I actually found out about pause squats because I have been doing pause benching lately and have been in love with the results. It really got me out of my comfort zone and made me face the hardest part of the lift which is the hole. Coincidentally, most people are very weak in the hole when it comes to the squat as well. Today I will give you 5 reasons to try out pause squats if you are very weak in the hole, looking for more hypertrophy or just want to try something new.
1) You’re getting stronger in the hole (where most people are weak).
Most people are extremely weak in the hole (such as myself) and when the weight gets heavy we tend to do touch and go reps which does let you lift heavier weights, but it’s not a good method for the long run. If you are only doing touch and go squats, then you will be very weak at the bottom of the squat which is going to hinder your progress. If you can squat 315×10 touch and go then you might only get 315×5 with a 1sec pause. The good news is that your pause squat will go from 315×5 to 315×10 faster than you think if you do pause squats because you will be working on your weakness that you probably haven’t been working on.
2) Reduced ego pressure and you’re lifting a weight that you can actually handle properly.
I have a torn ACL and I might get surgery in the future if things don’t get better. Lately I have had to take a lot of weight off of my back squat which sucks. The physio said that I can’t do ATG squats anymore (I probably couldn’t even if I wanted to at this point), but he said I could squat to parallel or just a bit below which isn’t the end of the world (at least I can still squat). Below parallel squats and box squats are what I am doing on 2 separate days. Since I can’t load up my knee with a shitload of weight I have to find ways to get more out of less weight so I can still get stronger, bigger and get a good training effect; pause squats are the answer for me.
This will also save your lower back because you are doing a weight you can handle which will mean that there will be less spinal compression. Weightlifting is extremely safe but the big problem is the ego. You don’t hear a lot of people talking about pause squats because you can’t use as much weight and they are hard. The hole is like the dark side and most people try to avoid it as much as possible.
3) Less knee pain.
This is obvious because when you squat touch-and-go you are ego-lifting a bit. I don’t want to disappoint any squatters out there because there are a lot of strong squatters out there who do touch and go, but is that considered a legit lift? If it were considered a legit lift, then Powerlifters would be doing it all the time at their meets which isn’t the case just like the touch and go bench.
The pause squat is a lot more honest and I think it’s a better approach for me for the long term. When I say pause squat I am not talking about a 5 second hold at the bottom or anything crazy like that, but just one second down to eliminate the stretch reflex so that all of the right muscles are working. If you are in this game for the long haul, then your number one goal should be to stay healthy and I think that the pause squat is one of the best ways to do so.
Another reason why you will get less knee pain is because when you do touch and go reps most people’s knees tend to cave in whereas with a pause squat you are in full control of spreading your knees out, your glutes will be more engaged, there will be less weight and your knees will feel a lot better. It’s also a chance for you to improve your form and technique.
4) Increased time under tension which could be good for hypertrophy.
One of the most important factors for muscle growth is time under tension and pause squats definitely help you do that because the set is longer and there is also a lot of lower body fiber recruitment. If you have been doing regular squats for a while, then try the pause squat and you will be amazed on how much mass you might put on.
5) Raw world record holders used them, they work!
If you don’t believe anything that I am saying then just look at some of the strongest Powerlifters of all time such as Ed Coan, they were very big advocates of pause squats for power and size development. They understood the importance of having a tool such as the pause squat in their programs and that’s why they would incorporate it.
6) Improves mental toughness under the bar
Last but not least, pause squats work on your mental toughness. Most people are already scared of squats to begin with so that means even more people will be scared of pause squats because the hole is like the darkness and most people are scared of the dark. If you do pause squats for a few months, then you will notice that you will be a lot more comfortable in the hole and it will improve your other lifts such as your deadlift as well.
It’s good to be honest with yourself and see how much you are really able to lift without doing touch and go reps, let me know what you are really made of and what you think about the pause squat.