You’ve likely heard seasoned weightlifters refer to the practice of “spotting” for each other. You might have even been asked to spot for someone else. But what exactly does that mean, and why is it important?

Spotting refers to the act of standing by as support while an athlete performs certain weightlifting routines.

A spotter’s job is to stay tuned in to their friend who is under the weights, notice physical and verbal cues, and step in to help lift the weight when need be.

Having a spotter standing by is especially important when you’re doing an activity like bench pressing at a very high weight.

Having hundreds of pounds suspended above your vital organs is always going to involve some level of risk, even for the strongest athlete. A sudden cramp, slip or just fatigue can make it impossible to finish a set. In extreme cases, the weight can even fall.

Research shows that having spotters on hand as backup where needed is one of the surest ways to reduce lifting-related injuries. 

Some of the main exercises that benefit from the help of a spotter are bench pressing, squats and dumbbell presses. Although some athletes might choose to have a spotter on hand for a deadlift, that’s usually considered more for psychological support rather than necessity since in a deadlift you can usually drop the weight if need be without injuring yourself.

Psychological support is, however, certainly a key part of a good spotter’s role. A spotter can cheer you on, hype you up and push you to do your best.

Especially if your chosen spotter is more experienced at a particular movement than you are, they can also offer feedback on form or on how much weight you’ve loaded onto your barbell.

As you’ve likely guessed by now, spotting isn’t a role to offer to your friend who just starting hitting the gym with you yesterday. For each type of lift, there is a specific stance needed for maximum safety.

You’ll also want someone who lifts as heavy as you do so that they’re even physically capable of lifting the weight when necessary. Plus, familiarity with what safe, accurate form looks like will give your spotter a lot more ability to be clued in to where you might need someone to step in and support.

An experienced spotter will also be able to help identify the number one biggest risk factor for weightlifting injuries: lifting too heavy.

Taking on too much weight too soon results in the break down of proper form, which always increases the danger of any exercise. Lifting with too much weight greatly increases the chances of not being able to complete a set unaided.

Spotting for each other is clearly a crucial part of safe and effective lifting, just one of the many benefits to being part of a dedicated gym community. If you’re looking for a community to improve your lifting life, find out what Texan Fitness has to offer!