To Spot or NOT to Spot

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Spotting, some term the gym junkies use. Question is…do I know what it really means?

Maybe one day you’ll be asked to spot, and then you’ll be glad you kept reading this!

Here’s the scenario; You’re in the area where the guys bench, and you see a barbell stocked with the amount of weights that could dock a small boat. You see the chap wanting to lift this business and you think to yourself this guy is insane!! As he positions himself under the bar you see that clip on the Internet right before your eyes where the guy got trapped under the weight… So you approach the guy and politely offer to spot him…

Spotting in weight or resistance training, is the act of supporting another person during a particular exercise, with an emphasis on allowing the participant to lift or push more than he could normally do safely.75461481


Here are a couple notes on spotting someone:

Q: How do I spot someone using dumbbells?

A: Spot the wrists, not the elbows. If he loses control of the weights, he’s more likely to collapse at the wrists and have the weights fall of his face…so be ready to catch them. Spotting at the elbows only makes you do the work he should be doing!

Q: What are other exercises people need a spot for?

A: Any dumbbell or barbell exercise that occurs where the weight will be overhead or over  the chest. Do not try and spot Olympic lifts. You can also spot various machine exercises, but more so to add intensity for the guy training than a safety reason.

Bench presses and squats should always be spotted whenever possible to ensure safety and also technique.

Q: When should I not spot someone?

A: When they don’t ask for it, or on the aforementioned exercises that shouldn’t be spotted. Never spot someone purely to help them get more reps or lock a rep out, they should be able to do that alone or else they’re going too heavy.

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Jaco Claassens  |  Sports Scientist