Why choose pause squats?
Pause squats are a brilliant squat variation for developing overall tightness, as well as correcting technical flaws in your lift. The nature of the pause squat forces a lifter to slow down as they try to keep tightness, and in return gives them more time for feedback on their position.
One way of thinking about it is it’s like driving around a race track slow in order to learn the track before you go fast!
I like to include pause work in my programs all year round, using different variations such as front pauses, high bar, double pauses, and chains and bands.
Closer to competitions, pause work will become more competition specific. This will be around 4 to 6 weeks out from competition depending on the lifter and experience level.
SINGLE PAUSE SQUAT (STANDARD)
The standard or single pause squat is usually performed with the lifter just pausing below parallel. The position of the pause can change if the lifter has a certain spot they need to work on and stick. Generally though, I keep some pause work in the bottom of the squat all year round.
Most lifters lose their tightness at the bottom and reversing out the hole. pausing and holding in the bottom will give the lifter confidence in that particular position and teach them to stay tight, giving them a solid platform to drive out of the hole.
I like to program my athletes pause work around the 65%-85% mark depending on where they’re in their training cycle.
DOUBLE PAUSE SQUAT
As you can see with the first rep, Louise kicks back fast and loses some tightness. The double pause squat forces the lifter to break with more control and stay tighter.
One of the causes of losing tightness in the hole squat is getting out of position on the way down.
Pausing on the way down teaches you to find the best pathway when descending, and also keeps you under tension for that little bit longer.
I prefer my athletes to pause on the way down rather than up, as I believe in stopping or slowing up on the upwards part of the squat is counter productive and generally goes against everything else I teach my lifters when coming out of the squat.
This being said if a lifter constantly comes forwards or backwards out of the hole and not on the way down, adding a pause mid way on the way up might be a good idea. Usually just before they lose positioning is best.
I’ve added the pin squat to this post as people make the common mistake of thinking it’s the same as a pause squat. It is very similar in how it works, and can strengthen your squat weaknesses, but is still slightly different at the same time.
The pin squat, unlike the pause squat, has very little tension built up or elastic energy stored when you drive off the pins. When performing the pause squat you need to stay tight but you also de-load and break tension when you drop the bar onto the pins.
The explosive movement that follows requires more power and force than a pause squat, due to the fact that it hasn’t and built up any stored energy or tension.
We incorporate many different squat variations around competition squats and pick different variations for different lifters depending on their sticking points and weaknesses.