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Need a Spot? This Feature’s Got Your Back

How Spotter mode helps you challenge your strength safely from home.

Spotter Mode on Tonal helps you work out more safely.

To see results from strength training, you need to constantly challenge your muscles and lift heavier weight—but that’s often easier said than done. If you’ve ever failed on a bench press or a squat, you know it’s a humbling and even scary experience, especially if you’re exercising from home.

That’s where Tonal’s Spotter mode comes in. Spotter allows you to safely lift heavy weight on your own, increasing the effectiveness of your workout. You can feel confident and supported every time you lift, without ever failing on a rep. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is Spotter Mode? 

Spotter is a sophisticated technology that automatically senses when you’re struggling to complete a rep and temporarily reduces the weight so you can finish the set. It’s like having a friend spot you during a lift and stepping in when you waver. After the weight is reduced, this feature can also detect when you’re no longer struggling and will restore the original resistance to ensure you’re being adequately challenged. 

Spotter Mode definition

For example, if you’re performing a biceps curl, and you can’t quite complete the rep, Spotter activates and reduces the weight so you can complete the rep. If you continue the set at your original speed, Spotter determines that you can handle the challenge and adds the weight back for the remaining reps. 

Spotter is always on by default, so you can automatically access this dynamic weight mode for more than 200 exercises on Tonal. Spotter doesn’t negatively affect your Strength Score. Like a good friend, it is only there to help you when you need it.

Why Do You Need a Spotter? 

Having a spotter, or leveraging Spotter mode, creates a safe environment that allows you to lift near failure. Research suggests your sets should be performed with only one to two reps in reserve, meaning they are at a high enough load where you could bang out only a couple more reps after you finished the set. And occasionally including some sets to failure can help you achieve muscle hypertrophy

Quote from John Christie: “So often you are limited in how you can apply overload to your lifts at home. With Spotter, it’s like having somebody there to ensure safety and create conditions that keep you out of harm’s way.”  

“The body adapts to survive. The only reason that our bodies will grow muscle is because you are posing a threat to its integrity,” explains Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, Professor of Exercise Science at Lehman College, hypertrophy expert and Tonal Advisory Board Member. “So if you’re not challenging the body at some point in your program, it has no reason to respond.” 

While you want to challenge your body, you also don’t want to risk injury.

“So often you are limited in how you can apply overload to your lifts at home,” says John Christie, Director of Curriculum at Tonal. “With Spotter, it’s like having somebody there to ensure safety and create conditions that keep you out of harm’s way.”  

There is also an added confidence that comes with knowing you have a spotter to support you. In one study, researchers found when lifters performed a bench press with a spotter, they not only increased the number of reps they could compete, but they also believed they could lift the weight, and thought the weight felt easier. 

What Makes Spotter Mode Different Than a Spotter in the Gym?

Your movement is detected every second the cable is engaged on Tonal, so it can intelligently sense when Spotter mode needs to kick in. The same can’t be said of human spotters. It only takes one distraction for a spotter to look away, which can increase your risk of failure and injury. And every lift has a specific technique for spotting–if your spotter is not professionally trained, or simply not paying attention, injuries can happen.

The bottomline: Tonal’s Spotter mode means you can build strength safely and effectively from home, so you never have to scale back your goals or worry about injury.

Other Dynamic Weight Modes