''Can I just get a quick spot bro?'' is a frequent question popping up on the gym floor that might leave you feeling a bit uncomfortable. Should you do it? Does it make you a bad person if you decline and carry on with your workout? What if the person that wants you to spot them wants help with weight that they can't even really manage by themselves? Here's a quick post on when you should help and when you can happily decline knowing you aren't going to cause injury to yourself.
The term spotting means to help another person in the gym with their exercise so that they can push one or two more reps out which they wouldn't do themselves. It also means the person doing the exercise is more likely to see better results from the workout because he or she is working at a greater rate. However be sure to notice you aren't doing all the work because that isn't what you should be used for. A spotter only really helps out 10-20% effort with the exercise which should be just enough to complete each rep.
What To Look Out
Make sure you ask the person who has asked you to spot them, the number of reps they want to complete before they start their set. This gives you a good indication of what they will want and they will probably tell you when they will need you, for example at which point in the set they start to feel tired and will need you to be ready.
Take a look at the exercise they are doing and see if you can actually help them without causing injury to yourself. For instance lifting a 40kg weight onto your chest so that they can take it from you and perform a shoulder press might cause you strain. That is just one example and there are many more out there, so just make sure you pay attention to what the other person is asking you to do, it is ok to say no.
Disrupt Your Workout
Sometimes I will get asked to spot someone and depending on the workout I am performing will determine whether I can or not. It's ok to say no to someone because you need to get on with your workout, so don't feel ashamed or guilty if you don't want to do it.
When You Spot
When you do spot someone a great tip is to make sure the person working out is doing MOST of the work, you are just there in case they need a little extra push. The worse thing you can do when spotting someone in the gym is doing all the work for them because that person is no longer working to their full potential. So give only 5% or 10% of your help and really make the person who you are spotting WORK for those reps. I'm sure many of you will connect with this as it is common to have someone spot you but do all the work, which is counter productive, you'd be better off struggling and not getting as many reps than have someone do it for you.
If you spot make sure you get it right :)