When I was asked me to write this piece I was actually thrilled! Why? Because this is a topic that is rarely discussed, but yet carries so much importance in the gym! I mean, think of it this way – a crappy spotter will, at the very least, ruin your workout – BUT – at the worst, could leave you severely injured or even – dare I say it! Lets face it, the only time the letters “R,” “I,” and “P” should be associated with a workout is when you brag to your buddies just how RIPPED you looked in the gym that day! Here are 5 ways to ensure that the next workout you and your partner engage in is not a death-defying experience (or one that just leaves you feeling “flat”).
Rule #1: Pay Attention
As a spotter it is your responsibility to keep close watch on you partner from the beginning to end of every set. Looking around the gym at hot chicks or checking your Twitter page is not safe when your buddy is pressing or squatting a loaded barbell. I have witnessed many (bad) injuries as a result of these scenarios and each could have been prevented if the spotter was just paying attention!
Rule #2: Encourage Wisely
As a spotter your most vital role is making sure your partner remains safe. However, another important facet of the job is to assist your training buddy in having the best possible workout. Don’t just stand there in silence while he/she is pushing the weights! Instead seek to motivate him/her to focus, concentrate, feel the muscle and go for that extra rep. The more familiar you are with your partner, the better you will know exactly what to say to get them to “step on the gas!”
Rule #3: Keep Pace
Aside from always showing up late, dilly-dallying between sets is one of the best ways to let your partner down. Make sure that when you are done spotting your friend that you are preparing yourself for YOUR set. A successful workout requires a proper rhythm, and when you constantly throw it off, you will ruin the experience for the both of you (and stimulate less muscle growth and strength).
Rule #4: Use the Right Touch
To be a great spotter you must acquire the skill of “the touch.” This simply means that you apply just the right amount of pressure to the BB, DB or machine so that your partner can complete the rep with as little of your help as possible. You should never allow your partner to get stuck, nor should you ever “lift the weight” for him/her. Serious bodybuilders often make the best spotters because they know exactly what THEY want when needing assistance while under a weight. That said, with practice, anyone could learn “the touch” and become a HALL of FAME spotter!
Rule #5: Proper Positioning
This is another very profoundly important rule in the “spotting game,” and one that you should discuss with your partner before he/she even touches a weight. Each lifter has their own preference on “how” they wish to be spotted, especially with free weight movements. For example, when performing DB presses, some trainees prefer to have their partner assist by applying pressure under the elbows, while others like it better to be guided by the wrists. Make sure that as a spotter you ask your partner what works best for him/her so that you can do your job as effectively as possible.
Eric "Merlin" Broser -CEO B Built International www.b-built.net -Natural Professional Bodybuilder/Judge/Advisory Board Member -Columnist @ Natural Muscle/www.muscleandfitness.com -Creator of the FTX2™, PRRS™, FDFS™ and O-Bey-6™ Training Systems