When weight training in any sense there comes a point where your strength may reach potentially unsafe levels. I mean this in the sense that you may be able to squat a weight that could do you harm if you went too far past the point of failure, or be able to bench press a weight that could crush a ribcage if the same were to happen. In cases like this the safest way to train is with a “spotter”. A spotter is usually a training partner or someone who will stay with you throughout the exercise to give support if for any reason you start to fail on the rep. This is vital in my opinion on exercises like bench press, overhead pressing or any exercise where you are in between the weight and gravity.
Another time a spotter is used is when you are using the training principle of training to failure. If you are comfortably doing reps with a weight then stopping it is unlikely you would need a spotter. However if you are training past the point of comfort and ability in order to get “forced reps” then you will need someone to give you that extra little push to get the reps when your muscles may not be physically capable of it. This is vital in this form of training and in my opinion this form of training is the best way to make gains in size and strength due to natural adaptation. For this reason then you must have a GOOD spotter. Here are my tips to spotting someone correctly.
1. always make the person you are spotting feel safe.
When someone is using a large weight that could potentially injure them the last thing they want to be doing is worrying about their safety. They need to be concentrating on actually performing the reps and lifting the weight. Therefore the spotter must make them feel safe and secure in the knowledge that they have a good spotter incase anything should go wrong. This trust generally comes from time training together but can also come from the spotter being reassuring and positive in what they are saying. I gerenally use expressions like “I’m with you” and “I’m here if you need it”.
2. Only help enough to complete the rep.
When I see a lot of guys spotting they tend to take the weight entirely off the person doing the rep so it makes that rep too easy. Ive seen guys load way too much weight onto the bench press then their spotters fool them into thinking they are lifting the weight when in actual fact the spotter is taking at least 20kg of the weight. It is counter productive and doesn’t give the trainer the full advantage of forced reps.
3. Concentrate on the person you are spotting.
A good spotter should always know how many reps their trainer has left in the tank. Make sure you observe the peson you are spotting carefully in order to know at what point you need to start spotting. Don’t come in too early and take the weight and don’t stand around whilst your training partner is dropping a weight on themselves unbeknown to you. This is the key to helping your training partner get the most out of their set.
If you don’t have a training partner or access to a spotter and you are wanting to use heavy weights you can also use spotting stands or power racks with spotter bars. I urge you to do this and don’t try to use weights that you may struggle with on your own. It is dangerous.
So if you are training with a partner or someone asks you to spot them remember these 3 tips and spot them properly. The person you are spotting will benefit from it greatly and probably be very grateful for a good spot.