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  • Writer's pictureCoach AP

How to Spot a Powerlifter's Bench Press

If you've never spotted a powerlifter's bench press, you may not have had a lifter get angry with you for grabbing the barbell too early. "You should have let me grind longer!" they may have said. So how do you decide when to take someone's barbell and when to let them fight it out?

It's simple. You have a conversation ahead of the set. Here are your talking points:

  1. How many reps are you doing?

  2. Do you want a lift-off?

  3. Will you signal me to take the bar? If not, what do you want me to look for before I take it? They may just say "don't let me die" in which case you will let them do all the work and ONLY take the bar if the athlete appears to be in danger of getting pinned under the bar.

Events that may signal you to take the bar could include:

  1. The bar reverses direction on both ends (one end dropping can still be pushed into a complete rep)

  2. The bar comes to a complete halt -- in this instance we recommend letting the athlete try to push for a few seconds before pulling it into the rack -- your judgment will be important here and you should ask the lifter to give some kind of head nod or verbal signal like "Take" to indicate that they are done fighting for the rep

  3. The plates begin sliding off the bar if they were not secured with a collar

  4. The barbell falls on and pins the lifter (take this bar IMMEDIATELY)

To properly support a powerlifter's bench press, you should be able to move the weight they are benching WITH the lifter's help. If you cannot do this as a lone spotter, get a second spotter and spot from the sides rather than from behind the lifter. We recommend using mixed grip when unracking/racking the bar to be certain it will not slip out of your fingers when assisting the lifter.

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