Spotting a bro is harder, if not equal, to the angst of giving birth; It is, especially when you push your bro to go beyond his limits. Spotting your bro is when you form that special connection with him. It brings your souls closer and makes you inseparable (in a completely hetero way).
Before we dive into how to spot a bro, here are the factors you need to consider while looking for a bro to spot you:
1. Weight of the Bro
Make sure that the weight of the bro who’s going to spot you is in right proportion to the weight you are going to lift. You can’t ask a skinny bro to spot you on an incline bench with 315lbs on the bar–unless you feel like having someone do somersaults over your now-decapitated body; decapitated because skinny bro let the bar guillotine your ass.
2. Knowledge and Experience
Don’t make the mistake of asking a newbie for a spot. Whenever you’re asking a bro for a spot, make sure he knows the in’s and out’s of bodybuilding. This is especially important for compound movements like the squat and bench press. He should be able to control the weight if you hit failure or lose balance.
3. Proper Technique
Yes, you read that right. Just like lifting there are techniques for spotting. If your spotter does not have the right form, it can prove fatal for both of you.
If you are confused about the last point, don’t be. I’m here to save your life.
Let’s jump onto the proper techniques for spotting a bro on compound movements on the next page!
1. Bench Press
Not knowing the proper technique of spotting on the bench press can hurt your bro and you don’t want that (unless you’re in prison).
This is the right way of spotting your bro on the bench press:
Take a Spotter’s Stance – Take a wide stance and place one leg in front and the other behind. This will make sure you have a stable core, so when you need to lift the bar off your bro when he has reached failure on a heavy set, you don’t risk falling over whomever you are spotting (refer to point one.
Determine Rep Range – Just to make sure everything goes as planned, you need to have a tactic in mind. This will also help your bro put the right weight on the bar and will give you a clue when to come in.
Ask Your Bro if he Needs a Lift-Off – Many bros on the bench press like saving energy on the lift-offs. So you will need to ask him if he wants you to take the bar off the rack.
Grip – Use a cross/alternating grip (one hand over and the other under) while spotting on the bench press. This is especially important on the heavier sets. Hold the bar right from where the grip begins on both the sides.
This is the most dangerous of them all. If you are not confident enough to spot your bro on the heavy sets, let him know and call a bigger bro. Don’t worry; this won’t make you any less of a helpful hand. Knowing your limitations is a strength.
Stand Right Behind your Bro – You need to stand behind with the same stance (legs as wide) as your bro.
Hand Placement – Place your hands right under the chest of your bro. Don’t touch him until he calls for a spot. You should give him a spot when he is reaching failure or is arching his back way too much. If he is arching his back, you need to come in and keep his back as straight as possible so that all the tension is taken off his lower back and is put on his quads.
Movement – Don’t just stand there while your bro is squatting. Enjoy participation. No, seriously. You need to be moving with him so that you can spot him when necessary. If you just stand there on the top, you won’t be able to curl him back to the top if he fails at the bottom of the movement.
When you feel like your bro is failing or it is a heavy set, start spotting him while he is doing the eccentric movement (going down). It will be easier for him to come back up than to stop himself from going down.
3. Pressing Movements
Spotting on pressing movements like the dumbbell bench press, shoulder press (barbell and dumbbell) can be a little tricky. This is what you need to know about spotting on these movements:
Hand Placement – You should place your hands under your bro’s elbows on movements like dumbbell bench press and shoulder press (barbell and dumbbell), as opposed to spotting from his wrists in the case of dumbbells, or from the bar in the case of a barbell.
Spotting from the elbows will allow your bro to keep constant tension on his active muscle and establish a better mind-muscle connection.
Movement – You need not spot your bro on the eccentric contraction (while coming down). Spot him on the concentric (going up). Doing this will bring in training principles like forced reps and result in greater muscle damage, and hence greater growth.
P.S. – get the f*ck out of the way when your bro drops the dumbbells to the ground.
4. Petty Movements
Yes, we call them the petty movements. Don’t embarrass yourself by asking for a spot on movements like the dumbbell/barbell bicep curls or some tricep extensions.
Even if a bro calls for a spot, make sure you are helping him on the concentric contraction and see to it that he does not lock out on the top or the bottom of the movement, making sure that he keeps constant tension on the muscles.
5. The No–Spot Movements
Just like the fact that not everyone was created equal, this rings true for every exercise.
Some of us hate compound movements like the deadlift and the clean and press, but as much as we want, there’s no way to effectively spot on these exercises.
Even if your bro invents a way to get a spot on these movements, politely decline and do him and yourself a favor.
Last, but most definitely not least: Be a badass in the gym. Motivate the life out of your bro.
And that, kids, is how you spot a bro!