How to be a Good Spotter and Workout Partner

Share

Question: My training partner nearly got me killed last week and in light of the accident with the USC football player that had his larynx crushed by a barbell that he dropped, I need someone to enlighten my workout partner on the proper way to spot someone.
Answer: Heavy weights and lackadaisical attitude about the potential for harm from the weights can put a person at higher risk than necessary. The football player who was injured made a couple of mistakes that led to his near death experience. For openers he was using what we refer to as a “suicide grip” on the barbell while he was benching. This is a grip in which your thumb is not wrapped around the bar but allows the bar to settle in your palm with your thumb under the bar. No only is this a high risk way to bench but actually impedes your potential strength. Usually it’s harder on the carpal ligament in the wrist to use the suicide grip when using heavier weight but once the individual gets used to a way of training it’s more difficult to take the time to change, reduce the weight and to learn to change the grip. Gripping the bar forcefully and keeping your wrist locked allows the stress of the weight to be driven through your skeletal structure along natural lines of support which allows greater force to be applied to the weight. It also has been said that he did not have a spotter on the exercise. Always use a spotter when you do an exercise and have a weight that has the potential to crash down on your head or one that could trap you beneath it.
A good spotter on the bench press will give you a “lift off” as you remove the weight from the rack and keep his hands in place until you are secure and ready to begin your reps. During high intensity training he should keep his hands in an area between the bar and your chest, not necessarily touching the bar but close. Once the bar speed begins to decrease, he should begin to apply pressure to keep the rep speed constant. By doing this he will prevent you from stalling on the rep, using accessory muscles to try to complete the lift or changing body position and form to finish the rep. Keeping the rep speed constant also makes his job easier since you are still doing the vast majority of the work.
When using dumbbells a good spotter should support from the elbows and keep the rep speed constant from there unless you appear to have the potential for the dumbbell to lose control and fall back towards the body. In those instances, support the lift from the wrist. For heavy squats, the spotter should position himself behind the lifter in a synchronized movement with the person squatting supporting along the outer pecs and shoulders when the upward movement slows as well. A really good spotter also know where your stall point is to insure that you don’t get stuck there.
Good training partners sharpen each other and are aware of the other’s strengths and weakness to help each other to maximize their potential keeping each other safe during potentially dangerous lifts.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

Share