The pursuit for gains might be a personal journey, but it oftentimes takes more than individual effort. When starting out, you might be able to move weights with your own effort. With time, your muscles adapt to the loads, and for the sake of progress, you have to increase them. This means pushing yourself into new territory, and your muscles might not be able to react the way you want them to. Almost invariably, the solution is to find a spotter.
Spotting is more than good gym etiquette. It is an indispensible part in the quest for fitness. It achieves more than building a sense of community in the gym – it helps you push farther than you could have done by yourself.
Perhaps the biggest argument for squatting is that it provides a sense of safety. When you are lifting heavy weights, it is natural to want to stop at a certain point because you fear risking injury. But with a spotter, these limitations fall off, and you are free to push as far as you can go.
The art of spotting
Spotting should not be random, and neither should it be done by someone inexperienced. This is because mistakes are easy to make, and the outcome is often injury.
It is necessary to understand expectations so that your spotter doesn’t offer too little support, or two much. By discussing what kind of assistance you want, you set yourself up for success.
Good spotting technique is essential. If not executed well, the purpose is sadly defeated.
For this classic movement, you need to know if your buddy needs help unracking the weight. If they do, you should grip the bar with both hands, inside their own grip, and bring it to the starting position. During the start of the set, keep your hands close to the bar without touching it. Only assist when the weight looks overbearing, when called to help. You do of course have to help with re-racking the weight.
Spotting a squat is a bit more technical, because unlike the bench press where you are lifting the bar, here, you are lifting the person lifting. The best place to be is behind the lifter, with your arms hooked under theirs. Keep your hips back, and your arms low to allow them the correct range of movement. When the lifter looks shaky, or is stuck in place, bring your arms together under their chest and assist in completing the rep.
For dumbbell presses (chest, shoulder), ask the lifter the kind of support they need- either wrist or elbow. When spotting, especially from the elbows, ensure that you are pushing the weights up, and not in, as this might lead to injury if their muscles give out.
Having a spotter, or asking for one, is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary- it is an indication that you want to push your limits. A good gym buddy thus becomes a needed catalyst in your quest for gains.
Your fitness pal