Ironmaster Spotting Stand Review and photos by Kevin B.
This is a review of the Ironmaster Spotting Stand. I purchased it in late January of 2011 and have used at least once a week throughout the year. I'm currently using it once or twice a week depending upon whether I do seated overhead presses or kettlebell presses for that particular week. So, I use it once a week for bench press, and sometimes another time during the week for seated overhead presses.
Early on in the year, I did some incline and decline work with it too, but I've settled on bench press and overhead press for my weekly routine. I will also use it as shown in the Shoulder Horn thread to assist with (p)rehab work for my shoulders.
I will state at the outset that I am very happy with this piece of equipment. It has allowed me to bench press dumbbells significantly heavier than I ever attempted prior to having this equipment.
I have had shoulder issues in the past; these stands have allowed me to get the Ironmaster quick lock dumbbells in position for flat, incline, decline, and seated overhead press without fear of re-injuring my shoulder. Also, equally important, I'm able to place the dumbbells back in their saddles without unduly straining my shoulders either.
The term spotting stand is a bit of a misnomer. If I were to drop or lose control of a dumbbell when it's overhead, it is extremely unlikely that the spotting stand would offer any protection.
What it does is place the dumbbells at a convenient height for starting and ending a lift. The height of the saddles can be adjusted in two inch increments. The saddles may also be rotated somewhat to accommodate individual preference.
Below is a sequence of shots showing me lifting a pair of 95lb dumbbells off of the stand in preparation for a bench press.
The trick is to tilt or tip the dumbbell back so that it sort of rolls off of the saddle into the hand. Note that I have positioned myself on the Super Bench so that there isn't much clearance between the dumbbell and its saddle when I'm at the bottom of the press. This is intentional so that I do not place undue strain on my shoulders.
I rarely have a problem with interference between the dumbbell and saddle when performing a lift. On those few instances where I did bang the saddle with the dumbbell, nothing untoward has happened.
Here is a photo showing the positioning of my body on the bench with the dumbbells at the top of the press:
And, finally, here is a similar sequence of shots showing the dumbbells being placed back into the saddles. This is quite a lot harder than the "lift off" (or "roll-off") because you're tired at this point.
Also, I have a tendency to overshoot with the dumbbells; I will sometimes push them too far onto the saddle, so far that I cannot tilt them back upright. I've gotten enough practice - and the 95s have gotten easy enough - that I don't usually have problems with the 95s anymore. But when I go heavier, I'll sometimes have someone help me get them back upright in the saddles if I have a problem.
The various dings in the rubber on the saddles - I'll show close-ups below - are mostly from overshooting and then attempting to slide the bottom towards me whilst trying to tip the dumbbells to vertical.
Here are several photos showing the spotting stand configured for bench press. I've placed 95lb dumbbells in the saddles, the same as shown in the first photo.
Here is a photo of a 30lb dumbbell in one of the saddles. If you look closely, you can see some scuffs at the bottom rear of the saddle.
For the following sequence of photos, I raised the saddles to their maximum height. This is how I use them for doing a seated overhead press with no back support. While it is easy to set up the bench with the spotting stand so that the back is supported, I prefer to do them just sitting on the bench with no support. I've placed 30lb dumbbells in the saddles. (The cat's name is Callisto.)
Below is a close-up of one of the saddle supports. Note the long slots which allow the saddles to be rotated. I've marked one of the slots near the top of the photo for my preferred bench press height.
I found that I scratch these supports a lot less with those marks in place. If you look closely, I've made another mark for the current slot. Even though there are no slots below it, having it marked helps to prevent me from pulling the support all the way out of the bottom of the stand.
The spotting stands are definitely large enough for kettlebells. Here's a photo of a 40kg (AOS/Punch) bell in the stand:
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