On Spotting Bench Press On Spotting Bench Press

starting strength gym
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 20

Thread: On Spotting Bench Press

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    Posts
    10,834

    Default On Spotting Bench Press

    • wichita falls texas december seminar 2020
    • wichita falls texas february 2021 seminar
    • starting strength seminar april 2021
    I talked myself into letting two scared people spot me on bench yesterday at the YMCA. I should have known better but I knew I probably wouldn't need help at all. Well it only lasted for one attempt. I am not sure they ever let me take all of the weight and when I got to the bottom one end of the bar started going up as one spotter decided I was in trouble. Uhg, stupid of me. We racked the bar and I'm sure I terrified them even more with the WTF look on my face.

    Anyway, one of these people was a gym trainer and also should have known better (but unfortunately doesn't) and I thought I would talk to the staff over there and offer to help. I wrote up the following (which I'll have to post in pieces) as a place to start. It repeats much of Rips advice. Tell me what you think and if I'm giving Rip enough credit or credit for things he wouldn't want credit for.

    Thanks!

    (see following posts)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    Posts
    10,834

    Default

    On Spotting Bench Press

    ** The bench press is the most dangerous barbell lift. *The safest way to do them is in the power rack with the safeties set high enough to keep the bar off of the lifters neck. *They can be done this way without a spotter. *Frequently though the power rack will be in use and the lifter will have to use the bench press station. *If strong lifters are in the area the person doing the benching should ask one of them for a spot. *Frequently there won't be anyone in the gym strong enough to lift the bar off the lifter. *
    Can a smaller person safely spot a heavy bench press? Here are some tips to make it as safe as possible:

    ** Determine what kind of "spot" is being requested. *Some lifters think of benching as a team sport and will deliberately use weights that they are not strong enough to lift. * When you hear a spotter say "it's all you bro" it usually isn't. *Do not spot these efforts. *If they have no idea how much they can lift on their own ask them to work up to a weight with some lighter efforts until the bar slows down or assistance is needed. *The last weight the lifter successfully completes on their own is a safe weight for the lifter / spotter system. *Also, if the lifter is not strong enough to unrack the bar on their own,they should probably use a lighter weight. "Hand offs" should not be necessary and are a point of failure that can be avoided.
    ** When a lifter is programming intelligently like this the spotter should only be needed to help with the last rep of the set and should only have to take a few pounds off of the bar. *The lifter and spotter should stay with the attempt until the bar is racked.
    ** Discourage unsafe practices like a thumbless (suicide) grip. *If the bar slips out of the lifters hands even a strong and alert spotter will probably not be able to catch the bar in time to keep it from hitting the lifter. *The worst of all possible worlds is a lifter using the suicide grip for the decline bench press where the bar is held directly over the neck. *Yes, this goes on in our gym! *Dips are a much safer and better exercise than decline bench press. *Also, encourage the lifter to lock their arms out before moving the bar over the neck area.
    ** If the above practices are observed there will only rarely be a problem. *There is a remote chance that the bar will slip out of the lifters grip or even of the lifter passing out. *In these cases the bar is going to land on the lifter (and I hope they weren't on the decline bench!) *So what happens now? *If collars are being used the spotter has to call for help and wait... or remove the collars and let the plates slide off the end of the bar by tipping one end of the bar up and getting out of the way when the load shifts after plates slide off the *other end. *This is why collars should not be used. *It is not the safest practice. *A lifter can usually get the bar off of themselves if they can tip the bar slightly and allow the plates to slide but every year someone lifting alone in their basement or garage dies from being pinned (there are usually many things wrong in those scenarios)
    Last edited by ColoWayno; 06-28-2012 at 09:17 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    Posts
    10,834

    Default

    Spotting:
    One spotter is preferred. *It is difficult for two people (even experienced people) to take the load in a balanced fashion.
    Ask the lifter how many reps they will be attempting. *Also feel free to ask how confident they are that they will get all of the attempts. *If they don't know, ask them to try to work up to the weight (if they haven't already).
    The spotter should be centered on the bar and close enough to quickly grab the bar. *Normally, the spotter should not need to touch the bar at all. *If the bar is moving up when it should be then the lifter should be given the opportunity to complete the rep. *There's nothing more annoying than attempting a PR and having the rep not count because of spotter interference (which is any contact!) when the bar was moving in the right direction.*
    If assistance is needed use the grip you are most comfortable with. *Consider trying a mixed grip with one hand supinated and the other hand pronated. *This is a very secure grip and won't let the bar roll down toward your fingers. *Preferably you should try to pull the bar straight up until the lifter locks his arms out, then move the bar into the uprights (vertical posts). *Let it slide down the posts into the hooks. *This way the lifter should be safe when moving the bar over the neck area. *If the bar starts going down before the lifter is able to lock their arms with your assistance then decide if you can make it to a lower set of hooks. *If so, pull up and back until the bar hits the uprights above the hooks. *If not, don't let the bar land on the lifters neck or head! If the lifter is not able to lock their arms with a small amount of assistance *it means the rep was probably not well planned in the first place. *In the worst case the bar is landing on the lifter. *If collars are being used you will likely have to call for help and/or remove the collars. *Hopefully you weren't using them!
    Also, you should practice the above scenarios with an experienced lifter and light weights (do not practice having the bar fall of course).

