Remember, a spotter is someone
who is ready to help the lifter in case he or she can't complete a
lift. As someone who has chosen to lift a heavy object—often over
your precious head or neck—it's your responsibility to make sure you have
a spotter whenever you're doing an exercise that may jeopardize your
health and welfare. Probably the two most important exercises to
have a spotter for when you're using freeweights are the squat or
bench press, but there are not the only ones.
Again if you can't lift the weight, you're in serious trouble.
Even when you're using a machine
or doing freeweight exercises where your safety isn't jeopardized by the
absence of a spotter, a helping hand can help you get more out of an
exercise in two ways.
How? Everyone has exercises that
he or she finds particularly difficult. Let's say for you it's shoulder presses. Oftentimes, just having someone
stand next to you provides the extra motivation to focus and finish the
set with good form and maximum effort. Second, a spotter can help
you get a few extra reps out of any exercise by offering the barest
assistance. We've had spotters who nudged the weight with two
fingers who provided invaluable help.
As the lifter, it's your
responsibility to tell the spotter what you're going to do. Let him
or her know how many reps you're hoping to do, if you want a spot on the
liftoff (when you first pick the weight off the stand), and so
on. It's also your job to never give up on a
Soon or later, you'll be asked
to switch places and act as a spotter. In that case, it's your job
to ensure the lifter's safety. Here's the key: Never agree to do
something you can't. And if you're not sure what's expected of you,
ask. A good spotter is like a good baseball umpire—as unobtrusive as
as possible. Aside from an inattentive one, an overanxious spotter
is the next biggest sinner. Once you've ensured that the lifter
doesn't drop 200 pounds on his esophagus, the spotter's job is to make
sure that the weight keeps moving with as little assistance as
possible. Remember, you're doing the lifter a disservice if you
provide too much assistance.
If you see the weight stop
moving, give it a little nudge. (On most exercises that use a
barbell, you're usually best off by lifting the bar itself. In the
case of exercises that use dumbbells, it's usually preferable to nudge the
lifter's elbows.) Once you've done it a few times, you'll get the
hang of it. The most important things to keep in mind are to always
pay attention, don't jump in too soon, and stay close enough to the lifter
to help out whenever needed.