How to Spot the Barbell Squat

Help out your fellow lifters in the gym by learning how to spot the barbell squat with these Pro Tips.

October 29, 2019

Barbell squats might seem like a simple exercise. However, when you add weight to them, the exercise will increase in intensity. You can help reassure lifters by learning how to spot the barbell squat.

Educated spotters are important for safety around the gym. If all of the trainers are busy with other athletes, spotters can step in and help keep exercises safe.

“Spotting for the barbell squat can allow athletes to feel safer and more confident prior to each set or repetition,” corrective exercise and performance enhancement specialist Drew Walsh says. “After athletes have become more proficient with the squat mechanics and variations, we can then advance to the barbell squat.”

According to Walsh, the squat is the foundational exercise to develop maximum strength and power. Learn how to do the squat without a barbell with these Pro Tips.

Before you help spot the barbell squat, be sure to communicate with the lifter on how many reps they plan on doing.


Begin by checking out the equipment, making sure the weight plates are secured to the barbell. Double check that the height of the bar is correct. The barbell should be at chest height.

As the lifter faces forward, the spotter will stand behind them, facing their back. Once you are in this position:

  • Position your hand close to the lifter’s back as they unrack the barbell. As they back up, be sure to back up the same number of steps. You don’t want to go too far back.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, just like the position of the lifter’s feet.
  • Put your arms underneath the lifter’s arms. Your arms should bend, almost making a “V” shape. Do not squeeze your arms to the lifter’s side. Instead, allow for a little room.
  • Move with the lifter as they perform the barbell squat. You’ll also be in a squat position, so prepare to bend your knees and push your hips down and out. Do this while mirroring the athlete’s squat tempo. “If the lifter slows down, the spotter must be prepared to step in and assist,” Walsh says. “If control is lost or technique is compromised, the spotter will step in and provide assistance to complete the repetition.”
  • Help the lifter safely rack the weight.

Walsh reminds spotters to lift the athlete and not the bar. “Spotter and athlete communication is key,” he says.

Now that you’re trained to help spot the barbell squat, familiarize yourself with spotting the bench press with these Pro Tips.