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Spotting Your Workout Partner In The Gym

The technique of spotting your partner is an important aspect of strength training, especially when it comes to utilizing free weights.  If you work out in a gym setting with others, chances are you’ve been asked for a “spot” by another gym-goer.

Sorry, this isn’t a cheat sheet on how to pick someone up at the gym…so if I just burst your bubble I apologize!

Very few people are ever taught how to spot someone, so here are 7 few quick tips to help you look like a pro the next time you’re asked.

7 Tips- Spotting during Strength Training

  1. Ask the person how they would like to be spotted.  For dumbbells, they might like some assistance under the elbows as they push the weight.  Some might like some help at the wrists.  Let them direct you on their preference.
  2. Ask them how many reps they’re shooting for on the particular lift. If they’re hoping for 8 reps and you’re assisting them at 2, they may not appreciate that.  Get an idea of what they expect and then base your assistance around that and when they actually need your help.
  3. Do not take the weight away when spotting or provide too much assistance. They may need some slight help, so encourage them to do the work by giving them the right amount of assistance.
  4. If you’re spotting someone who is bench pressing, always ask them if they need assistance on the lift-off. Don’t assume they do or don’t.
  5. Spot around the waist on squats, and not on the bar. As they rack the weight at the end of the lift, follow them forward but do not force them or push them forward in any way.
  6. On certain exercises you should NOT spot a person, like on deadlifts, cleans, etc. They should be doing those lifts on a platform that allows them to safely drop the weight if needed.
  7. For someone who may be lifting very heavy weight (on the bench or squat, for example), 2 spotters may be necessary….one at each end of the bar.  If you’re not comfortable spotting on your own, definitely ask for another to help out.
  8. Finally, encourage them as needed, but do not scream and make a scene.  Focus on doing your job!

About the writer: Ken Grall is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and owns and operates an Edge Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Ken.

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