Tip: How to REALLY Spot the Bench Press

Spot like a pro. Here's exactly how to do it.

If you're a regular in the gym, it's only a matter of time before someone asks you for a spot. And nothing shows your inexperience more than not knowing how to spot properly. Here's how to be a good bro and spot correctly.

  1. How many reps are you going for?
  2. Would you like a lift-off?
  3. Do you want me to keep my hands close to the bar when you lift?

Asking how many reps the person is going for will let you know when the lifter may need assistance. There's nothing worse than having someone prematurely assist when you still have reps left in the tank. It ruins the entire set, and you only get so many chances at your heavier sets before fatigue sets in.

Asking the person if they'd like a lift-off will keep it from being awkward when they go to unrack the bar. You should also know that some people get distracted or nervous if you keep your hands close to the bar when you spot them, so ask first.

Spotting Bench Press
  • Do use an over/under grip when spotting. This ensures that the bar won't slip out of your hands should you need to pull it off.
  • Do guide the bar out of the rack if the lifter requests a lift-off.
  • Do keep a strong flat back and assume a ready stance. You don't want to strain your lower back should you suddenly need to offer a large amount of assistance.
  • Do keep your hands close to the bar if that makes the lifter feel more comfortable.
  • Do offer assistance if the bar comes to a complete stop and starts going back down.
  • When offering assistance, do guide them past the sticking point while allowing them to do the majority of the work.
  • Do use up to three spotters if the person is lifting more weight than one person can spot. Persons two and three should be at either end of the bar.
  • Don't put your crotch right in the face of someone bench pressing. You're there to help, not to T-bag them. Nobody wants a whiff of rotten crotch as they're trying to press heavy weight either.
  • Don't yank the bar off the rack on the lift-off then let go suddenly. This is jarring and causes the lifter to lose tightness in the back.
  • Don't offer assistance before the bar comes to a complete stop and starts traveling back down. Nobody likes a spotter who gets overzealous at the first sign of difficulty.
  • Don't yell "You got this!" if the bar has come to a dead-stop on the person's chest and they start flailing their legs.
  • Don't stand so far away from the lifter that you can't actually assist if you're needed.
TJ Kuster is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), specializing in mobility and injury prevention. He coaches at Method Sports Performance in Bloomington, IL.