STEP 1
Assess the lift.
You don’t need to be able to lift the entire load—you just need to help him rerack the bar if he struggles. Uncomfortable with the weight? Politely decline or you both may risk injury.

STEP 2
Know his plan.
Ask his rep count and if he wants a liftoff from the rack—that is, help with the initial placement. Knowing both will make for a smoother, safer effort.

STEP 3
Stand strong.
Place your feet about shoulder-width apart behind the lifter’s shoulders. Find a sturdy, comfortable stance that lets you reach the bar without having to bend your back.

STEP 4
Liftoff!
If he wants a lift, agree on a countdown and then, at the end of the count, use a comfortable grip to gently guide the bar to his preferred starting position. Don’t throw or jerk the weight; that can put strain on his stabilizing muscles and shoulder joints.

STEP 5
Spot smart. Stay focused and watch his reps.
Allow the lifter to struggle—to a point. If it looks like he won’t complete the lift, or the bar starts moving downward, place your hands back on the bar and gently guide it, lifting with your legs, back onto the rack.

(Source: Adam Johnson, M.S., C.S.C.S., sports performance director at Velocity Sports Performance in Santa Clarita, CA)