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The Art Of Spotting!

Not many people in the Pilates Spandex era of today know how to properly spot someone. Learn why most spotters suck and a hilarious story of two jerks in my old gym.

Not many people in the Pilates Spandex era of today know how to properly spot someone. They think that standing over them and dripping mist from their balls onto someone's face is considered spotting. This is why lifters get hurt in the gym. Tonight was chest night. I started on the flat bench and was doing 3x3s with a friend who competes nationally in powerlifting and strongman comps. He spots me, I spot him. On these nights, we tend to draw a small crowd from the people who aren't usually there when we are.

Why Most Spotters SUCK!

Nowadays, most people go to the gym and are quiet and mousy when they lift. You might hear someone fart or hear an occasional whimper. You mean even hear a guy say, "I'm the same size as I have been for three years, but I sure can warm this bench up while talking to this high school girl who thinks I'm the shit." This is the stupid f*ck who talks to some girl ten years his junior, hoping he can score with someone besides Handgela. You know the type. But you rarely hear, "Move that bar you fat f*ck. I'm not going to lift this shit for you and drain all of my energy for your stupid ass," too much anymore. Among my friends though, it's the rule.

So I'm sure the people standing around us thought I was being a cock to my training partner, but in reality, as anyone who REALLY works out knows, you are just trying to get him to focus and put all of his effort into those last few reps. You don't want him to hurt himself, so you may have to put your fingers under the bar and help him nudge it past the sticking point. You don't want him to blow a rotator cuff...

That would f*ck up your next set and you'd have to find someone else to spot you. And that would be a royal pain in the ass. After we did flat bench, he left and I moved on to inclines. Steve, a regular at my gym, was between sets on the incline bench and I asked if he needed a spotter for his next set. He accepted and we had a date. He got under the bar and I was about to step onto the platform to help him unrack it when a high school kid jumped onto the platform saying, "I got it." Steve looks up and says, "f*ck that. The last time you spotted me, you couldn't even help me rack it." I push the kid aside and spot Steve. Steve returns the favor.

Spotting Steve sparked a memory from years ago, way back in '86 I think it was, when I saw a spot go terribly wrong. My lifting buddy and I worked out at Beckwith's Gym in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This gym was the most hardcore gym I've ever been to. It was smack dab in the middle of the ghetto in downtown Grand Rapids, above a hair salon. Tim and I lived in the 'burbs and we rode our bikes there every day after school to workout. That was 10 miles each way (leg days blew ass... only insane people do cardio on leg day, let alone ride 10 miles home). Needless to say, we did HIIT training before it was called HIIT training.

There were two guys who worked out at our gym. They were complete polar opposites of each other. DeBarge (that wasn't his real name, but that's what we called him because he was tall, skinny, and had long-assed hair that always dripped Jeri-Curl Juice) and Grizzly Adams (so named because he had a huge Copenhagen-filled beard and dressed like and screamed like a lumberjack when he lifted). DeBarge was insane. He weighed about a buck sixty and would do this little Michael Jackson squeal every time he repped. I remember seeing him do deadlifts with 315 and he squealed like he was going to hang one in his pants. Grizzly, on the other hand, just screamed a lot and used pure shit form when repping.

Back to my tale.... It was hot as shit out and all of the windows were open because:(a) we were upstairs and (b) the smell of perm from coming up downstairs was making everyone high. Everyone was sweating like hell. I was f*cking around and trying to drip sweat onto Tim's forehead while he was under the bar when we heard DeBarge say to Grizz, "Put another plate on." We looked over and saw that he had 405 on the bar. Now remember, he was only 160 pounds, with Jeri-Juice. We sat back to watch the show, 'cuz this was going to be an amazing f*cking lift.

DeBarge gripped the bar and Grizz helped him get it off. He lowered it and started to push it up. Meanwhile Grizz had starting talking to Grizzelda (so named because she looked like Grizz, except the beard, and yes, she f*cking chewed Copenhagen too) and stopped paying any attention to his partner. DeBarge had reached the sticking point and his left arm suddenly stopped looking like it should (if you've ever seen this type of shit, you know exactly what I mean). It took a few seconds to register wtf was going on.

Instead of yelling for Grizz to get the f*cking bar off of him, or dumping it (he had collared the bar, so there was no way he was going to dump that shit) DeBarge started whimpering, followed by loud screaming. Grizz looked down with a look like he just got booted square in the sack. Tim and I rushed over, grabbed each end and racked the bar for him. Then we called the ambulance.

Later On...

A few months later, DeBarge came back to Beckwith's. This only difference was, this time he had a scar about 4" long going from his anterior delt head to his posterior head. The moral of the story? Don't be talking to your mirror image with tits when you should be helping your partner push the shit through the ceiling. Know your partner's limits and always be aware of the need for help. If Grizz would have hoisted on the bar, or even shrugged the whole load for him, DeBarge wouldn't have gotten so f*cked up. That's a hard way to learn about courtesy and respect.

The Lad