Being a great spotter is an underrated talent that you should develop.
Most people walk into a fitness center with their “Mister/Miss Independence” hat on. In other words, unless they’ve hired a personal trainer, they’ve decided to make their fitness journey a very personal one.
Think about it—how many times have you been at the gym working out, and you look over and notice someone grunting and groaning while trying to finish their last weight reps?
Or how about when you see someone swinging weights around recklessly while their body rocks back and forth. Talk about a torn tendon or sprained muscle ready to happen!
That’s because many gym-goers are either too intimidated by other people in the gym who are in better shape than them, or sometimes that they are too shy to ask for assistance. Other times, as mentioned previously, people can get set in their ways and just want to do everything the way they’re used to doing it—and that’s that.
Unfortunately, each and every year, thousands of people hit complications when they decide to “go it alone.” Training without the assistance of a spotter can not only result in not getting enough motivation to have awesome workouts, but also a higher propensity to sustain minor or major injuries.
We’ve assembled some tips for you to check out and add to your gym-etiquette. Remember, when people see you reaching out to spot people who may be struggling, that may motivate them to do the same. Kindness is contagious.
The first step is probably the most important one. Each person that you are going to potentially spot has their own particular way in which they like to be spotted. Therefore, it’s not wise to simply walk up and assume you know what they like.
Ask them about their preferences with regards to whatever exercise they’re about to perform, whether they be working out on a Smith machine, on a weight bench, or any other sort of fitness equipment.
For instance, if they’re doing squats, ask them how they’d like to be spotted. Some people like to have hand pressure applied on their hips, while others like guidance on their lower ribcages. Communication is therefore key.
# 2 Assist Wisely
This can be tricky because unless you’ve been spotted by someone, it’s hard to tell how much assistance should be lent. Just keep these two simple rules in mind—you want to help them with the weight just enough so that they’re still doing the majority of the work. Conversely, you never want to assist them so much that you’re practically lifting the weight all by yourself.
Helping someone too little can result in them getting stuck during a rep, while lifting the weight too much can make them feel cheated of accomplishing anything. Find that middle-ground and implement your spotting game from there. A great way to learn is to have a personal trainer spot you so that you can see it from the lifter’s perspective.
# 3 Encouragement Wins
This is a huge one, and can make the difference between you being viewed as simply an “okay” spotter, or a “great” one. Instead of just standing there and remaining silent, try encouraging your lifting partner to push themselves further. Here are some examples:
“Come on, you can do it!”
“Feel those muscles contracting, focus on them!”
“Last rep, you’ve got it – make it count!”
These motivators can seem minute, but to the person lifting, can be the boost they need to push themselves, and turn a “ho-hum” workout into a super-intense one.
# 4 Keep Up the Cadence
Some spotters tend to get distracted by either checking their cell phone constantly, or engaging in idle chit-chat, even with whom their spotting. This is a big no-no and can throw the workout rhythm off completely.
Concentrate on whom you’re spotting, and make sure that you keep a regular pace going, with just enough rest in-between sets. Too many distractions can bog a workout down and take away from its intensity.
Turning “Good” into “Great”
Simply put, training with a spotter can elevate any workout from okay or good, to great. People who get proper assistance from spotters can help them in achieving their fitness goals much sooner than they would without one. Just remember, safety is always paramount, so when in doubt, consult a professional fitness trainer if you have any questions.