Spotting

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Spotting

Postby Marks1972 on Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:00 am

Thought id write a few notes about spotting as its a bit of a bug bear of mine.

Ive recently moved from a gym with a lot a experienced lifters to a quieter more local one with a more health and fitness vibe and noticed some bizzare practises when spotting, some annoying, some downright dangerous.
In all spotting you should remember that (in the words of Mark Rippetoe) you are there for safety, not to assist in the lift. You may help your friends ego by helping him get that 100kg up on the bench, but at best you are hindering his or her progress and at worst you are putting them in danger by letting them think they can lift more than they can.

The one other role the spotter has aside from safety is encouragement, however i suggest that you dont really do much of this unless you know the lifter as it can be quite off putting otherwise.

So here's my quick guide to spotting a few of the more common lifts, feel free to point out an mistakes :)

The Bench Press (all variations)
Probably the most often badly spotted movement. How many times have we seen people 2 man this lift turning into a press and upright row combo. There are 2 phases to spotting the bench, the hand off (or hand out) and then the press itself.

The hand off can be quite technical, especially for powerlifters as a good hand off can be the difference between a good lift and bad lift, but lets stick with the basics. In order to be clear of the rack the lifter may be pressing the bar from several inches away from it, this means in order to move the bar from the rack to the start position the lifter may be taking the bar front above or behind their head, this means it can take a fair amount of effort or even be dangerous with heavier weights to get the bar into the start position without a hand off.

On a pre determined count, both the spotter and lifter take the weight off the pins and move the bar to the start position above the lifters chest (the exact spot will vary on the type of bench press, ie incline,flat, decline and wether or not the lifter is pressing as powerlifter or bodybuilder, as a powerlifter will press more from the lower chest/upper abs to be able to move the maximum weight, whereas a bodybuilder may press slightly higher up the chest to get more pectoral recruitment and a better stretch). This needs to be done smoothly, keeping the height at the lifters full extension. Overlifting the bar or letting it drop can throw a lifters rhythm, this is where a regular training partner really helps as you get to know where your partner needs the bar and it becomes second nature.

Once in the start position, with the bar steady and the lifter with locked elbows, you need to communicate with the lifter to determine when to let go of the bar, the lifter may say 'yup' or 'ok' but whatever it is, make sure the lifter is ready to take the full weight.

Once you have let go, get away from that bar, dont put your hands under it, over it, near it... its not your lift, you are there for safety reasons only. The only time you should get involved during the lift is if the bar travels back towards the lifter on the positive part of the lift(as they press away from the chest),if they clearly are not able to move the bar upwards any further or at the lifters request (usually signalled by such cries as 'oh shit...take it, take it).

On the last rep (as signalled by the lifter) you should assist in guiding the bar back to the rack, again as smoothly as possible.

And your done, not only have you given a good spot on the bench, youve probably earned some respect and trust from the lifter who will be happy to return the favour.

Spotting isnt just an invaluable safety aspect of gym training, its also a handy icebreaker if youre new to a gym, life becomes much easier once you have a few people around you that can assist when needed and of course its nice make a few new mates in the gym.

Will follow up with the Squat, but for now id best do some work :)
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Current gym PBs - Deadlift 280kg, Squat 230kg (knee wraps and belt), Bench 160kg (wrist wraps)
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Re: Spotting

Postby kp1512 on Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:13 am

Good post mate! Agree totally!

The Arched Bench Press and simultaenous Deadlift is awesome to watch in my gym lol.

In a bench the bar doesnt need to be touched till its stationary for at least 2 seconds Id say - then a slight guide - spotting is an art!

Squatting spotting is also an art -
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Re: Spotting

Postby Rab on Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:46 am

Mark. It would be good if you could summarise that into 5 or 6 bullet points for ease of reading.

One thing i make a habbit of doing when spotting on the benc press is to lift the weight off and then ask loud & clearly if the lifter has got the weight...and not let go untill they let me know they are good to go.

Good post
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Re: Spotting

Postby Marks1972 on Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:50 am

Good point rab, will do when i get more than a few minutes to ninja browse :)
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Re: Spotting

Postby Karlos on Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:33 pm

That's a great post mark, almost felt like i was reading some t-nation material there, without there subliminal advertising for 'surge' etc. :D I hate nothing more than when you ask someone to spot you and the lurk over you with their hands all over the bar!..it's like they're urging you to fail.
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Re: Spotting

Postby SCOTT GALTON on Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:39 pm

if some one asks me to spot on the bench i make sure they do the work. Im only their if it stops moving
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Re: Spotting

Postby Marks1972 on Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:00 pm

Im seeing it so much in this new gym. Im starting to chat to some of the lads in there now, and once I feel i know them enough to mention a few things without sounding like an arse, i will do, but its just painful at times.

Will get on to doing a mini guide for spotting the Squat at the weekend.
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Re: Spotting

Postby Hillman on Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:11 pm

Really good post there mark,i train at the same sort of gym as you and have a real problem finding some who i trust to spot me which normally means i can't go really heavy.
Can't wait to see the Sqaut spot....
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Re: Spotting

Postby kp1512 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:06 pm

Hillman wrote:Really good post there mark,i train at the same sort of gym as you and have a real problem finding some who i trust to spot me which normally means i can't go really heavy.
Can't wait to see the Sqaut spot....


same here - hence why I used the rack but now I cant even get someone to pull it out the rack! [and its not even heavy when you compare to the beast PL's]
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Re: Spotting

Postby Rorschach on Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:10 pm

El Marko's just got over some laryngitis, and is waiting until the new year to start training again. He's avoiding thr forums, as he'll get annoyed that he's not training.
Also because he hates you all. Especially you.

He's also rediscovered beer, so he'll have a proper PL physique.
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Re: Spotting

Postby Will on Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:30 pm

This is what I do for bench:

Ask the guy if he's ready.
On the same count lift the bar.
Position the bar ready for him.
Tell him it's "his bar".
Let him take the strain
Remove my hands
Let him rep

Now depending on the agreement sometimes they may want to do negs if so I'll help with that.

When he starts to struggle offer him encouragement.
Make judgement call if there's another rep or two or none.
If he struggles to lock out and is getting nowhere I give a little assistance for the last push.
If I see him start to fail or struggle I will be ready not touching the bar but be there ready to help him.
Usually they tell me when "it's gone"

It may not be perfect, but it helps give people confidence that there's someone there. Sometimes I do help with the last rep or two just to keep the rythmn going though.
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Re: Spotting

Postby Rab on Wed Dec 17, 2008 1:55 pm

From a BB point of view, if you have a good spotter He/She can give just enough assistance to force out say 2 reps that you wouldnt have managed on your own, the last of which being a negative maybe.

For Squatting, a good spotter will help guide the Squatter off the hooks and into the position. Your hands yshould be at either side of the squatters torso in preparation to hok the hands through onto the chest to help them up if they stick in the hole or decide to nose dive forward.
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