Ultimate Spotters Guide

July 06, 2015


A true friend lifts you up when you’re down. Much the same, a training partner can provide a safer training environment, push you past your fatiguing point and is someone that you can count on to count your reps. However, training with a friend is not always advantageous to your goals. It may slow down your workout, they may overcompensate for some of your lifts and it can be difficult to find someone as serious as yourself to get the work done. For those of you who have found a bro to share all your PR’s with, we’ve teamed up with Renegade Training Founder John Davies to provide The Ultimate Spotters Guide.




“Within the elements of human will and team camaraderie are the bonds of a training partner that can play an enormous role in development despite rarely being mentioned. Part of the responsibility of a training partner is understanding the role and importance of being a good spotter. Whether you’re spotting for your training partner or merely helping a stranger in the gym, there are important implicit rules of etiquette for a spotter you should know.


The first step of being a good spotter is respecting the fact that this is a serious responsibility. I cannot stress this point sufficiently as the priority of a spotter is SAFETY and an error can possibly lead to injury.


Spot just as you wish to be spotted. Treat every rep and every set as seriously as you would treat your goals. An athlete and a spotter are a team. Work together.



  • Focus – Be alert and focus on the safety of the individual lifting to aid them in facilitating their best performance. If one is more focused on the provocatively dressed girl in the squat racks more than managing a proper spot in the bench press, they are clearly not capable of the responsibility of being a spotter much less deserve a place on the floor with REAL ATHLETES. A weight room is a place of work where the dedicated MAKE THEIR DESTINY.


  • Safety – Despite every satirical reference of a spotter shouting ‘one more rep’, the focus of the spot must be on safety. Once the quality of the movement drops; get the bar into the racks in a safe and efficient manner. If each rep of each set requires a spot, clearly the weight should be reduced.


  • Business – Do not distract the lifter in any manner. Witty banter and clever anecdotes are not so witty and clever for an individual serious about attaining their goals.


  • Know your limitations when it comes to spotting the bench press. This obviously is more for a situation like asking a stranger for a spot, but the spotter must be able to manage the weight on the bar comfortably. The time to perform your rack pull max is not when spotting a bench press.


  • Knowledge of goals – A good spotter will understand the rep range of the desired set and plan accordingly. This can obviously vary from preparing for a max effort or assisting with a long duration set of forced reps.


  • Cleanliness counts – Do the little things prior to the set given that the lifter is finding that zone and wipe any sweat off the bench and certainly off of yourself, too. Don’t grip a bar with sweaty hands and absolutely never drip sweat down on the person you’re spotting.


  • Prevention – Double check to ensure that the bar is loaded properly and well-balanced, like with bands and chains, given that the lifter can often be so focused on their goals so odd errors can occur. Furthermore, double check the equipment and that the pins are in working order.


  • Don’t spot the Squat – Squat racks are decidedly a no spooning zone. This will annoy some people, but the era of the odd ‘squat hug’ must come to an end. It is near impossible to maintain proper form and proper movement if spotting in the squat racks. Choose a weight that you can manage and not a weight that manages you.


  • Lift off – A proper bench press requires a lift off, so provide it accordingly. It is an anatomical impossibility, albeit we all have tried in vain, to set up properly for a bench press which includes pinching the shoulder blades back, creating a back arch and then lifting the bar from the racks. Provide a lift off and the problem is solved.


  • Where to spot – The place of the spot will vary upon exercise and preference of the lifter. Understand the latter and further take a safety first stance with a choice of location of the spot.


  • Bonus tip – a good spotter wears compression shorts on Bench day. Consider wisely.


Simply put, take the role of a spotter very seriously. Provide a safe, inspiring environment and each day you and your training partner will be one step closer to your goals. #BeUltimate”.


TEAM USPlabs Anthony Thomas and Amanda Gable


Prepared by John Davies


Follow John


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article. Content contributors are not employees of USPlabs. Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.


The information provided in this article, as well as this web-site blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice for any condition. Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. By reading this disclaimer, you hereby agree and understand that the information provided in this column is not medical advice and relying upon it shall be done at your sole risk.

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