The Few & Far Between: Good Spotters!

Learn why spotting is so important and why it is so hard to find and keep a great spotter!
It's a Wednesday evening and I'm preparing for leg day. It's a nice walk to the gym from my dorm, but still cold, and I continually think about the pain I'm about to experience. I walk in, and things aren't as packed as the afternoon thankfully, but you know this time of year, everyone wants to get ready for spring break.

Finding A Training Partner

I get ready for my first set of lunges when I noticed a short and slight in build Asian lifter perform clean and jerks. 35 lbs on each side with a 45 lb bar, I'm thinking to myself "Hey, at least we have some real lifters." The lifter continually performs reps and at the end of the set throws down the bar like in the fashion of Ronnie Coleman. If I had only known.

Well lunges are over, and I already feel like going home at this point. It's as if I've completed an entire excruciating leg workout in a mere few minutes and my legs are still screaming from the agony and stress they've just undergone. Well I better get my head strait, because now its time for squats. I realize I'm going to need a spotter if I wish to put my limits, and lo and behold, who comes to mind but the slight Asian whom is writing in his note pad. I ask for a spot, and SHE gladly agrees. What! I'd thought it was a male all along because of short hair, but lo and behold, it's a female!

I don't give it a second thought, and as I bend down for my highest weight attempts yet, she spots me perfectly, continually telling me to keep going even when my body tells me to give in. Every set she pushed me past my limits because of her ability to spot unlike most people who haven't an idea how to offer proper help. She to my amazement actually has correct form when spotting a squatter.

To a certain extent you have to think, here is to my guess an 85lb, 5'4, Asian woman whom couldn't recover the weight I'd drop (she probably could actually) yet she is giving me the confidence I need to push through new weight limits! I finish my sets and earnestly thank her for her help and then inquire as to why she is there. It ends up she competes in Olympic lifting competitions and travels around. Who would have known? Well she then goes and proceeds to squat 2 times her bodyweight without a spotter! I know that we truly need more people like her in the gym.

Being A Worthy Spotter

If you want to be a real spotter, you must offer help mainly to inspire and motivate the lifter forward into new areas they think they cannot reach. The spotter isn't there to help perform the lift, but merely to offer inspiration and a safety check to give the lifter confidence that they can push beyond there bounds and continue on though they feel they have nothing left.

I found the best spotter ever in the least likely situation I ever thought would arise, yet if this woman can do it why are there so many spotters ruining the sets of others. I will never forget this experience, and it drove me to write this article because of the lack of ability and knowledge that most spotters hold. So here are a few tips for the novice spotter (most everyone) that you can take to the gym next time to help your partner or that random person to drive into new poundage territory.

    1. Never help lift the weight. Merely offer the image that you are helping lift the weight, which in turn motivates and creates a placebo affect that boosts the lifters confidence.

    2. Never allow the lifter to quit until they have gone past their limits. Continually prod and push them to keep going and offer the verbal motivation they will need under such pain and pressure.

    3. Set the weights up for your lifter. Sure most people share the opportunity, but if they are using some of their built up intensity to place weights and losing track of their focus, their lift and intensity will not be what it could.

    4. Don't ever talk during a set or make jokes. If your truly a serious bodybuilder, focus on creating the best results possible and pushing each other further than possibly thought.

    5. At all times make sure that you have control of the situation. One slip or mistake and injury could occur.

Are you going to be another average spotter that rarely helps or motivates other lifters or your partner? Or are you going to be that spotter that everyone knows hold's the knowledge and ability to take their training to whatever level possible, and to bring out the best of others? You choose.

Jonathan S.

If you have anymore questions you can e-mail me at or Instant message me at my name WorldMuscle.