of people forget or fail to do is to motivate your lifter and encourage them to push harder.


Unless your lifter specifically tells you not to say anything during the set, you should be looking to motivate them and help them push harder to get more out of their sets.


When they start to struggle on their reps, just give them a little bit more confidence!


Just take a look at Jesse James West's video below, and see how much hype his spotters are giving him on his bench press PR!




Your motivating doesn't necessarily have to be that loud (it probably shouldn't), but just make sure that you're putting in a little bit of effort in helping motivate and push your lifter go for more.


It's going to make a world of a difference for some people.


Oh, and of course you should always help the lifter rerack the bar. just to make sure that they're completely safe before stepping away.


And there you have it! Those are the three steps you need to take to spot correctly in the gym, and make sure everyone has a good lifting experience around you!


Now as we near the end of this article we'll give you a couple more handy tips that you could use to further level up your game and master the art of spotting!

Don't Get Distracted At All


One of the biggest mistakes that we see spotters making is getting distracted and not actually being there for their lifters when they need them to be.


For example sometimes spotters will help unrack the bar, and then go off to chat with their friends or scroll away on Instagram and TikTok.


Then the lifter fails a rep whilst the spotter is completely distracted, and everything turns into a mess.


Don't get distracted, and keep your eyes on your lifter until the set is over and the weight is safely put away.


Check That You're Strong Enough to Lift That Weight


Man spotting friend on barbell bench press

This likely isn't going to happen all that often, but sometimes spotters agree to spot weights that are far beyond the weight they could actually handle if the lifter was to fail.


We've seen videos of men bench pressing upwards of 180kg (~400lb) and having a person behind them that wouldn't actually be able to lift the weight if they needed to.


It's happened before, and it just leads to a massive mess that nobody wants to deal with.


If someone asks you for a spot and you don't think that you'd actually be able to handle that kind of weight, politely tell them and go find someone else that would be able to.


They'll appreciate your honesty and desire to keep them safe.


Try to Spot Evenly


This one doesn't happen all that often either, but sometimes we see people spotting the bar pretty unevenly, and only focusing on lifting one side whilst completely forgetting about or neglecting the other.


This is a massive mistake, as it's only going to throw the lifter off and potentially ruin their rep.


To avoid doing this, simply grab the bar evenly and make sure that you're lifting up with even pressure on both sides.



Conclusion


And there you have it.


The quick, 3-step guide to being the best spotter your lifter could ask for.


Simply follow these steps, follow any other instructions or requests that your lifter gives you and you'll make the lifting experience a positive one for everybody!


We hope you've found value in this post, and were able to learn something from it!


If you did don't forget to share it with your friends so that we can reach more people, and help more people reach their goals in fitness safely!

Do you think you've mastered the art of spotting in the gym?

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