A lot of us like to think that we’re self-taught experts when it comes to the gym. Though we may not be professional athletes or certified trainers, most of us have been pumping iron long enough to know what we are doing. Still, you would be surprised at how often someone comes dangerously close to hurting themselves, and others, by trying an exercise without a spotter.
Not every exercise needs a spotter standing over you. When you are doing dumbbell concentration curls, seated rows or calf raises, rarely will you need the assistance of a trainer. And unless you are doing heavy weights for one rep there are many other exercises that won’t call for assistance.
However, there are some exercises that should always have a spotter to ensure you are doing the lift with proper form and don’t stumble under the weight. Here are a few exercises you should never do alone:
Squats: This power lifting exercise can be extremely dangerous if you go it alone. Even if you are doing light weight in a squat rack or cage, a misstep or trip when racking the bar can cause a nasty fall that may lead to serious injury. Many times people doing squats forget to collar the weights and this causes a plate to fall off which leads to an unbalanced bar and then awkward crash of plates and the bar and sometimes the lifter’s body. If you are doing heavy weight, make sure your spotter is standing right behind you with his arms pressed above your rib cage and ready to give you a boost if you stall.
Bench Press: Whether you are using a barbell or dumbbells, it is advised to always have a spotter when doing bench presses. As with squats, it doesn’t matter if the weight is light, in your opinion, you need someone nearby to help prevent an accident if the bar slips, your elbow locks or again the weights are not collared and the bar topples. Many times you will see someone doing bench presses alone and when you turn back their face is bright red, their legs are kicking wildly and the bar is laying flat on their chest. Don’t let this happen to you. Even if you are lifting alone, politely ask someone to watch you for a set to be safe.
Lunges: This exercise requires careful balance and if you are using a barbell or dumbbell it is advised you have someone on either side of you to prevent tipping. Lunges can be a very tiring exercise and by the second or third rep you will start to feel your body swaying. If you don’t have spotters on either side it is very easy to fall into a rack, over a bench or into another lifter. Avoid an embarrassing and potentially painful accident by having two spotters on this exercise.