How to bail on a squat (with or without spotter arms)

What's goin' on, Fringe Fam? We've got Blake, one of our amazing sales reps, here with us today to take us through safely bailing out of a squat, with or without safety spotter arms.

First, let's talk about bailing with spotter arms.

Step 1: Set the proper height

It's important to get your spotter arms set to a height specific to you, because if they're too low, the spotter arms won't serve much of their purpose and your barbell will still be dropped pretty heavily on the spotter arms.

Set your spotter arms up at a height where at the very bottom of your squat, the barbell is parallel, nearly resting, or slightly above (for less droppage) on the spotter arms.

Step 2: Dropping the barbell correctly

This next step is super important and inevitable if you're pushing yourself, but never fear: this is what the spotter arms are for.

As you get stuck at the bottom of the hole, stay calm, keep your core tight, look up slightly, and let the barbell roll off of your back onto the spotter arms while moving yourself forward, walking or hopping forward to release yourself from under the bar.

Step 3: Bailing on raised spotter arms

Now, in this scenario, you've raised your spotter arms up one notch from where they were in step 1, and at the bottom of your squat, your barbell does touch the spotter arms slightly.

For the purpose of the video, Blake is facing outward from the rack, but normally you'd set up facing the other direction, toward your rack.

When you squat now, your barbell will touch the spotter arms slightly. You'll be at the very bottom of your squat, the barbell resting on the spotter arms, and you should be able to very easily maneuver yourself out from underneath the barbell by walking forward, leaving the bar on the spotter arms.

This is actually the safest spot to set your spotter arms, so your barbell is not being dropped, but actually set on the arms and you're not pinned underneath without rolling the barbell off of your back.

Now, let's talk about how to bail without spotter arms

The only difference between bailing with and without spotter arms is that without spotter arms, you don't have any physical markers for when to bail. You won't have spotter arms to drop your barbell onto. 

When bailing without spotter arms, it's very important to remember to keep your core tight. The second you round your back and collapse through your core is the second your shoulders are pinned before your knees, and that hardly ever works out well. Stay upright and keep your core tight so there's a clear path for the barbell when it's dropped off of your back.

At the bottom of your squat, just like with spotter arms, keep your chest up, core tight, and eyes up slightly so you can roll the barbell off of your back and walk away. Stay calm, in control, and you'll be able to bail out of your lift and be just fine.

Bumper plates come in very handy when bailing without spotter arms. They'll protect themselves, the barbell you're using, and the floor underneath because they'll bounce slightly instead of staying put like a set of iron plates might.

When in doubt: try to get a spotter

The name of the game here is safety, so if you're unsure about being able to successfully bail without spotter arms and you don't have access to a set of safety spotter arms (like these here), it's always best to try to get someone to spot you during your heavy lifting. Having the extra confidence in a spotter or safety spotter arms is a great way to push through and get the lifts you might not be able to normally.

Some do's and don'ts:

  • Try to keep your chest upright
  • Look up as you bail
  • Let your knees come forward and walk out as you bail
  • Keep your weight in your heels and core tight
  • DON'T look down - keep your eyes up

Safety and longevity is truly the ultimate goal here, so safety spotter arms, or knowing how to bail without spotter arms, is extremely ideal for those of you working out with or without a partner.

We have spotter arms for 2"x3" and 3"x3" uprights. 3"x3" tends to be the most standard across the board for most racks, but if you have questions about which spotter arms will fit your rack, send us a message on our site or an email at and we'd be happy to help!

Let us know if this was helpful and if you learned anything new below. As always, lift heavy, use spotter arms, lift happy :)

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.