Tip: Spot the Squat Like a Pro

The do's and don'ts of proper spotting.

Spotters are often needed during the back squat because many lifters just don't have experience dumping the bar. Squatting down with a heavy weight and realizing you don't have the strength to stand back up can be a frightening and potentially dangerous situation, especially if you don't have safety racks ready.

  1. Make sure you ask how many reps the lifter is going for so you're ready to assist when needed.
  2. Make sure you communicate that you'll be standing close and will under-hook their arms and help them stand back up if needed. This is especially important to mention if you're a male spotting a female.
Spotting Squat
  • Do make sure you're standing very close to the person you're spotting. Although this looks awkward, you need to be there should you see the person start to fail.
  • Do use a double-under hook under the arms to keep the lifter's chest upright should he start to fail.
  • Do maintain a strong flat back and use your hips to help the lifter back to a standing position. There's no way you're going to pull the lifter back up with your biceps alone.
  • Do offer assistance when the bar comes to a complete stop and the lifter starts to drop back down. Make sure you're using just enough assistance to get them past the sticking point.
  • Don't have your junk against the lifters butt for the entire duration of the set. You should be close, but this shouldn't look like you're grinding at the club.
  • Don't try to grab the bar when offering assistance. If the person you're spotting is lifting an appreciable amount of weight this isn't a good way to help him if he begins to struggle.
  • Don't assist before you're needed. That's annoying and ruins the set.
  • Don't stand so far back that you won't be able to offer assistance.
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.