    Wayne

    (Thanks to Mark Rippetoe who has taught me much about barbell lifting)
    (Thanks to my wife for spotting me on heavy attempts)
    Last edited by ColoWayno; 06-28-2012 at 09:12 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    605

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ColoWayno View Post
    *Also, if the lifter is not strong enough to unrack the bar on their own,they should probably use a lighter weight. "Hand offs" should not be necessary and are a point of failure that can be avoided.
    Isn't this false? I don't have the SS3 book with me at the moment, but I believe un-racking help is discussed as a positive to help overcome the moment arm between the locked out position, and the racked position. I believe it even mentions that it is almost a talent, as a spotter, to know exactly when to let go of the bar when helping someone un-rack.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    West Bend, WI
    Posts
    10,969

    Default

    Overall a pretty good summary, I just had a couple of things I wanted to comment on.

    "** Determine what kind of "spot" is being requested. *Some lifters think of benching as a team sport and will deliberately use weights that they are not strong enough to lift. * When you hear a spotter say "it's all you bro" it usually isn't. *Do not spot these efforts."

    Yes and no. I think there is a time where overload type reps can be useful. I also think that keeping the bar moving on a top set (using the lightest pull you can) can be good for the last couple of reps. If you get to a complete stop and are pushing really hard, things can go pop! As long as you are honest about getting assisted lifts and log it that way, I don't see the big deal. I wouldn't do it all the time, but there is a place for that kind of training.

    "*Also, if the lifter is not strong enough to unrack the bar on their own,they should probably use a lighter weight. "Hand offs" should not be necessary and are a point of failure that can be avoided."

    I sort of disagree with this too. For some people, they can set their back better if they get a lift off. By doing it themselves, it tends to flatten them out a little. You can also setup farther away from the uprights with a lift off, which can help if you have a tendency to hit the uprights. I use a lift off all the time on my heavy sets. The other bonus is that you waste less energy getting the bar out, so you have more for the actual press itself.

    "One spotter is preferred. *It is difficult for two people (even experienced people) to take the load in a balanced fashion."

    Again, as the weight gets heavier, you have to ask yourself if one person can really get the bar off of you in the event of a critical failure. It is one thing to help pull even 100-200lbs if the rep is totally bombed, but it would be another to pull 400+ if the guy wrecked his shoulder or passed out. For really heavy sets, a 3 man spot team is a good idea. The back spotter still does his normal job (staying close to the bar "ghosting it", helping a little if needed, lift-off etc), but the side guys are there to catch it if the rep is a total failure. I have actually seen 3 man hand offs too, but that does take more coordination. Just having the guys there as a safety isn't a bad idea. When guys start benching real heavy in shirts, I've even seen 5 man spot teams. So if there are free people in the gym and you don't think a single spotter can save you, have the other guys just be there on the sides, but not touch the bar unless everything goes bad! :-)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    Posts
    10,834

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by quikky View Post
    Isn't this false? I don't have the SS3 book with me at the moment, but I believe un-racking help is discussed as a positive to help overcome the moment arm between the locked out position, and the racked position. I believe it even mentions that it is almost a talent, as a spotter, to know exactly when to let go of the bar when helping someone un-rack.
    It might have been Tate or Wendler that I heard talk about this, not sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Callador View Post
    Overall a pretty good summary, I just had a couple of things I wanted to comment on.
    I'm trying to hit the non-ideal situation we see frequently at the gym where there might not be a person around who is skilled enough at these things. Maybe I should just say assisted reps, multiple spotters and hand offs can be used legitimately but an advanced lifter needing to use these techniques should make plans to have people versed in these techniques around.
    Last edited by ColoWayno; 06-28-2012 at 10:13 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Canadia
    Posts
    10,486

    Default

    IMO a handoff from a person who doesn't know what to do is probably a lot less safe than unracking a heavy weight yourself.

    For the purposes of this guide I think it's safe to say no handoffs since the type of people who need this advice probably won't know how to do it properly.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    3,482

    Default

    This guy I was spotting yesterday didn't know how to receieve the handoff. Was taking it out to him and he didn't even lock it out just BAM straight down. Shit sucked, didn't even know if he had it fully.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Birmingham
    Posts
    8,470

    Default

    I actually got taught something useful from moron gym instructor. (he has been in the industry for at least 20 years and competed in powerlifting in his youth, but is still an idiot most of the time)

    When assisting reps, always support the bar directly in the centre. And even when giving hand offs stay close to the centre too. Why you ask?

    Because the worst thing for the lifter is to receive the bar or be pushing out assisted reps when the bar is uneven. Holding the centre guarantees one side will not be pulled off balance to the other.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    372

    Default

    starting strength coach development program
    Also make sure to get your balls as close to their forehead as possible without touching. That gives you the best stance to act if something goes wrong.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •