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  • Writer's pictureCoach AP

Requesting a Bench Hand-Off: What to Consider

The bench press is a crucial component of any powerlifting competition. While individual strength is paramount, the technique and execution of the lift play significant roles in determining success. One often overlooked but essential aspect of the bench press in a powerlifting meet is the hand-off. Properly requesting and receiving a hand-off can significantly impact your performance. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to request a handoff for the bench press in a powerlifting meet.

Understanding the Importance of a Hand-Off

In powerlifting competitions, lifters are allowed to request a handoff from a spotter to assist in getting the barbell in position. A good handoff can provide several advantages:

  1. Consistency: A consistent hand-off ensures that every attempt starts from the same position, allowing for better control and technique.

  2. Energy Conservation: By receiving a proper hand-off, you conserve energy that would otherwise be spent unracking the weight, allowing you to focus solely on the lift.

  3. Reduced Injury Risk: A smooth hand-off minimizes the risk of injury during the initial setup.

Steps to Request a Hand-Off

1. Communicate Clearly

Communication is key. Approach the spotters and clearly state that you require a hand-off. Use concise and straightforward language to avoid any confusion. Clarify if you are going to provide verbal cues for the unrack and when you've "got it" or if you'll use physical cues to let the spotter know when you're ready.

2. Specify Preferences

Every lifter has specific preferences for a hand-off. Communicate your preferences regarding the grip width, height of the hand-off, how far out over your chest you'd like the bar, and whether you'd like the spotter to support the weight or just help you guide it out.

3. Practice with Spotters

If possible, practice hand-offs with your training partners or the spotters you know who may be volunteering at the competition. This will help establish a rapport and ensure that they understand your preferences.

4. Be Assertive but Respectful

Confidence is crucial, but being respectful is equally important. Assert your preferences firmly but politely. Remember, the spotters are there to assist you, and maintaining a positive relationship is beneficial.

5. Adjust as Needed

During warm-ups, assess the hand-offs you receive and make adjustments to your verbal instructions if necessary. Don’t hesitate to ask for changes in grip width or the positioning of the bar.

Tips for a Successful Hand-Off

  • Know Your Setup: Ensure you’re in the optimal position on the bench before requesting a hand-off.

  • Practice Consistently: Train with similar hand-off techniques during your practice sessions.

  • Stay Calm and Focused: Nerves can affect your communication. Stay composed and clear in your instructions.

  • Build a Relationship with Spotters: If you frequently compete, building a rapport with the spotters can be advantageous.


A well-executed hand-off can set the stage for a successful bench press attempt. Communication, practice, and mutual respect between the lifter and spotters are essential for an effective hand-off. Remember, each lifter may have unique preferences, so don’t hesitate to communicate your needs clearly. By mastering the art of requesting a hand-off, you set yourself up for a more controlled and successful bench press in your powerlifting meets.

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